On April 21, 2008 at the age of 26, Katherine Wolf experienced a brain bleed from a massive brain stem stroke that nearly killed her. She survived but was left unable to walk, talk, or swallow and with severe double vision, right ear deafness, and right-side facial paralysis. The former beauty queen, model, and mother to a then-six-month-old baby boy had to redefine her life.
“I am grateful that the Lord has allowed me to experience suffering at an early age,” says Wolf. “The Cross and the suffering of Christ doesn’t appear beautiful at face value, but in the kingdom of God, we know it is the ultimate source of beauty because it means that the end of the story is no longer sadness, pain, and death, but new life—and that’s a beautiful thing.”
In 2013, Wolf and her husband, Jay, started Hope Heals, a ministry that serves those who face physical disabilities and other challenges with the end goal, says Wolf, “of imparting hope that Jesus brings healing to the deepest pains we all carry.”
Wolf shared with CT about how her stroke and the ensuing suffering have transformed her outlook on life, faith, and the nature of enduring beauty.
How has God used the tragedy of your stroke to redefine your understanding of beauty?
When I had the stroke, so much was stripped away in terms of my physical abilities—I couldn’t use my hands, couldn’t eat, or walk—that my appearance was just one more thing I was dealing with. The beauty stuff wasn’t as big of a deal; learning to walk again was a big deal. It put my appearance and beauty in its rightful place.
My baby was being raised by other people. While I was watching him grow up, I couldn’t tell you when he ...1
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