If there is one truth I would want every person with cerebral palsy (or any other form of disability) to hear, it’s that you are worth more than you think! You are worth more than what your brain sometimes tells you. And you are most certainly worth more than the opinions others may have about you.
As someone who is always his own worst critic, I know coming to this truth about ourselves can be extremely difficult. It is exceedingly easy to beat myself up for a lot of the mistakes 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 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 the world. 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 I would be dependent on others all my life. Thankfully God blessed me with stubborn parents who 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 wasn’t. But the odds doctors put on me were blown out of the water.
In high school, I was an angsty punk kid who didn’t see the point to life or a reason for living. My apathy only grew when in 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 so pathetic that I couldn’t carve a path in life I was proud of? If I kept at the rate I was going, probably. But something happened to me along the way that changed the course of my life forever.
In a moment of darkness, a friend came into my life who would teach me about unconditional love and forgiveness of self and others. It seemed so perfectly timed; 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 believe this moment was not by chance; it had divine fingerprints 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 listen to me in this way. He was compassionate and understanding. I felt very safe being in his presence, and during our time together he told me there was a purpose to my life. That love can and has covered all 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 in, but little by little I began to feel as though I could accomplish anything. I actually smiled and meant it, and I began to dream bigger for my life.
Now at the age of 34 I have a degree in psychology, a master’s degree in nutrition and I own my own company. I don’t list my accomplishments as a means to puff myself up, but to tell everyone who stumbles upon this that I believe 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!