The following article is an excerpt from the book entitled The New ABC’s of Life for Children and Adults: Short Stories, Essays, and Poems Promoting Christian Concepts (Orgeron, 2016, pp. 62-69).
Psalm 41:1 (NKJV) – “God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.”
Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC, Author
“Will you be able to walk? I hope you don’t end up having to use a cane or something.” This remark from a visiting deacon angered me as I lay in a hospital bed in 1988 following a fall down a flight of stairs that left me with a crushed left ankle.
What’s wrong with walking with a cane? I thought as I heard this stranger’s words. I wish he would leave.
June 26, 1988—that day my life changed forever. The above picture was taken during a visit from my parents not long after doctors had performed my first surgery July 6, 1988. During my first surgery a bone graph from my hip was performed and metal inserted to rebuild my ankle. Doctors removed the metal in a second surgery November 1989.
“You might not walk again,” Michael L. Reid, MD, orthopedic surgeon, said. “If you do walk, you might have a limp.”
After Dr. Reid left my hospital room, I lay alone. These people don’t know me. I’ll walk again. Even if I don’t walk again, I know life isn’t over, I thought as I remembered Dr. Hoback’s story.
Dr. John H. Hoback, professor of chemistry, lectures to a class in the Science Building Auditorium.
Photo by Maria Dawson Broomes
Reprinted with permission from The Parthenon April 16, 1982 Marshall University.
“You wouldn’t be worth two cents as a ditch digger, but with education the sky is the limit.”
This was what a physician said to Dr. John H. Hoback whom I interviewed about his being the senior faculty member at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia in 1982. Dr. Hoback had been a victim of polio at the age of six.
When I first walked into Dr. Hoback’s office without any forewarning of his physical limitations, I hesitated asking him about teaching from a wheelchair. Now years later only after experiencing an accident myself that could have left me in a wheelchair permanently, can I fully appreciate my meeting Dr. Hoback.
“Many people look at their weaknesses and get depressed. What they should do is find their strengths and develop them,” Dr. Hoback said.
“They tell me I’m a cripple,” said David Ring, born with cerebral palsy. “I’m a cripple; but, the Bible tells me I’m more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”
“What’s wrong with cerebral palsy?” David asks congregations with whom he shares his story of how God brought him from an insecure, grieving crippled boy to become a nationally known evangelist with a wife and four healthy children. “The Bible says I was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. And God never says OOPS,” David preaches. “They tell me it’s a disability. It’s a handicap. Baloney! Baloney! Baloney!”
“We often throw away broken things and underestimate God’s power. But God uses broken people,” David preaches. “When I am weak, then I am strong. They told me I’d never ride a bicycle, never drive a car, never finish college, never be a preacher, never make it into evangelism, never find a wife and would never father a child.” David gives praise to God for having accomplished what in mankind’s eyes would be impossible. “All I can say is to God be the glory. Great things He has done!”
“I’ve got cerebral palsy. What’s your problem?” David Ring proclaims to congregations whenever he shares his testimony. David faced cerebral palsy’s effects, the death of his parents at a young age and constant ridicule and discouragement from classmates and relatives. His story inspired me in 1989 when I was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.
Why God? Why can’t I live life like those around me whom I consider normal, or healthy? I thought. Then I remembered something David Ring said:
“You know people come up to me and say ‘Brother Dave, don’t you want to be normal?’ And I look at them. I say, ‘What’s normal?'” For more about David’s life, please see his website: www.davidring.org
Before meeting Dr. Hoback and David Ring, the life of my grandmother inspired me to achieve.
“Can’t never could do anything,” I remember my grandmother Earl S. Owens said. “Whenever a person says they can’t, it usually means that person isn’t willing to try.”
No, my grandmother never had a newspaper article published about her nor did she ever make national television; but she left a legacy of perseverance and hope, regardless of the circumstances. This came from her stories of living through The Great Depression as a wife and mother; and, later, facing the consequences of being left a widow at a younger age than she or anyone else in her family then would have dreamed, or expected.
“He’s my best friend,” Mama said many times as we lay across her brown metal, queen-sized bed talking about God. “He’ll be yours also.” She was right. Now Jesus Christ is my greatest encouragement, comforter and counselor with my favorite Scripture II Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
By one definition, a handicap is a disadvantage. Reasoning from that perspective, any individual might wear the label “handicapped”. If you disagree with this point, ask yourself: Do I know anyone who has an advantage over me in any area–more money, better physical health, stronger family support, etc.? We are all disadvantaged in one way at one point in time in comparison to another person.
Do disadvantages discourage you? Do you have negative circumstances you feel hinder you? Then look to the positive. Find your positive attributes. Build a dream based on your strengths.
Daily I am encouraged as I read these inspirational words on a magnet I keep on my refrigerator door: “Don’t ever give up your dreams . . . and never leave them behind. Find them; make them yours, and all through your life, cherish them, and never let them go.” Remembering, though, that dreams may change as one faces new challenges or obstacles in life. The key is in how we respond to new challenges or obstacles.
As a former pastor of mine, Dr. Jerry Sutton, former senior minister of Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, said to me in a counseling session, “When we face problems or obstacles in life, they either make us bitter or better. You make the choice.”
Orgeron (aka, Owens), P. K. (2016). The New ABC’s of Life for Children and Adults: Short Stories, Essays, and Poems Promoting Christian Concepts. Nashville, TN: ABC’s Ministries. Available for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-K.-Orgeron/e/B01AAUI6AK