I have started this post so many times, edited and deleted so many paragraphs. I've thought about just saving it, never showing it to anyone and writing about something else. But I know that, somehow, I'll probably feel better after I address the elephant in the room, so here we go.
I was in 11th grade the first time I talked about having a disability in writing. It was an essay for English, and I think I got an A. I don't like to write about it much, or even talk about it, because I don't want it to be the first thing people think of when I come to mind. I've worked very hard to be known as something other than "the girl who walks funny", and I'll keep doing that forever. But, even after twenty years of being me, I still go through phases where I just get tired of it and don't want to deal with it. There are so many bigger problems in the world that are much more important, but even so,it is hard to have a disability, because it's not something you get to choose.It's just always there, and no amount of hard work will make it go away.
I was thinking today, if I could have somehow chosen to not have Spina Bifida (that's the name of my disability if you want to Google it, but I promise it's very boring), would I have chosen that route? In many ways, my life might be easier. I could wear cute shoes and dresses without having to consider what they look like with braces and long socks, which are never cute no matter how hard I try. Maybe if I didn't walk funny, a few boys might take some interest in me. I know that's trivial, but when you're a young woman who's almost twenty one, it feels like a legitimate concern. I would get to know what it's like to go to shopping without getting stared out or invited to some well meaning person's church to be "healed". I wouldn't have to wonder if it was a factor every time I get hired or fired.
There would be many advantages to getting rid of this trial, but without it in my life, I would have missed out on some really great things. For example, If I had not been emotionally worn out one fateful Thursday by peers at school who excluded me and "accidentally" bumped into me multiple times in the hallway, I might not have come to youth group looking for guidance the night of the fateful suggestion "You should come to Honduras with us!", which turned into me seriously considering going, then actually going, and having my perspective on my faith completely turned around.
If I didn't have a physical problem that makes it impossible to hide that I'm different, I'm not sure I would have the compassion I do for children that feel different or left out, and I wouldn't be able to connect with them as well because I wouldn't be able to say "I know how you feel."
I haven't quite gotten to the point where I can consider my trails pure joy, but I can see that they have been the source of some amazing things, and maybe that's a step in the right direction. Now, that's enough of that subject, we can now return to your regularly scheduled program.