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Initiation by Fire: One Woman's Descent into Illness and Radical Rebirth

Updated: Jun 25

To those observing from the outside, 19-year-old Stephanie appeared to have it all figured out. A diligent vegetarian who practiced yoga, exercised regularly, and strived to follow all the prescribed rules for living a "healthy" life. Yet beneath the surface, her body was waging an insidious war against itself that would bring this passionate young woman to the brink of death before uprising into a sacred initiation.

It began with bizarre, debilitating symptoms - exhaustion, fevers, swollen joints and rashes sparing no corner of her body. After countless tests, the bombshell diagnosis arrived: systemic lupus and severe autoimmune dysregulation. Stephanie's own body had turned against her, confused about how to properly calibrate its defenses. This mysterious "illness" would spiral into multi-organ failure just three years later as her kidneys, lungs, and other vital systems started rapidly shutting down.

At 22 years old, Stephanie found herself in the fight of her life, hemorrhaging blood into her lungs and all her carefully cultivated health efforts unable to stop the unraveling. Her world shattered into a painful slog of emergency rooms, dialysis, hospitals, and surgeries - including two separate kidney transplants, one by age 29 the other at 40. The strong-willed woman who had faithfully followed every rule in the "health" handbook was humbled by a dark night of agonizing descents.

Yet it was this very disillusionment that sparked an alchemy no doctor could induce. As her physical form buckled under the strain of multiplying health assaults, Stephanie's psyche and soul were simultaneously stripping away. The artificial identities, beliefs, and profoundly misguided ideologies about what constituted genuine well-being had to be excruciatingly shed.

She realized the raw truth - for years, she'd been unwittingly embodying society's fragmented paradigms around diet, fitness, and "wellness" without ever addressing the roots. Despite dutifully checking all the prescribed boxes, she was still falling disastrously ill. There had to be another way.

With both professional and amateur paths exhausted, Stephanie turned inward. Drawing from the fires of her own suffering, she began an odyssey of deep soul-searching. She studied traditions of depth psychology and existential philosophy to understand herself more dimensionally than modern medicine could allow. She engaged in self-experimentation, trying different therapies and ways to care for herself mentally and physically.

Most powerfully, she did the terrifying work of unearthing all the unprocessed emotional baggage and mental conditioning that had sown the seeds of her "pathology" in the first place. Stephanie traced her earliest roots of insecurity, codependency, and lack of boundaries that twisted into increasingly dysfunctional patterns over decades. She excavated her core wounds around unworthiness that had been toxic seeds flowering into physical dissolution.

Through shadow work, inner child work, and embracing death itself as a transformative initiation, Stephanie stopped looking outside herself for a singular cure. She powerfully embodied the realization, that this experience was a divine gift from above, a rebirth that could only be orchestrated by God. She reclaimed stewardship over her health by weaving insights across multiple modalities, from both ancestral wisdom and modern evidence-based practice. Mindset, diet, movement, breathwork, emotional processing, spiritual embodiment - all became threads and foundation stones. But what was clear above all the work, was the softening and devotion to God's plan for her.

Blessed is the crisis that made you grow, the fall that made you gaze up to heaven, the problem that made you look for God ~St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Like the Phoenix rising, she blazed a trail into an undivided experience of holistic living that transcended the separate compartments of "health" and "illness." She learned to bring mindfulness to how she engaged with stress, pleasure, purpose, and relationships. Love for God above all else accompanied with self-care became the foundation, not just another personal growth platitude.

Hers has been an alchemical journey from losing everything to becoming more vibrantly herself. Not only surviving her gauntlet of descent, but now guiding others to reclaim their sovereign healing pathways amidst a culture still so confined by dogmatic, fear-based understandings of what health and sickness truly are.

Stephanie's path walks the sacred divide between daily functionality and the mystic experience of soulfully embodied living. Her medicine is the ultimate remembrance that genuine healing always draws from the inexhaustible wellsprings within. A fiery cycle of death and rebirth, from untamed spirit into the heart of what makes us profoundly, gloriously, human.

Stephanie MoDavis pior to attending a Houston Transplant Gala, 2024.

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Current Happening / Progressions

Fueled by her profound realizations, Stephanie was driven to share her hard-earned wisdom with a world still stuck in overtly often mechanistic, disembodied approaches to healthcare. She co-founded the non-profit organization Awakening Healthcare alongside her partner, the progressive physician Dr. Ruby Shah.

Their shared mission is to create holistic wellness spaces that serve as antidotes to the isolating, and sometimes dehumanizing aspects of the current medical model. We thoroughly honor the wisdom of providers but feel it’s necessary for healing to offer a paradigm shift from fear and brokenness to that of greater love and multifaceted potential via caring spaces.

By thoughtfully cultivating environments that nurture all dimensions of human need - psychological, emotional, somatic, spiritual, social - they provide sanctuaries for people to fully embody their journeys of healing and growth while honoring the medical models expertise.

Within hospital institutions, Awakening Healthcare partners with visionary healthcare providers to design and implement integrative wellness hubs. These dedicated zones offer immersive experiences like meditation and exercise studios, counseling spaces for emotional processing, somatic therapies, faith education, culinary teaching, art therapy rooms, and verdant gardens. An entire ecosystem surrounds patients with opportunities to regulate their nervous systems, explore their narratives, regain sovereignty in their bodies, and while connecting and resonating within a like minded community.

Awakening Healthcare's vision extends far beyond just in-patient services. They also establish wellness sanctuaries outplanted in local communities. These beautifully curated spaces provide general public access to many of the same humanizing offerings in a warm, non-clinical setting. From weekly gatherings to longer-term transformational programming, these community hubs nurture paths of wisdom and embodied growth.

At the core of their model is elevating the innate dignity, creativity, and resilience of each individual's journey with illness, suffering, and restoration. Mental health, spiritual crisis, addictions, chronic disease management, trauma recovery - these are not just diagnoses to be treated but portals into heroic initiations beckoning each person's highest capacities to bloom. This is the core principle and message Awakening Healthcare transmits….we see the potential not the brokenness. With individualized accessible resources, we can regenerate a culture that opens powerful potential rooted in coherence once held for the privileged or enlightened.

For Stephanie, it has been a hero's journey from nearly losing her life on more than one occasion to being a steward of life’s sacred mysteries. Her work is living activism, dismantling the inherited frames that constrained health into a small, reductionist vision of human potential. With Awakening Healthcare and beyond, she is ensuring a new generation has the permission, resources and sacred spaces to encounter their fullest possibilities for integrated wholeness – from inner cosmoses to embracing the cosmic whole.

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