When I was young, all I wanted to be was a mother. I was drawn to babies like the stereotypical “moth to a flame.” Anywhere I went, if the opportunity arose, I had a baby on my hip.
But I have mild Cerebral Palsy: ataxia and hemiplegia. This means it affects my balance and predominantly impacts one side of my body. I had a deep fear that no one would want me – that my maternal dream would not be fulfilled because I was not what society has deemed as a “perfect girl.”
I confessed this fear to my Mom one night at bedtime. “God has someone for you,” she promised. (I bet in her mother’s heart that she prayed it to be true.)
When I was just shy of 15, I went on a school exchange trip to Wildwood, Alberta. During that trip, I met Tim again. We had previously met at a Christian camp years before. He remembered me. I did not remember him. We talked for three hours on a bus ride until I lost my voice. Obviously, I did most of the talking!
From then on, our chaperones secretly orchestrated opportunities for us to be together. Tim got an extra trip up to the top of the CN Tower so that he could go with me. Years later, one of them remarked that she could not believe it worked!
I wrote him a note, with a flap taped over my burning question, with the instructions not to open it unless he was in a “very, very good mood.” It read: “Does my CP bother you?”
It did not. Tim has never treated me like anything but as a whole person. He has had to modify plans to accommodate my challenges and has done so in stride – each and every time. We have three beautiful children and my heart’s desire and prayers were answered.
When I had to acquire a crutch a few years back, I revealed to a friend that “Tim didn’t mind it.” But I minded it – it was another visible reminder that I was different, and felt less worthy and desirable… that I was slipping a bit more down society’s attractiveness scale.
After almost twenty years of marriage, plus eight years of dating, I still felt insecure as a wife and mother, and friend. I have been a Christian for thirty plus years and I still am insecure about how society views me. I still catch myself asking, ‘Have you told them about my CP?” prior to meeting someone new.
My focus continually needs to be realigned so that I am not so concerned about what the world thinks, but instead about what God thinks of me. My two favourite verses are:
“…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required…” – Luke 12:48 (NKJV)
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” – John 15:13 (NKJV)
Although this verse is referring to Christ dying on the cross for us, I think it also compels us to put our own wants aside for the good of others. The more I focus on serving others, the less I fixate on my physical (dis)abilities. I think it is a much healthier way to live.
When I consider my disability now, I do so with a different perspective (most of the time!). I feel that it was God’s way of protecting me from possible heartache resulting from broken relationships. Only a guy who was mature and serious would take me on – especially at such a young age!
I try to remind myself daily of all the blessings in my life and live with an attitude of gratitude. Honestly, I have been so blessed that I don’t have the right to do anything but that! I don’t know what the future holds in terms of my mobility – but He does. And I know that He has brought me this far and will be with me “every step” of my future. It is He who makes me well.
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Janice Potvin says
Heidi, you have been a inspiration ever since I met you in 1996. I remember praying for your first pregnancy, and now here you are, proving over and over that with God, nothing is impossible. Thank you for sharing your man gifts with others.
HEIDI (& TIM) ASTOUND ME AT HOW JESUS SHOWS THROUGH THEIR LIVES, LEADERSHIP