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Baylee’s Story (Cerebral Palsy, Optic Nerve Atrophy)

Baylees-story-cerebral-palsyLet’s face it. Life is hard. It is full of uncertainty, difficulty, discomfort, adversity, and sorrows.

Sometimes daily events are too much to handle. People get tired, focus on failures, consume themselves with negativity, and are too anxious to function properly. Some internalize their struggles, pretend that they do not exist, and struggle through each day wondering what challenges, obstacles, and pains are in store.

Let me be honest with you… I was that girl for a very long time.

At birth, I had a stroke. As a result of this, I was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Atrophy and Cerebral Palsy.

Today, I have no peripheral vision, decreased depth perception, and lower visual field loss. For most of my childhood, and into my teenage years, I was anxious to attempt new things, terrified of failure, scared to succeed, apprehensive about learning, unwilling to grow, and hesitant to step out of my comfort zone. Up until recently, a life of comfort has been my strategy. I did not appreciate a struggle. I did not enjoy situations where thinking abstractly was required. I was not particularly comfortable with being disabled.

To be completely and totally open and honest with you, I hated it. My disabilities broke my heart for a little while. I felt like Cerebral Palsy and a visual impairment would always define me, limit me, and keep me from success. I thought that my sphere of influence was diminished, that I would never make a positive impact, and that I would be unable to live a life of independence and freedom.

Now, I know that to be false, as I am currently a college student, and am in the midst of pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.

Recently, I have come to a monumental realization about my circumstances. This new thought has shaped my perception of my situation, changed my attitude, humbled me, and made me view my disabilities in a new light.

It has taken me years to realize that my disabilities do not disable me at all. They enable me to see the world from a unique lens- one that I am eternally grateful for. As strange as it may sound, I view having Cerebral Palsy and a visual impairment as my biggest blessing. I truly believe that the dark times are necessary for one to find the light. It is through my struggles that I have found strength. Because of my disabilities, I have found an unshakable faith in God, a desire to help others and love them well, and a courage within myself that I did not know existed.

I have learned the importance of honoring God in all things, putting others before myself, and using my pain for a purpose. The Bible says it best in 2 Corinthians when it says, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

So, thank you, Jesus. Thank you, for my struggles and my fear, my pain and for my tears. Thank you for my disabilities.

And, to anyone who is enduring a struggle today, I will say this. Hard times are temporary. God is eternal. You do not have to trust in your struggle. But, you can trust that the struggles will give way to peace eventually – even if it takes a while. In the meantime, you can choose joy. Hold on, take a deep breath, and center yourself. Find encouragement, love, support, and peace. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid to encounter difficulties. Fight your battle well. Live your life in such a way that you bring the light into this dark, crazy, and twisted world.

You are stronger than you know. Make it your mission to find that strength within yourself. Remember that you may not be able to control your situation, the ways of the world, or your struggles, but you can control how you react to these things. Choose to be kind to yourself. Find the joy in all things. Life is a gift- don’t take it for granted!

Baylee
Texas
Submitted 06/18/2018

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