By all accounts, Craig DeMartino should not be alive. He fell to the ground while rock-climbing and the impact alone should have killed him, but it didn't. DeMartino recounts his healing in the new book "After the Fall." He spoke with The Christian Post about his faith both before and after the accident, and how physical challenges can strengthen one's spiritual life.
The Christian Post: What was your faith like before the fall?
DeMartino: It was sort of what I would describe as "cruise control." My wife and I were active on Sundays and prioritized it when we could in our life. Our marriage was good, our kids were good; we just took things for granted. It was always just kind of there … I would drift back to it from time to time, but it wasn't anything incredibly strong. As life intervened, I found myself becoming more distracted.
CP: How did it change after the fall?
DeMartino: What happened for me is that I read a daily devotional that I didn't really like that much, but one day I had an epiphany. I could only reach that devotional because I was in a cast and simply couldn't move. I got it and opened up to the day that I fell … the title was "How far does God have to go to get your attention?" I thought it was a pivotal moment and that I should pay attention. I just stopped and said, "I don't understand any of this, but I will listen the best I can and make you the center of my life."
Honestly, most days, I am still figuring it all out … people have this misconception that people who go through heavy trauma are perfectly fine afterwards. Because of the accident and what I've seen God do in my life, my everyday perspectives have completely changed. My faith grew-I didn't truly understand the word "faith" before the accident. What's interesting to me is that eventually you see yourself start to quote the Scripture and follow God with where he is leading you … that's not what I was like before the fall.
I also hated speaking- I wasn't excited about it- but God put me in that arena and now I really enjoy it. It's cathartic for me: helps me heal and is something that is truly great. I'm able to share my experience and talk about the fall as well as my newfound faith.
CP: What would you say to survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing?
DeMartino: You see the injuries and you see how bad they are. The survivors are coming through both physical and psychological trauma. What I would tell them, what I tell people now, is that it's a one-day-at-a time thing, but don't focus on the one day that changed your life. The thing I learned was that I might have a series of bad days but then I would rebound, but the series of bad days became less and less. I was learning and re-learning how my body was reacting.
This isn't a one-day process but a long-term thing. It's going to open doors for you and lead you places you didn't expect; once you get that in your head, it's a powerful tool. And whether people have God in their lives or not, that perspective is still powerful. I speak with survivors who don't have faith but remind them that they are moving on to a new season in their lives … to a new, better season.
CP: How do you share your experience and faith?
DeMartino: I think it's so funny and weird that when I go into a situation, a lot of times I meet someone who has [or] had the same injuries I did. When I go in, I say, "Look, God did so much for me in my life." And I'll just list off miracle after miracle. Sometimes they'll ask me that question point-blank: why are you able to do what you do when I can't even get out of bed?
"God is just an amazing healer," I tell them, and explain that having God and family at the center of my life. You can't really argue with that because it's my side of the story. It's very disarming because it is what happened to me, and I'm telling you this works. Whether they grab it right away or in five years, that's God's work, but I'm here to spread that message. It's a fun position to be in- I'm just this mouthpiece. I'm just a busted up climber who is here to say that your life will go on … that you just need to run with it.
CP: What is something that you took for granted before the fall that you don't now?
DeMartino: I took physical activity for granted; it was something I never really thought about. I loved to climb, mountain bike, and all of that. After the accident, when I was realizing that I might not be able to do again … it was hard. Then, when I was able to go back to those activities with a new appreciation. Physical activity is what makes me feel better; I just realized that it is just an amazing gift to be able to move, to walk down the sidewalk. When you have that taken away from you, you become amazed by your body that can do these things.
I was climbing with a buddy just yesterday. We were on very steep rocks, and I have to think about every single step instead of just moving automatically. When you have to do that, you realize what a great gift mobility is.
"After the Fall" is available now. To learn more about Craig DeMartino, click here.