Miracle Monday #12 Tera’s miracle story

Chasing freedom

We all have dreams and aspirations, some will lead us closer to our destiny and others must be crushed in order for us to live our best and most fulfilled lives. Once this happens and the pain passes, should we choose to rise above the bitterness of disappointment, and lean into the plans God has for us, we will be surprised with a life we could have never imagined for ourselves.

I grew up in a house that believed in a God that had a plan for my life, however the fact that my plans weren’t necessarily the same as His never really registered. From around the ages of 7/8 my future seemed to be set before me, with a promising career as a swimmer and a deal that seemed pretty great. Second to my passion of swimming was my love for horses, I always wanted so badly to own my own horse, so I made a deal with my mom that if I qualified for the Olympics she would have to buy me one, to my surprise she agreed and so from then on I began chasing Freedom (this was the name I’d give my horse once I got it). However I’d find out later that the freedom I was chasing was so much deeper than what I originally thought.
I swam my way through middle school, and was known in my area as one of the top swimmers and definite contender for the Olympics once I was old enough. I was on a sure track, my life was pretty much decided, swimming was not only a sport for me but ended up becoming an idol, everything I did was about furthering my swimming career, and it became a huge part of my identity. But then I hit a bump in the road.
When I was 12 while competing, I gave a an extra push in order to win the race and ended up tearing the cartilage from my bone in my shoulder, though I felt a lot of pain, at first I figured it wasn’t anything too serious, the next day however my shoulder hurt so bad I couldn’t lift my arm over my head. still, I just kept going, for five years I swam through the pain, until I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt crazy because I knew the pain I felt was real, but the doctors I had visited up to this point hadn’t found the reason for such intense pain. When I was 17 I finally had my first surgery and was hopeful that it would fix whatever was going on, in the same season I had a moment of reconnection with God, though this was so special and really changed my perspective it didn’t fix everything. The surgery did not make my pain go away, thankfully amidst other people’s disbelief in the pain I was experiencing, my family stood by me and helped me seek medical help.
In 2011 I had my second surgery, at 18 I was hopeful that this time things would get better, but once again it did not fix that pain I was in, the pain I felt was not only physical at this point, I was hurt and angry at the situation, I was so confused because I believed that God wanted me to swim to bring Him glory. How was I supposed to do that in this state?
I felt like God had given me a promise (Jer 33:6-9) that He would heal me, so I stepped out and kept swimming because I felt God told me to, but in the process I had lost my quality of life. I was in despair, being 19 years old and unable to turn off a life switch without keeling over made me feel like my life was over, I felt like I had no purpose. I prayed and asked God to just let me die, let me be done with all of this.
At this point I was feeling cheated, like God was playing a cruel joke on me, how in the world was I supposed to keep swimming through all of this pain, and still something deep inside of me said I needed to keep at it.
In 2013 I was 20 years old, unable to peruse a career in what I loved, and facing one more surgery, needless to say I wasn’t the bright eyed hopeful I had once been, but still there was a part of me that dared to hope that this time something would be different. Indeed my family’s prayers were answered when after my third surgery doctors found my bicep degenerating,
which caused the excruciating pain I felt daily from my shoulder down to my hand, at that moment I began to believe life wasn't over. God had given me another chance and in the end, if I hadn't kept swimming, they may not have ever found the source of my pain. So when I felt like God was telling me to keep swimming, He did actually save my life (possibly literally, for sure metaphorically) by using swimming to lead surgeons to the cause. If I had not kept swimming, they probably would not have gone in for a third surgery.
Today I see that even in our darkest moments, God is still at work, small things like lifting my arm up over my head were not a possibility for a long time, today I like to touch the branches of trees when I pass under them, I can fully enjoy raising my hands in worship to the Lord.
Years later I can say that I did find freedom... no I don’t own a horse and I never did qualify for the Olympics, instead I found myself lying in a hammock in the middle of the Amazon rainforest writing my book “swimming for freedom”, I found so much more, I found freedom in Christ, and that is something that will never grow old or rust.
If you remember nothing else from my story, I pray that you’d remember this... God’s definition of success is not the worlds definition of success, God is not always who you think He is.

My name is Tera Bradham and this is one of my miracle stories.

This rendition of Tera’s story was written by Camilla M. Latham, if you would like to read the full story from Tera Bradham herself you can buy her book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or find the books and all the ways to connect with her at her website linked below .


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