Differently-Abled


I love this quote: "Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed."



Of course, some of us don't look different. We simply are different. We deal with invisible barriers, invisible illnesses, which strike us with exhaustion, anxiety, or extreme mood and energy shifts. Our loved ones know these invisible illnesses: They live with them every day. But to the outside world, we look normal. "Nothing's wrong with you." "Get a grip." "Just stay positive."

Well, if you are depressed, "just staying positive" is impossible. It goes against biology.

But it also is true that you can be different, be uncertain, start late and still succeed, as this quote says.

Bipolar is sometimes called a disability, but I like to think of myself as "differently-abled." Yes, I am "different" but I also am quite capable. More than that, I am strong. As my five-week foray into kickboxing is showing me, I am powerful. I am capable of going into a gym, week after week, and throwing punches and kicks in a punishing workout.

I also am capable of going to work and being a trusted member of the team. My coworkers and boss depend on me. I show up to work on-time, day in and day out. I contribute new ideas and bring my skills to the table. In fact, I am learning new skills at work. It is satisfying.

Bipolar sometimes rears its head. I remain impulsive. Sometimes, I don't see the larger picture. I have difficulty waiting on God, for his time and his ways. I read once that people with bipolar are more impulsive than average even when not manic. I can attest to this.

But slowly, like water wearing away stone, waiting for God is changing me. I am learning to put away short-term benefit for long-term gain. Maybe this is the best part of being "differently-abled." Yes, I still struggle with impulsiveness, but I am capable of changing, of learning to be patient. God is a great teacher, and I turn my learning over to him."Wait upon the LORD and renew your strength." "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Bits and pieces of verses stay with me and help me.

I will always carry my illness with me until, at last, I lay it down. But in the meantime, I can know myself to be capable, to be strong, to be able: "Differently-abled." Yes, I am different, but different is beautiful. We are all different in our own ways, each unique, each beloved. My different is like and apart from your different: We are all in this together, and yet we each are walking our own paths. That is where empathy and listening come into play.

I hope to be a good listener. I hope to love on other people. Love is "to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves," wrote Jean Vanier. That kind of love comes from being truly present with each other -- and with God.

I am different, uncertain, starting late... and yet I can still be present with loved ones and with God. I can still succeed.

I am differently-abled.

      

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