​Susceptible to Miracles

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on April 02, 2021 # Lifestyle

By Chris Norton

Chris NortonMy name is Chris Norton, and I am a husband, father, entrepreneur, author, son, friend, advocate and a person of faith. Because I use a wheelchair and was paralyzed at age 18, people often get hung up on that last descriptor: a person of faith.

Yes, I still believe in God, even though something that changed the course of my life happened to me. In fact, my faith was what got me through and continues to get me through. Despite not experiencing the miracle I hoped for - to walk independently – my faith has set me up to be susceptible to miracles I didn't foresee.

In 2010, I was a freshman at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. I was a defensive back for our football team, the Norse. I vividly remember the game that changed everything. It was a routine play that I mistimed, and in an instant, a tackle left me face down on the field. After being care flighted to the hospital, doctors told me and my family that I had only a 3 percent chance of regaining feeling below the neck. It was crushing. There I was an athlete in the prime of my life, only to be told I'd never walk again.

How could God do that to me?

I pondered this thought with a racing mind up as I was put into an MRI Scan. I expected the next hour to be excruciating. However, there in the stillness and darkness, something changed and grounded me. I prayed to God for an escape from the heartache of what was happening before me, the loud noises of the MRI machine and the pain the neck brace was bringing to my head. The next thing I realized, I was being lowered out of the machine. I somehow fell asleep. I knew then that God was with me. And things would be different, but they were not over.Chris in the hospital

If faith is believing in something that is not right in front of you, my injury and subsequent recovery was just that. Statistics said I'd never move or walk again, but the faith I had in God and the faith I had in myself told me to believe I could. Miracles can happen. They typically take much longer than we would like. Sometimes the miracles you hope for don't ever happen. I had to trust that God had a greater plan for me than the one I had for myself. That was NOT an easy decision.

Feeling first came back in my toe, and then eventually, I was able to move more and more of my body. I worked with the greatest PTs on the planet for hours every day. And then I'd come back to my hospital room and work more with my dad. At night, he would read me Scripture, and the messages and prayers from people all around the world who followed my story. It humbled me and inspired me to work harder. Eventually, I stood. And then I was able to take assisted steps!

My full story is told in a new documentary now on Netflix called 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story. Above all else, I pray it brings people hope. The "7" in "7 Yards" refers to the distance I walked, side-by-side with my wife during our 2018 wedding. We did that walk for us but also to inspire other people.Chris standing with Emily during their wedding

In the film, I got to relive many big moments that happened over the years – the tackle, recovery, meeting my wife and more. But some of the most sacred scenes to recreate were the ones where I was lying in the hospital bed clinging to my faith. Since my injury, I have witnessed miracles through my community, loyal friends, family, my loving spouse and the opportunities to make a positive difference through my nonprofit and motivational speaking business. All made possible by choosing faith over fear.

While I still hope to walk independently one day, I no longer train to walk. I've discovered my worth is not measured by steps or physical strength. My worth comes from the positive difference I can make and the love I receive and give. The hope we have makes us vulnerable to failure. But also susceptible to miracles.

You can follow me on Instagram @chrisanorton16, my wife Emily's Instagram @emilysummersnorton and on Facebook. To find out more about 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story, check out the documentary's Instagram @7yardsfilm and Facebook.

Photo Credit: #7YardsFilm "7 YARDS by Fotolanthropy"

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.