As a young girl growing up in Boone, N.C., Betsy Bolick often wrote in her journal about not being “normal enough, pretty enough, tall enough or funny enough.”
Betsy Bolick’s Small Enough Ministries allows her to travel and speak to various groups about her story and how God has worked in her.
Today she leads a nonprofit organization named Small Enough Ministries (besmallenough.org). Now an adult, Bolick seeks to tell others what she has learned: “The Lord told me, ‘I have made you small enough for the purpose that I have for you – so that I can be big.’”
Bolick was born with sacral agenesis, which causes abnormal fetal spine development. She is missing calf muscles and three parts of her lower sacrum, has no feeling in her feet and, growing up, had no control of her bladder. She wore diapers until she was 13. Pain and fatigue continue to be part of her daily life.
Bolick realized she was different when she was six years old, she told the Biblical Recorder in an interview. She recalled walking around in a K-mart, wearing shorts, when another little girl approached her and asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
“I remember thinking, ‘Well nothing’s wrong with me. I’m my dad’s little princess. I’m perfect,’” she said. “I remember going home and looking at my twin’s legs and thinking, ‘Those don’t look like mine.’”
So she began to hide. She stopped wearing shorts. Bolick started to believe she was unworthy of affection, a burden she carried in secret. Bolick grew up in a Christian home and was raised by parents devoted to the Lord. She knew the Bible but said she “couldn’t reconcile the God of the Bible with the God of my life.”
“I was always the one in the hospital, and I was always the one having surgeries,” she said. “I couldn’t get past Genesis 1. If we’re created in His image and it’s very good, then why isn’t there anything good about me? I really started to believe this lie that God hated me.
“The words of the world became what I believed about myself: that I was ugly, that I was deformed, that I was broken.”
Bitterness took root and grew in her heart, and Bolick’s perception of herself turned into her reality. After being teased for wearing diapers one day in middle school, she went home and cried, “Lord, do You even see me?”
“It says in Genesis 16 that when Hagar’s in the wilderness, the Lord comes and He rescues her, and she says, ‘Show You are the God who sees me.’ In Psalm 18, it says that He comes down from on high to rescue us, the cries of His people reach His ears. I was just crying out to the Lord, ‘rescue me from this,’” she said. One morning that same year, for the first time in 13 years, Bolick woke up with a dry diaper.
“I never regularly wore diapers again after that,” she said. “I knew that God saw me and that He loved me. My bladder’s not perfect, not anywhere close, but that wasn’t my prayer. My prayer was that He would see me.”
A platform for God’s glory
Bolick’s journey to publicly sharing her testimony took a few detours. When she started college at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., she chose nursing as her major with hopes of helping people like herself.
She knew, however, that God was calling her to ministry.
“No, I don’t want to do it,” Bolick remembered thinking. However, she couldn’t pass a single test in nursing, so she switched to psychology. Still, it wasn’t the place for her.
At the end of a speech she gave for a class, her professor approached her and said, “That was a good speech, but you don’t belong here. You belong in ministry, and I think you know that.”
She left the psychology program that very day and transferred to religion with a specialization in women’s ministry. Once she answered the call to share her story, doors started opening, and more people asked to hear it.
“For somebody that was so angry to be different, I thank the Lord every day that He’s given me this platform to say to people, ‘Let God use your pain for a purpose.’ Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered. Why would we be any different?” Bolick said. “I wouldn’t trade my story for anything.”
Bolick later earned a master’s degree in church leadership and ethics from John Brown University and is currently enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) to pursue a degree in professional counseling. Prior to studying at SEBTS, she served as the women’s ministry director at Charleston Southern University.
Denise O’Donoghue, director of biblical womanhood at Academy 31 in Raleigh, taught Bolick at SEBTS. She said Bolick’s enthusiasm for ministering to women made her stand out among students. In an email to the Recorder, O’Donoghue said, “She has a heart and a passion to encourage women in their walk with the Lord. I also think that one of the first things that struck me about Betsy was her total commitment to follow God to seminary, even though it meant relocating and giving up a great job to come. That can be a very scary thing for a single individual, but Betsy knew what the Lord desired of her and was obedient.”
Bolick also serves part-time at Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone, leading the women’s ministry and special events.
Seth Norris, pastor of Perkinsville Baptist, said she brings “an authentic joy” to the staff and church family, as well as a renewed sense of urgency for the Great Commission.
“She is a compassionate soul who would give every hour of her day away to others if she could,” he said in an email to the Recorder. “Betsy has a heart for the least of these because there have been many seasons in her life when she felt like the least, but fortunately, she chose to follow a Savior who is so much stronger and bigger than any of us. … There isn’t one square inch of her ministry that isn’t influenced by her testimony.”
When she’s not working at Perkinsville, Bolick runs Small Enough Ministries, which seeks to “teach and train women of all ages about the power of God’s restoration and redemption.” She partners with Perkinsville to disciple women, mentoring and challenging them to use their stories for the glory of God and to reach people with the gospel.
“Betsy lives a life that is oriented toward the Great Commission and always challenges others to do the same,” Norris said. She and her sister host a weekly Bible study with female students at Appalachian State University. She disciples a couple of the students one-on-one, meeting together regularly and journeying through scripture.
Small Enough also creates opportunities for Bolick to travel and speak to churches, women’s events and students. It serves as a platform for her to share her story and profess God’s work in her life, which she roots in two passages: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and Acts 20:24.
“When sacral agenesis gets me down, and I feel discouraged by it and the enemy is getting victory in it, I think, ‘wait a minute. This carries an eternal weight of glory that outweighs all the pain and all the brokenness that I feel,’” she said. “And when we die to self, that means that even the things that hurt us die too. … I don’t count my life of value, and I fight that in my flesh because He gets that. It’s a ransomed life.”
Bolick’s upcoming speaking engagements include women’s ministry events in South Carolina this September.