Texas Governor Greg Abbott is opening up about his faith, which he says pulled him through one of the toughest seasons in his life.
The 59-year-old spoke with NBC reporter Julie Fine for the network’s “Beyond Belief: Faith in Texas” series.
He shared how his faith in God was instilled in his life at an early age. He said it was critical in changing his life after an accident left him paralyzed.
“Religion and faith have been part of my life for my very beginning,” said the former Attorney General of Texas. “My grandfather was a pastor in the countryside of Texas where I grew up, and so it’s been just a natural part of my life that has continued through life’s events.”
He said that he drifted away from his faith during his teenage years, but it was rekindled when he met his wife of 36 years, Cecilia Phalen.
Abbott became a Catholic after their marriage in 1981.
Abbott said his faith was put to the test after an accident in 1984.
He told CBN News about the incident.
“I was out jogging one day and a big 80-foot oak tree fell on me,” he recalled in a 2013 interview. “Hit me in the back, fractured my vertebrae and my spinal cord, leaving me instantly and forever paralyzed, needing to use a wheelchair.”
Abbott said it did shake his faith, but only for a moment.
“That question may have arisen for a day or for an hour. But really no longer than that,” he said. “And the reasons why those questions didn’t linger really is because of my faith, because I’ve always been one who believed God has a pathway forward for us.”
“And frankly it’s one of those times when I leaned on God,” he continued. “Leaned on my faith more than ever before, and was literally pulled up, pulled forward, moved onward because of the role that God played in my life during that challenging time.”
Abbott told NBC that his accident brought him closer to God and has not stopped him from pursuing all that God has called him to do.
“What hasn’t changed is the core of your life, and if the core of your life is God-centered, then everything is going to work out just fine,” the Texas governor said.
After the accident, Abbott finished law school and became a member of the Texas Supreme Court. He went on to win election as the state’s Attorney General. In 2015, he was elected as Texas’ 48th governor.
Abbott said that through it all he has learned to tackle life’s challenges with God on his side.
“With God as your guidepost, you will be able to overcome any challenge that ever comes your way,” he said.