Recently, I joined a Cerebral Palsy support group. It felt great to share a disability with a wide range of people from different communities across the United States. I’m aware that I don’t always look I have Cerebral Palsy. But years of medical records don’t lie. I had far more painful times in my youth, than I have right now. When you’re treated for Cerebral Palsy, you don’t erase terms like “quality of life”, “range of motion”, or “physical or occupational therapy” from your memory.
My orthopedic surgeon, medical doctor, and handicap center were staples. I could not get rid of them if I tried. And often I’d have to forgo school to attend many appointments. I talk about shame so much, because in the midst of the information age, we not owning shame. Shame is a emotional response brought on by guilt or confusion over someone’s bad behavior.
We are doing everything to cover shame up. We use Instagram filters, we erase or fictionalize facts. We’re so prideful about our faults. It is insanity.
I never truly had the opportunity to cover Cerebral Palsy up. I can’t stay in shame over something that’s always been part of my life. I used to blame myself for my physical limitations, and shame other people into helping me because they were more physically able.
Recently, I reread Hebrew chapter 12. We often focus overtly on verse 1 and 2, which tell us about Jesus’s primacy as the beginning and ending of what we hope, as Christians. Romantic, ain’t it? He is the beginning and the end, we say. But that’s where we stop reading. Did you know you can hear something so often… that you don’t stop to notice when the words change significance?
Christ did not like being treated with such mocking shame. He endured the “contradiction of sinners”(Authorized King James Version, Heb 12.2).
He endured a confusing and damaged group of people to secure life for people who might never know him at all.
With my Cerebral Palsy, it can be a similar plight. I had to learn that entitlement in the sense that CP gives me a get out of jail free card, thereby absolving me of failure, is a dead-end.
I endure shame all the time, and I think that enduring shame is the mark of someone truly working toward Christian life. Christian hearts are made of more than Jesus bumper stickers, powerful ministerial work, or prideful declarative idols.
The human with Cerebral Palsy is distracted in believing that in shame is a path to”success”. They portray us as paralyzed by condition.
He or she must be helpless and in helplessness is visibility. But the autistic and disabled men and women cannot lurk in shame forever.
It took years for me to understand that I couldn’t vindicate a spiritual disease by using physical force. I can’t ask people to stop claiming that I’m misguided, ignorant, and blissfully unaware, if American media is programming them to believe that I must be “ASHAMED” for having CEREBRAL PALSY, a condition I never asked anyone for.
Like Jesus, I have to encourage myself to endure, even when there are countless swipes against my humanity.
College education in English language does not wipe away years of guilt and shame. Especially, when the very President of my own nation, cam unashamedly mock a disabled journalist. True Christianity is not about mocking those people who didn’t bring their “A” game to church. For in the process of contests and competitions, we forget that the grace of Jesus is free. Humanity can never pay for the grace of God. We can never do enough or be enough.
Evil comes to people with great character and people with merciless intentions. How do you mediate the unattainable? I used to believe that if I gained enough status, the very people who betrayed and used me as their meal-ticket would understand my spirit. But that’s what I get for trusting people more than I trust in the Lord.
Many have quoted Proverbs 3:5 as a statement of faith. It sounds good as the greatest illusion built to absolve us of any shred of penance. We all, in our idolatry have said: I’ll trust in God to vindicate me, and then we’ve gone and vindicated ourselves, thinking foolishly that God had something to do with that.
I find more hope in being a literature major everyday. Lately, the Bible shows me just how knowing of God and trusting in God are remarkably different.
In Cerebral Palsy, a malady that became synonymous with my year of birth, sufferers are afflicted with involuntary spasms, muscle deficiency that comes with the territory. I still have those deficiencies.
Being a literature student didn’t take Cerebral Palsy away. It simply gave me even more courage, to exemplify what I can about living beyond the shame, beyond the spiritual silence I’m often asked to act out.
People continue shaming me because I love things that aren’t inside their hermetic sealed comfort zone. I continue to challenge and despise the shame with my dedication to stories and story-telling, my willingness to rise above the gossip and silliness that threatens to weigh me down. Only Jesus helps me do that. I do still stumble tightly, as tight as the hamstrings near my thighs. I am imperfect. That’s why I need Jesus.
In the Greatest Showman, Loren Allred sang about when you feel that a goal you’ve attained is enough for you.
When something threatens to weigh you down, and all you can think is, I am more than what this is!
I have a few friends that have “set of a dream in me”, and I can’t help but share it. What happens when the moment of attainment is not enough, when no one around understand what you’ve experienced to DO something that wasn’t your will, but the spirit of God coursing through you.
All the shame I’ve disliked in 30-something years, won’t be enough for me to let go of the faith that God brought me back from a near-death experience to build me in something uniquely my own, an instrument “more than a thousand sunsets.”
So I mourn. I mourn for a mountain of shameful moments, but I remain ever so encouraged, understanding that I can’t show mercy to my exploiters without realizing that Christ already won the battle I’ll go through. Just as Jesus died in shame, not appreciating it one little bit, he became the comfort that people are looking for in the strife of worldly pleasures. I am ashamed of people, but I am never ashamed of faith, hope, love, and the power of Christ.