My Friend Diana

  • Aug. 8, 2018
  • #9463

Diana demonstrated true friendship when she dropped what she was doing in order to stay by Joni’s side after her accident.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and it’s National Friendship Week.

And all this week I'm talking about special friends God used in my life in a big way. As I’ve shared before, when I broke my neck at the age of 17, it was earth-shattering! One moment, I was healthy, athletic, heading to college, with a bright future and big dreams and the next instant I’m a quadriplegic. Everything from toileting to bathing, to feeding myself, all of it was out of my hands. It appeared my dreams were crushed. And for more than three months in the hospital, I was just numb — just moving on a gurney from one exam room to the next. And it wasn’t getting any better.

Once the get-well cards stopped coming, and everyone went back to their routines, depression settled over me. There were nights when I would wrench my head back and forth on the pillow, hoping that I would break my neck at some higher level and put an end to my life. But now, fifty years later, I look back at those dark times and I wonder: ‘How did I make it? When did the breakthrough happen?’ One thing is for sure; I had Christian friends rallying around me, praying for me and encouraging me in meaningful and practical ways, friends like Diana.

Diana was a constant companion when I was in the hospital recovering from my spinal cord injury. I first met her in 10th-grade biology class, but she wasn’t just a casual friend. She took friendship a giant step beyond most of the young people I knew did. Because when I was in rehab for a full year, Diana took a semester away from college, so she could be a candy-striper in the hospital (that way, Diana realized she could help me more).

Oh, my goodness, why does she still inspire me to this day? Well, when I broke my neck, she lived out John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." When I finally graduated from rehab, Diana continued to lay down her life for me helping me to adjust to my new life in a wheelchair. She even convinced me [she was the one who told me] that I should sign up for classes at the University of Maryland (she found notetakers to assist me, and other helpers to meet me in the cafeteria). In short, she became the gospel to me, showcasing what John 15:13 should look like in everyday life. Diana taught me that regular Christian service is supposed to be sacrificial service.

It’s what Christian friends should do for each other. It’s all about laying down your life for others. It’s about going the extra mile and making the extra effort. It’s about caring; in fact, it was Diana who introduced me to Steve Estes, the young man whom I told you about who became my spiritual mentor and helped me dig deep into the Bible. Diana knew she was too inexperienced to answer my toughest questions about God, but she also knew there was someone who could answer them, and I'll never forget that day she said to me, “Jon, here’s a guy who is going to be your best help in getting out of depression and don’t let his youth fool you. Steve Estes knows the Bible.”

So take a minute, and go to my radio page today at and see a photo of Diana and me after I got out of the hospital – I think we were about 19 or 20 years old. And while you are there, watch a great video of Steve Estes as he reflects on what it was like to help me when I was depressed. It might help you. It’s all happening at God bless you today and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.

© Joni and Friends



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