If there was one truth that I would want every person with cerebral palsy—or any other form of disability—to know, it’s the reality that you are worth more than you think! You are worth more than want your brain tells you. And most certainty are worth more than the opinions that others may have about you.
Coming to this truth about ourselves is extremely difficult, as someone who is always his own worst critic. It is exceedingly easy to beat myself up for a lot of the mistakes that I have made in life. It’s easy to listen to the depressive and destructive thoughts in my head, that tell me I’m nothing and that people are better off without me. Though it's easy to listen to, it's extra difficult to understand that those are all lies.
I am NOT nothing and people are NOT better off without me. I have gifts and talents to offer people. At the inception of my life, I wasn’t given much chance of survival, due to low birth weight and damage to the center ventricle of my brain. Doctors told my parents that I would be dependent on others all my life.
Thankfully, God blessed me with stubborn parents that wouldn’t accept that as truth. I started gaining weight, and when I was discharged from the hospital, things only kept getting better for me. That’s not to say that everything was a cake walk – it definitely wasn’t. My point is, the odds that doctors put on me were blown out of water.
But in high school, I was an angsty punk kid that really didn’t see the point to life or a reason for living. My apathy only grew. My senior year, I had a meeting with the higher ups of special education. In short, they basically told me that I wasn’t smart enough for college or anything of the sort. Again, I fully admit my apathy. But the comments made in that room sent me on a path of great turmoil.
Was I really that pathetic that couldn’t carve a path in life in which I was proud of? Well, if I kept at the rate I was going, probably. Yet something happened to me along the way that changed the course of my life forever.
In a moment of darkness, a friend was brought into my life. One that would teach me about unconditional love and forgiveness (of self and others). It seemed so perfectly timed that this random stranger came right up to me, when all I wanted to do was go home and find a way to not wake up.
I know that this moment was not by chance, but had divine finger prints all over it. That summer, my new friend and I hung out almost all the time, and most of the time it was us driving around as he listened to me rant about my life.
I had never had someone in my life listen to me in this way. He was really compassionate and understanding. I felt very safe being in his presence, and it was in our time together that he told me that there was a purpose to my life. That love can and has covered all of my mistakes.
Wow, my life had purpose? I wasn’t the sum total of my mistakes, people didn’t define me, and I didn’t have to go the rest of my life feeling worthless and shame filled. It took time to let this new reality set it, but little by little I began to feel as though I could accomplish anything. I smiled and meant it, and I actually began to dream bigger for my life.
Now, at the age of 34, I have a degree in psychology, I own my own company, and have a master’s degree in nutrition. I don’t list my accomplishments as a means to puff myself up but to tell everyone that stumbles upon this—that there is always a light leading out of the darkness.
Your life matters. You have purpose. You have gifts and talents to offer the world. There is forgiveness and grace to lead you out of shame and regret. There is love that will lift you from the darkest depth to highest heaven.
YOU ARE MORE THAN YOU THINK!
Image credit: Photo by Ricardo IV Tamayo on Unsplash