You Are Special
When I was born, my parents knew something was wrong. I wasn’t expected for another two months. I let out one cry and proceeded to try to let out another… but I couldn’t. My lungs were not ready to breathe.
For the next 45 minutes, the intern tried desperately to keep my tiny, helpless body alive. I finally began to
breathe on my own but, because of the lack of oxygen for so long, I had sustained some brain damage.
The intern told my mother and father that there was not much help. I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk and I would be profoundly mentally retarded. Somehow, my parents knew differently, they saw a spark in my eyes that told them, in some way, I was special.
Well, needless to say, that intern was wrong. I am able to talk and have an above-average intelligence. There is only one area that he was correct in, I cannot walk, so I use a wheelchair.
Now this may not seem to be a problem, but when I was a kid growing up with all the “normal kids” I had a slightly different perspective.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
-I Corinthians 10:13 NIV
Oh sure, I was able to intellectually compete with others my age, but when you’re a kid it seems that what you can do physically, is what counts – and I was definitely lacking in that area. Often, I was ridiculed and teased because of my uncontrollable jerky movements. Many times, I was excluded from activities, and this hurt.
By 9th grade I rebelled against anything and everything that got in my path. Deep down, I knew the real reason for my bad attitude was self-pity. I wanted so badly to be excepted by my classmates that I was willing to do anything, even as far as to go against everything I believed, just to win over their friendship.
During my sophomore year in high-school I noticed a notable change in my parents. They had gone to a Christian Weekend Conference. When they came back, they were so incredibly happy. To them, God was somehow not just another thing to believe in, but the reason for living. Whatever they did or said, somehow–in one way or another–related back to God. The strangest thing about all of this was that they seem to make sense when talking about him. It was an aura of peace about them that was so calm. I began to sense there was more to God than just going to church on Sundays.
My parents encouraged me to go to a Christian weekend get-together for teens called “The Happening.” After days of wrestling with the idea, I finally went. When I arrived at church, I was immediately greeted with a hug from a guy I didn’t even know! I began to wonder what I was getting into. When everyone arrived, we were all assigned to small groups called “family.” At first, I was quite nervous – expecting to be ignored just as I was in school. But, there was something different about this group of kids. They didn’t ignore me or treat me differently. They trusted me, they told me their thoughts, fears, and past experiences.
The more we were together, the more we trusted each other as we laughed and cried about what mattered to us most.
Everything we spoke of always, in some way or another, had one thing in common: God. I began to understand why we were called a family. We were so much more than just a traditional sense of the word, we were a Family of God. I finally understood why my parents were so profoundly happy. This changed my whole outlook on life and it was at this point that I asked Jesus Christ to enter my life.
Well, I wish I could say this was the end of my story, but it isn’t. Yes, I was “born again” but that doesn’t automatically exempt you from having problems.
There was still an aspect of my life I hadn’t dealt with: I believed society when it told me I was second-rate.
After graduating from high school, I went directly to college with no idea of what to do with my life. I lived in a dormitory full of kids my age. Wow! I finally had a chance to make friends and be one of the guys… or so I thought. By the time my sophomore year came rolling around, it seemed that all my friends were drinking. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t be one of the “guys”. I just wanted to be excepted like I was at “The Happening.”
So, I finally decided to drink with them. At first, it was once every other week, soon, I was getting drunk four times a week. The guys seemed to respect me and talked to me. But, the more I drank, the more I wanted to drink. Then things changed, the guys were excluding me just as before and I found that out they were laughing at me, not with me. It got to the point were not only did I drink to be one of the guys, I also drank to get away from my problems.
One weekend when I went home, my mother pushed me into the family room and closed the door behind us. She gave me a folded piece of paper and demanded that I read it as she sat on the couch and waited. I open the piece of paper and it read something like, “Dear Gary, I love you so very much, but I sense something is terribly wrong with you. You used to be so full of life, slow to anger, and very forgiving. Now, you were always angry and seem to always have a grudge. You are causing your sister to cry for no reason. What is wrong? Is it drugs? Please tell me because I love you so much and want my old Gary back. The person that was kind, loving, and patient. God wants you back too. Love, Mom.”
After reading this, I looked into her teary eyes and assured her it wasn’t drugs (which was a lie, alcohol is a drug) and that I would change. This incident hit straight into my heart! For the first time, I realized that my drinking was affecting others, including God. Shortly after, I prayed to God and asked him to help me. I asked him to send me people, more than I could handle, to help them with their problems – whatever they maybe. Well, I learned to never ask God to give me more than I can handle because he just might do that very thing. He sent to my door people having troubles with drugs, homosexuality, and suicide.
I remember one incident vividly. I got a knock on my door. Standing there was a young 20-year old girl, with tears rolling down her cheek. I invited her in and asked her what was wrong. She said, “Gary I want to kill myself. Nobody loves me. My parents are alcoholics and hardly acknowledged my existence. No matter how hard I try, people just don’t seem to care about me.” Wow. I need help on this one. I quickly prayed and then proceeded to talk to her. We talked for half an hour, I told her how special she was to me and to God. I said to her that it doesn’t matter to God whether you are homeless on the street or the President of the U.S. You are just as special to Him as anyone else.
After the half hour was up, she gave me a big hug and thanked me. I told her it wasn’t me talking, but God talking through me. We both thanked the Lord for what he taught both of us. I even learned something, I learned that even I am special in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what society thinks. God always has the ultimate answer. After learning this important lesson, I quit drinking altogether. Christ was the center of my life again; stronger than ever. I finally had a purpose in life, to help others see how special they are.
For this reason, I pursued a major in human services, along with my second major in mathematics. For the first time, I tried real hard to learn all I could and in my last year I got straight A’s. I now work for the U.S. Department of Energy as an Engineering Technician.
Now in my spare time, I go to elementary school to talk to the kids about my handicap. I no longer have self-pity because I know that God has given me life for reason. Neither do I see my handicap as a hindrance, but a way to reach others. It has given me the ability to see things in a different light. I use this gift to help others see the glory of God. My parents gazed into my eyes in the infancy and saw that spark, they knew it in some way I was special.
Indeed, they were right. I never stop thanking God for my life.