To Those Who Have Been Called 'Special' Because of a Disability
One day, probably a while ago, you may have been blissfully unaware of what that word meant.
It’s a word people may use to describe other human beings who don’t exactly fit into the boxes they’re used to. It’s a word people might use to describe a disability or illness. It’s a word people could use to describe me.
Eventually you’ll look around and see you’re not exactly like the rest of the world. What you don’t yet understand is that this reality — what makes you “special” — can also be your greatest gift to everyone you meet.
Somewhere along the journey through life, we’ve confused lovable with standard, right with easy, and we have failed to remember that every person has worth. You can remind them.
But that doesn’t mean it will be easy. The people who truly care about you will desire nothing more than to protect you from life’s struggles and hardships. At the same time, they don’t want to rob you of the strength only cultivated through challenges. They don’t want to wish on you a mindset that sickness is unfair or that you’re a disappointment because of your differences. They don’t want you to think the way you are is an accident. They will, however, want to take away your pain more than anything and do all they can to keep your heart from being broken.
But here’s what I say: Let your own heart break.
Let life teach you about a broken heart, so your heart can slide right next to the people who are hurting.
Let it be broken for those who don’t know love. Let it be broken for those who can’t see beyond the stigma associated with disability.
Because of this stigma, you can be bombarded with ideas that just aren’t right. The world may say it’s hard to be a parent, sibling, spouse or friend of someone with a disability. They may attempt to tell you that life is more complicated with you around. They may try to say “normal” things are difficult because of you.
They will pull on your heart from all sides. They may use these ideas to explain your seasons of uncertainty and loneliness. They may say it’s the reason why it seems like people sympathize with you just enough to be onlookers of your life but never get close enough to touch you. They may say your friends and family aren’t just that, but caretakers who are “burdened” by your existence.
It is not true.
The rest of the world is wrong. So the only thing you can do is forgive and invite them in to see what it’s really like. Life will be tough sometimes no matter what. But it’s not because of you. It’s not because of your disability.
If I could help you change anything about your life, I’d make sure you are surrounded by people who are an example of love. I would hope they’d let you know that any obstacle they face along with you is worthwhile because it’s for you. I’d hope they would help you understand that you can do anything and nothing will hold you back from becoming the person I believe God created you to be. You are exactly the way you are supposed to be. Life has filled your lungs and along with this gift comes a purpose no one can ever erase.
I wouldn’t change you. I wouldn’t change your disability.
I’d hope if ever you doubt or question your worth, you would be surrounded by voices who would speak boldly into your heart how much you are loved. I would hope you’d understand disability is something you wear like a little girl wears her favorite dress. It doesn’t define you, but it is part of who you are. You can be proud. It compliments you and makes you shine. It flows in the wind and invites the rest of the world to twirl and laugh along with you. It enables them to see real joy. Only some people will see the dress alone and tell you how cumbersome it is. Love them, but let them go. Real friends and real family won’t pay attention to what you’re wearing.
No — actually, they will. They will see what’s on the outside and marvel at how it perfectly laces your beauty. They will see your eyes. They will see your heart. They will see you for all that you are. They will love you like they’ve never loved before.
Because it’s you. And you are the most wonderful thing that has happened to this world.
The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.
Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images