“The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity” – Jackie Robinson
I understand the sentiment behind the words “you are an inspiration.” I have had many people tell me this throughout my life. I know that oftentimes these words are spoken out of sincerity. I can appreciate this. However, being called an “inspiration” is something that I have not, nor will I ever accept as a compliment. For you see, these words make me feel less than human. Having a physical disability does make me different, however, it does not make me any less human.
These feelings are ones that I have struggled with for a very long time. Many times I have asked God why he created me with a physical disability. There have even been instances where I have been furious with Him for placing me into a body that doesn’t work the way that it should. It is frustrating to deal with these limitations. I can honestly say I still question God as to why He chose me to live a life locked inside a body that is far from perfect.
One answer that He has given me along the way comes from a passage of Scripture. In verse three of the ninth chapter of John, Jesus heals a man that was born blind. His disciples then question Him as to why the man had been born blind. Jesus answers them by saying it was so the “works of God might be displayed” in this man’s life (John 9:3, New International Version). Perhaps, I too was born with a disability so that the works of God could be seen through me. God has blessed me with many things and for that I am thankful. In spite of my challenges I have a good life.
In conclusion, I feel as if people look to me as an inspiration for doing things that come naturally to any able-bodied person. Sure, there are things that are more difficult for me to do, however, I have learned to adapt to my surroundings. I should not be looked upon as an inspiration for doing what what is mundane. People are not given gold medals for taking out the trash, going to work, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, or shoveling snow. My life is not heroic and I do not expect any accolades for living it. I am just Ryan, an often surly, 41 year old man who appreciates the things that he has been given.