Life can be painful, it can be joyous but it is definitely ironic. I cannot say that I have experienced both extremes of joy and pain but I can say I have come close.
Born into a fairly wealthy family and to a father who was ready to go to any length for his baby girl, I was a girl who had everything she needed and wanted, except for one vital thing which money could not buy. I was born with a genetic disorder known as sickle cell anaemia. It is an irreversible condition that I have to live with for the rest of my life.
Growing up was difficult. I spent most of my life in hospital and when I was out of hospital I could not do much playing either. As children, we burn up a lot of energy jumping and running. I had to learn not to burn up the little energy that I had as low energy meant injections and drips for days, weeks and sometimes months.
As you can imagine this made me very unpopular, at school nobody wanted me on their team because I was too weak to contribute much and having me on their side meant they ran the risk of losing, especially in physical games. Staying in hospital for treatment also cost me a whole academic year, which made things even worse. I felt then that this must definitely be the lowest point in my life, but I was wrong.
My teenage years were a nightmare. I hardly got invited to parties, and sleepovers were a no-go-area. Forget about being noticed by boys, that was just a figment of my imagination. Not that things had changed that much at the time; it was just that possible suitors had a more mature way of backing off. It was hard and no one fully understood.
My tiredness was usually misinterpreted as laziness or weakness. It was a battle that I had to fight on my own. I use the word “had”, not because I no longer fight the battle but because I no longer fight it on my own.
All along, I felt an emptiness that nobody could fill. I knew for certain that God did exist, but why he had chosen me to carry this burden I did not know. One day I got tired of fighting on my own and decided to give Him a chance. At this point, life had become cruel and meaningless to me. I could no longer be hurt any further and there was nothing to lose. I said to myself “what is the worst that can happen?”
God then began to show me how my life was intended to tell a story. A story which teaches that money isn’t all that matters. He showed me how He had limited my physical ability so that that I might enable Him to show the world that He is able to do all things. He humbled me that I might rely on him for everything without even taking the air I breathe for granted.
He showed me the true meaning of love. I had butterflies in my tummy, a feeling I can’t even begin to describe in words. I often pause to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Could someone really love me or was I just imagining things?
His love was not tied to any material gift, neither did He seduce me with words, but as I read the Bible, He became more real each time. When I am in pain and I remember his words which say “He will never leave me nor forsake me”, I begin to realise I am not alone. When I remember his words which say “He will never put more on me than I can bear”, I suddenly begin to feel strong again. The more I trust Him, the fewer attacks(crisis) I have. His word are like medicine to me.
To all my brothers and sisters that the world has labeled disabled, I urge you to rise and rejoice. You are more important than you will ever understand. As an old adage says “practice makes perfect” it is impossible for the world to learn love without us.
I dare say no one can say they love until they are able to love the unlovable. How can you say you love if you are unwilling to clean the saliva off someone whose condition limits their control over their bodily fluids or treat people with a condition beyond their control as normal? These people matter and Jesus said that anyone who feeds the hungry feeds Him, and anyone who clothes the naked clothes Him. I am certain beyond a doubt that if His disciples had asked Him about those we call disabled He would also tell them that anyone that takes care for them especially emotionally, takes care of Him.
For those of you who know my Friend, the lover of my soul, our Lord Jesus, I believe you know what I am trying to say. And for those who are yet to give Him a chance, I plead with you to do so. Your life will never be the same. Trust me; you’ve got nothing to lose. Thinking of it now I begin to see that the pain I feel was not intended to hurt me. I feel so privileged that my weakness can be used to show strength, that because of me someone can learn the God kind of love.
Rather than show love to those that bother to care, show sympathy. I ask you today to feel sorry for me no more as I no longer feel sorry for myself.
I now fully understand why I was created this way. My parents say it was a mistake born out of ignorance. Science calls it anaemia, the doctors call it a disease, the world calls it a disability, but I call it God’s divine purpose. Words fail me to express how valuable the so-called disabled are to God because they play an important part in history, a history that we may not get to understand here, though I believe that eternity will explain it all.