Guest Post: What to Do When Your Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan by Ryan Atkins

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Ryan Atkins (C3/C4 SCI, 2009), a speaker and writer sharing hope and inspiration for eternally minded living. Connect with him at

For seven long years after my spinal cord injury, all my hopes and dreams were tied to a very specific outcome: I was going to leave the challenges of quadriplegia behind and be back on my feet in time to marry my childhood sweetheart.

I had written the perfect script for my life—so you can imagine my frustration when God wasn’t reading his lines.

The wedding came and went, but my body remained paralyzed.


Hope Meets Reality

Your story might look different, but we are all hoping for something.

What is the dream you are going after? What is the desire you have been believing and praying for?

Maybe it is for your business to take off or to have the family you’ve always dreamed of.

Maybe you’re hoping to reconcile with a loved one or to finally experience healing from chronic pain or illness.

It’s important to remember that these are noble aspirations. It is crucial to have a hope for the future. To look forward to better days. However, is it possible there is a better way to balance our hope for the future with the reality of our current circumstances?

It is easy to get jaded by disappointment, pain, and frustration, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. I may have been misguided in where my hope was anchored, but I have learned a tremendous amount from the experience.

The Gifts of Adversity

My physical challenges do not define me. In fact, they provide an opportunity for growth that simply would not be possible with a carefree lifestyle.

Life is not solely about my own comfort and convenience. Being able to understand suffering firsthand allows me to empathize with others on a much deeper level.

We must hold our best laid plans loosely, knowing we do not have full control over the way our hopes and dreams play out.

We can plan.

We can work hard.

We can pray.

We can believe.

And while we wait with hopeful expectation, we can put our maximum effort into being a light for a world that is desperately in need of hope and a helping hand.

A Special Gift for Spinalpedia Readers

I would like to invite you into my story. It is a story of believing for miracles, making audacious plans for the future, and ultimately discovering a perspective I’d love to share with you—one that keeps temporary setback and disappointment from controlling our lives.

Typically, I have a bonus package delivered to those who purchase my book.


However, I have so enjoyed being part of the Spinalpedia community and I would love for others dealing with SCI to benefit from this package, regardless of if you have interest in this book.

Check out the bonus section at and use “SPINALPEDIA” as the retailer and I will send you the following:

– The Path to Perseverance: 6 Ways to Stay Strong and a Difficult Season (interactive PDF guide)

– A list of 25 recommended books that will change your life

– Chapter 1 of my new book, One Step Closer: How a Life-Altering Accident Led Me to Everything I Almost Missed

I hope you find value in these resources!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Ryan Atkins (C3/C4 SCI, 2009), a speaker and writer sharing hope and inspiration for eternally minded living at



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