Stroke Freed 26-Year-Old Beauty Queen From Beauty, Helps Her See the Hope That Heals

After her stroke at 26, Katherine Wolf came close to death. Then she redefined beauty and changed her attitude.

By Nancy Flory Published on March 3, 2017

Former beauty queen Katherine Wolf suffered a nearly fatal stroke at the age of 26, but the after-effects of paralysis in her face and body did not devastate her. Even though she could not walk, talk, swallow and has double vision and right ear deafness (she’s since relearned to walk, talk and eat), she’s thankful that she had the opportunity at such a young age to realize how fleeting outward beauty can be.

Wolf had to “redefine her life,” she said in a Christianity Today interview.

I am grateful that the Lord has allowed me to experience suffering at an early age. 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.

With her husband Jay, Katherine has a ministry called HopeHeals, that redefines healing and manifests hope, according to its website. “For us,” the Wolfs write on the site, “hope has not been in good thoughts or the positivity of the human spirit. As nice as they are, those things fade shockingly fast when you experience the deepest pains of life. The hope we desperately cling to with every fiber of our being is the only true hope that heals — hope in Jesus Christ.”

Putting Beauty in Perspective

Wolf said that the stroke helped put appearance and beauty in perspective: “When I had the stroke, so much was stripped away in terms of my physical abilities … 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.”

Change starts with “re-narrating beauty and meditating on the truth that our worth is 100 percent connected to who we are in Christ,” said Wolf. “We are people made in God’s image. We have the glory of God in us and we are his beloved. Nothing else is required from us to be worthy but accepting that he loves us, imperfections and all.”

As long as we are in this body, we won’t be completely free of worries about our appearance, Wolf said. “[B]ut we can be more comfortable when we recognize that it isn’t all that matters. My relationship with Jesus makes the difference.”

It’s critical, she said, that parents teach their daughters that they are pleased with her and that God loves her tremendously and she has an “important place” in their family and God’s family.

Suffering at a young age can have a beautiful outcome in that it affects and informs the rest of one’s life. But Wolf adds, “Suffering is not the end of the story. The beauty of the gospel is that we see a better story being written and coming out of our sufferings, which changes the way we live the rest of our lives.”

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