I was at the hospital for yet another appointment and procedure in hopes that doctors could determine the culprit of recent medical issues. Quite frankly, I was anxious and ready for this needle biopsy to be over. The young female doctor with long dark hair and an elegant posture turned the corner and entered the small hospital bay. She smiled warmly at me and said enthusiastically,
“You must be a ballerina!”
We had never met prior to this encounter and she was completely unaware of my medical history. I was taken aback and not sure how to respond and wasn’t sure I even heard her correctly.
“I’m sorry…what?” I was still trying to process what she said. The doctor proceeded to say,
“You must be a ballerina! Your toes are on perfect point!”
I then realized WHY she said what she said, and I cringed at the thought of correcting her and explaining the posture of my feet, because I knew she was going to be embarrassed. You see, prior to the doctor’s entrance into the bay, her nurse had wheeled me in using a wheelchair and assisted me into the hospital bed for the medical procedure. The nurse then put the wheelchair in another room so that it would be out of the way and she put my canes on top of it as well. Due to the fact that my legs are completely paralyzed and I wear AFOs, whenever I lay down or recline, my legs relax and both feet turn outward. So, when this sweet doctor saw me laying on the hospital bed with a sheet draped over my legs both feet could be seen at the end of the bed, turned outward.
One of the things I have learned about my disability is that it provides numerous opportunities for me to share my story. God again provided the opportunity. I took a deep breath, knowing that I needed to share my story.
“No ma’am. Actually, I’m paralyzed. My feet turn out like that because I have a disability. I was hit by a drunk driver when I was 14 years old and I have been a partial paraplegic since.”
As I expected, the beautiful young doctor was embarrassed, not expecting my response and for a moment, she was at a loss for words. After a few seconds, she quietly said,
“I’m so sorry.”
I proceeded to share my testimony with her.
“Please don’t be sorry. I’m a Christian and God has used my disability to make me the woman I am today and God has done a mighty work in my life through my circumstances.”
I invited the young doctor to visit my website and told her about my book, Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity. She wrote the title down and said she hoped to get it. Turns out, she’s a believer too.
This encounter serves as a reminder that we all tend to make assumptions about others. Part of our human design includes a processing of information gathered through our senses in order to make sense of a situation or determine an appropriate response. This causes me to consider, what kind of assumptions do I want people to make about me? I cannot get around the fact that I have a disability, but what I do choose is JOY in how I respond to my disability. I can relate to the admonition of the prophet Nehemiah when he writes, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). My prayer is that a joy will radiate from me, causing people to wonder how I can be happy in the midst of my circumstances…which is a physically broken body. I can have joy in spite of my circumstances because I have HOPE that my circumstances are temporary in light of eternity. As a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I have a home and perfect body to look forward to forever. The body I reside in now is broken physically and is going to deteriorate due to the presence of sin in this world. This actually is true for everyone, after all for humanity, there is a 100% mortality rate. The human body is limited and temporary. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Billy Graham states, “For the believer there is hope beyond the grave because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.”
So, in summary, my TOES may not be able to be 'on point,' but if assumptions are going to be made about me-which they will be-this is my GOAL: in what I say, in what I do, in how I live…I want to POINT people to the One who has changed my life and POINT them to One who can also transform theirs.