Last week we heard from Justin as he explored how he faces the challenges of his disability. Living with such significant limitations is more than daunting, but he has proved how life can be lived fully regardless of one’s struggles. Something powerful happens when individuals overcome seemingly impossible odds. Others benefit from their example. Today we hear from Patrick regarding how Justin, and others, helped shape his perspective on life. Thank you again to Elizabeth for sharing her and James story, inspiring these blog posts.
There are a host of individuals who have helped shape how I live my life. My parents taught me how to love, taught me right from wrong, and introduced me to my faith. Friends and mentors have helped shape that faith and my wife has loved me in spite of who I am, giving me a glimpse of the unconditional love God has for me. Every person I know, every person who is a part of my life possesses strength, wisdom, and resiliency that I look to as a guide for living life. Justin’s choice to live a full life, in spite of his limitations, has had a profound affect on many, including myself.
Since embarking on The Camino, we’ve had countless individuals reach out, telling us about the adventures they are on even though they live life with one leg, have a debilitating disease or live life from a wheelchair. And often those stories point to a strength emboldened by the choices of people like Justin. A mentality that declares, “I will not be defined by my limitations!”
The other day, Justin and I were talking about how each person has a responsibility to those around them. We all have the opportunity to profoundly affect each relationship we are a part of, for better or worse. Who we are is contagious! We need to make sure we’re worth catching!
When people like Justin willingly embrace the difficult life they have been given and choose to focus on what they can do as opposed to what they can’t, when they embrace what they do have as opposed to what is missing, and welcome the helping hands of others; they become a catalyst for a new way of thinking. Who they are becomes a gift as they bring a new perspective to all they encounter. A perspective that paints a vivid picture of the beauty experienced within humility and vulnerability. A perspective that drives home this message: there is just as much beauty in receiving as there is in giving. A perspective providing me the strength to face each challenge of life… if my best friend, who can’t use his arms and legs, can find joy in life, surely I can do the same.
Everyday we have the opportunity to bring heaven or hell to earth through whom we choose to be. When individuals embrace life, regardless of their limitations or struggles, when they love and let others love them, when they let others carry their burdens, heaven intersects with earth. We get a glimpse of what community should be. In those moments, the love God calls us to can flourish.
Who you are is contagious! Make sure you’re worth catching!