This blog has become a place where I try to follow the Lord’s call on my life and put my story out there. My hope is that someone going through a similar situation can learn from my journey and know that they are not alone.
I hope in that, it is obvious that none of this is about me but about what the Lord can do.
Last week, I stood in front of the people who have become my family at UF and tried to tell them all that the Lord has done in my life since starting college and how they have played a massive part in pulling me through some of the hardest stuff I’ve faced.
This small piece of the internet I own has also become a place where I try to thank the people that mean the most to me.
So, this post is for two reasons: to thank those people and to hopefully show you the power of true community.
College has undoubtedly been way harder than I thought it would be.
As a freshman, I hit a point where I was wondering what the heck I was doing at UF. I yelled at God for putting Cerebral Palsy (CP) in my life. I couldn’t accept my situation, so I felt like it was impossible for me to be loved and accepted by other people.
I thought about the future more than ever and was filled with more fear than ever.
It was a year of loneliness, anger and fear.
But then through a friend from home, I was brought into a community that wrapped their arms around me and accepted me and my brokenness in a way I can truly say, I’ve never experienced before.
I’ve always been the shy, quiet kid. I tend to hide a little and step back, feeding into my number one fear: that my crutches and I are a burden to people.
But suddenly, I found myself in a huddle of people who broke down pretty much every wall I had built. A group that didn’t care about my crutches but cared about me. People who I cried in front of, was brutally honest with and people who walked with me through my darkest places.
People who recognized my struggle with CP and everything that comes with that and pointed me to Jesus, even when he was who I was maddest at.
People who said through their actions and words that they weren’t going to leave me.
Through lots of tears, time in the Word and the most honest conversations I’ve ever had, these people have helped me see that I am so much more than my disability and that I have so much worth.
Putting on a brave face is something I’ve become really good at. But I’m so thankful for this community that has seen past just my brave face and seen the truth of what I struggle with. Even when I don’t want them to.
The past two years, I have grown so much in my faith. And I owe that to the people I’ve found here, who I’ve been able to lean on.
Two years ago, if you asked me how I felt about having CP, I would’ve told you that I wouldn’t change it because I knew that the Lord had a plan to use it in my life.
Half of me believed that. Half of me was probably saying it because it was what I wanted to believe, but I didn’t really.
In the past two years, through the people who the Lord instrumentally placed in my life, I have learned these things:
An eternal mindset is what matters. With a focus that one day, when I’m with the Lord, I’ll wake for the first time in my life pain-free, I’ll run and I’ll kick a soccer ball without falling over, I can find true joy and hope.
I have worth in being a Child of God that isn’t any less because of my CP.
My story isn’t about me. It’s about how the Lord has taken one the hardest things in my life and used it for his glory.
Honesty and vulnerability are scary. But they're what builds the most meaningful relationships.
True community can change your life and save your life. It did both of those things to mine.
Today if you ask me how I feel about having CP, I’d tell you wholeheartedly that it is one of the biggest blessings in my life, it’s 100% what keeps me rooted in my faith and it’s full of hope. Because the Lord’s plan is great, and my CP isn’t forever.
But I would also tell you that I would’ve never believed that or found that answer if I didn’t meet the people I did at UF.
To my UF Navs fam, you truly have no clue just how deep your impact has been on my life. Thank you for loving me and accepting me and helping me do the same to myself. Thank you for pointing me to the truth even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. Thanks for pushing me out of my box and helping me to be things I never thought I could be.
To the freshman or new kid on a college campus struggling with something, feeling alone and unworthy: I was you. It may take a bit to find true community, and that’s okay. It took me a year.
But keep looking for it.
And when you find it, invest. Be honest, don’t run away when you want to.
Because those are the times you really should stay.