Today’s story comes to via Beth and Alicia Zinn. Their friend Ashley shares a very moving and inspiring personal story of overcoming incredible odds. She has lived a life of facing challenges head on and continues to submit herself to the Lord’s will. Be encouraged today that whatever you are facing NOTHING is impossible with God!
I was talking to a friend the other day; I said “I realized how hard I have to battle against negative self-esteem every day.” Yes, I am beautiful and I believe it. I can even admit that I Love to look at myself in the mirror, it’s a girl thing. I could care less about a pimple or the gap in my smile. I am amazingly beautiful because I was made in His image. So, where is the battle, you ask? My battle is in my blessing.
Stay with me and I will explain. If you are a parent, you know that the child you struggle to understand is your greatest blessing. If you have ever worked your way up the career ladder or to earn that degree, you know that the hours of sleep you lack will be of great result if you hold on. Great blessings can be a great irritation and require hard work. For most, my great blessing seems to be something to pity. For those who know me well it’s a true inspiration. Honestly, I feel it could fall anywhere between inconvenience and the Lord’s amazing grace. I was born with cerebral palsy. I have, in 28 years, progressed from being in a wheelchair, to a walker, to crutches and now to a cane. It has been a journey. At the age of 5 I was hit by a drunk driver walking across the parking lot of my apartment complex, something I did many times. It caused me to have sleeping seizures. For months after, my mother and sister didn’t sleep as they made sure I was breathing through the night. I also had surgery on both of my knees which required casts on both my legs for six weeks. There wasn’t a lot of prayer going on at that time. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. In fact, my mom was a widowed, single parent with two jobs, two kids, and two degrees to finish. Frankly, she probably was praying, but unsure of how or where it would get us if anywhere. However, I was always a hopeful kid, telling everyone, “God does everything for a reason.”
As I entered Junior high school, reality hit me and that hopefulness seemed to dwindle. I began to see things differently, including my reflection, not my face but my walk. I had to deal with bullies. I began to feel like having cerebral palsy had no reason. Cerebral palsy then became my burden. Depression hit me. I had struggled in school and things got even harder. I would cry myself to sleep. My mom could tell the difference in my attitude as well. Surprisingly, the roughest time of my life began here. By this point, my family had moved to east Texas and began attending church. We were believers in Christ, building our foundations in Him. It didn’t seem fair that I would become hopeless and discouraged. I had finally had found the One who does everything for a reason. I was about to find that God allows all things (good or bad) to happen so that we may find strength to persevere.
On December 24, 2002, I was in my bedroom when the phone rang. It was my god-mother calling. I thought she was calling to say Merry Christmas… not at all. She called to tell us that my god-father had passed. I was immediately inconsolable and angry. I prayed: “Why, Lord? Now I have no one”. On that day the tears eventually slowed and God reintroduced himself as God my Father who sent His Son to die for my Sin. At the age of 17, God redefined faith for me. Faith was no longer believing that God would do what I wanted him to do, but knowing that He would give me strength to persevere in whatever the situation. Through the encouragement of others I began to see that I couldn’t just say, but I had to truly believe that there was a reason for my struggles and my disability.
As a woman, I can’t cover up cerebral palsy with concealer or the latest style. Ha! It is with me. I found Gods love for me and believed in it. It would be nice to say that was the happy ending, but it’s the beginning. Over the past years, God has used me as a leader, friend, and educator to encourage and inspire others to find strength during their trials. He continuously reminds me of the thought he put in my spirit early on. He does things for a reason. He shows me His love daily through my disability and that same love is shining through me as encouragement and inspiration for others.
Many ask me “do you want to be healed?” Only if it is His will. I believe, that with cerebral palsy, I have found a divine purpose. Without it, I and many others could miss something very big that God wants us to understand. My reflection is a daily personal revelation of God’s grace and provision. I do have to battle for encouragement, confidence and strength with cerebral palsy. The reason: to bless others with the very things I have to battle for. I have to choose daily to believe in the purpose of God in every situation of my life. The harder I fight the more I am blessed and find victory. Cerebral palsy is the blessing God has given to me to be an instrument of many good things for others. What has been given to you that is divinely purposed as someone’s blessing? I have cerebral palsy and I am beautiful.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.