Ten years ago, I took a huge leap of faith by quitting a career in social work to pursue something that seemed too good to be true. I started speaking as my full-time career. I started Obscure Ministries, a non-profit organization that is a ministry devoted to speaking about Jesus Christ through the use of telling my story. I can’t believe where God has taken me. I have traveled to various states and across the world. I have been blessed to speak to thousands of people and have met incredible individuals along the way.
This past year has been a year of deep reflection. I am in the process of writing my autobiography. By writing out my life story, I have had to relive it in ways I never imagined. Through both speaking and writing, I revisit emotions like doubt, anger, fear, and sadness. But through writing, these emotions sit with me and cause me to wrestle through them and I find that being distracted from them is more difficult.
Writing my autobiography has been something I have thought about for years. I finally started working on it in December of 2009. Through this process, I realized that there is more to writing than one might think. Who knows? It could take me years before it is completed, but this is a dream and I am grateful to be on my way in seeing it come to fruition.
Many have supported the idea of me writing my story because they have heard me speak it. My story is a redemptive one. I was that kid who struggled in wondering what I had to offer the world, if anything. Physically, I am limited. Since junior high, I have dealt with a muscle and nerve disease that has been difficult to cope with and to live through. In high school, the disease became so debilitating that I was confined to a wheelchair, and during that time people had to dress, bathe, and feed me.
I felt imprisoned by my immobility. I wrestled with me. I wasn’t like everybody else. I experienced common emotions that many people feel everyday, but for whatever reason, I made those emotions exclusive only to me. I felt useless. I felt unlovable, ugly. I was lonely and had this underlying fear that nobody would ever be able to relate to me or my insecurities.
My sense of isolation distanced me from a world that seemed so mobile. I felt stuck. Would the world pass me by? Would I be forgotten? I worried if I would ever regain the capability to move at all. Because I looked different physically, I slipped through the cracks, either going unnoticed or because my disability looked so awkward that people stared and made snide comments when they walked by. I allowed the reactions of others to define my confidence and determine who I was. As a result, I believed I was a freak.
I wondered about my place in society. Would I ever amount to anything? Could I ever become someone? In college, I experienced a miraculous healing in a P.E. class. I started to walk again by being involved in swimming two days a week for a couple of years. Water therapy was so rehabilitating and provided me with such strength that it eventually enabled me to walk. By moving in water and not fighting against gravity, swimming became the tool God used to help me regain mobility. And at that point, I was accepting my life confined to a wheelchair. I thought I would never walk again. God had other plans.
I worked at Hume Lake Christian Camps for seven consecutive summers. My time working summers at Hume Lake gave me opportunities that I could never have dreamed. For example, it was the place I started telling my story to hundreds of high school students every week. I witnessed how God used my life story to inspire and give hope to students who came to camp. Many of these students came to Hume broken, and through conversations I had with them after they heard my story, I began to understand that my life journey had purpose. My challenges not only gave meaning to me, but I realized they were also giving meaning to others.
A person never knows how he or she can be used. It often requires a painful process. But God uses our stories as a redemptive process that brings Him glory. The fruit is not the sprinting to get to the next stage, but true growth is found in walking through the process even when sometimes it seems like a crawl. I am moving and I thank God for that. Let God be in your life and He will move you too. It is a lesson I am learning through the use of my own story.