“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Life has a way of giving us things we never expected. Moments that cause us to stop dead in our tracks and challenges how we think.
Although it may sound weird to some to memorialize such an event, 22 years ago yesterday was the day I became physically disabled. Technically it was the first of many days I started to experience severe side effects from radiation treatments that caused me to become physically disabled. It’s amazing to think back on how life has changed since then, in good ways and in some not so great ways.
Growing up, I never imagined becoming disabled but I honestly cannot imagine life without my disabilities. They have strengthened my faith, my character, and every little part of me. They have given me opportunities I never dreamed of. Being disabled has taught me many things including the true meaning of perseverance and humility. That sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone, take a look from a different angle, and readjust your plans in order to fully embrace change. That there will be moments when all you can do is dust off your hands, say “okay God, I give up” and hope for the best.
But above all some of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years are to always look for the simple things, to have an attitude of gratitude and to know that God may not always be fair but He is generous. There are times in life where nothing seems to make sense, things don’t work out how you expected them to, and everything feels like it’s going wrong. But if you sit back and take the time to notice the tiniest of blessings in life like the sunset or the moon at night, you’d be surprised at how much you have to be thankful for. To realize how generous God is even when things aren’t going as you planned.
One of my slightly embarrassing childhood dreams was to be an Olympic gymnast and to go on to compete at gymnastics at a college level. After watching the Olympics one summer, I fell in love with gymnastics and immediately begged my mom to enroll me in a local gym. It is such an exhilarating feeling to be on the uneven bars, flipping through the air. Obviously once I got sick with cancer and became disabled, plans changed. However, years later, after re-teaching myself to walk and when physical therapy started to become repetitive, I quit therapy and picked up gymnastics again. This time though they were one-on-one sessions with my coach and everything we did was specially modified to fit my needs. I wasn’t on a team and didn’t compete but that didn’t matter. I was just happy to be back at doing something I loved and never thought I’d be able to do again.
Life is not what I planned as a child but it has brought me so many wonderful adventures that I never even imagined existed.
“Gratitude doesn’t change the scenery. It merely washes clean the glass you look through so you can clearly see the colors.”