OTHERS

Life with CP: Learning Who I am Through God in My first Year Away

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Desiree Ferguson

Living a life with Cerebral Palsy

Hello!  If you are reading this, I want you to know that you are loved beyond all measure and that God has a wonderful plan for you!  I have been trying to write this for six months, but lately if I’m not on the go, then I am trying to catch a few hours of sleep! 

There is something that has been on my heart lately. I was a little nervous about sharing this, but my hope is that you will consider what I have to say!   I am going into my second year in my study of Children’s Ministry at Ozark Christian College! Although this is a “typical” part of the journey for individuals my age, some would say that my journey is a little different. I have Spastic Quad Cerebral Palsy caused by a birth injury. So, in addition to keeping up with school, this weird concept of sleep, and volunteer hours, I also manage a life of doctor’s appointments, procedures, surgeries, and the nature of dealing with a spastic body. But, what if these things that I live with aren’t so different?  What if these conversations don’t have to be awkward?  

Aside from my call to Children’s Ministry, I have also felt lead since a young child to advocate for and share the Gospel with individuals with disabilities.  A few months ago, I was honored to share part of my testimony with some of my classmates and I was surprised by what was laid on my heart as I spoke.  For years I have been speaking with groups of people on what it is like to live with Cerebral Palsy and the importance of individual’s rights.  But, I think what I have failed to do is share WHY I tell my story and life with a disability. I feel that it is time to give these moments of sharing a deeper meaning and clarity by answering the question: why?  

I believe that every person is given something big that the enemy could easily use to tear us down, but if we allow God to take control He will use it for His plan to glorify Him. This struggle is something that is unique to each person as part of their story and it cannot be compared to anyone else’s. For some it’s grief, or an addiction, finances, loneliness, confidence, self-harm, or a disability. This struggle is used for us to help others and even bring people together. Individuals who have dealt with a great amount of grief help others and prepare them as they walk through a tough time. Before this struggle was shown to be an outlet, the struggling person had to lean on others.  

My struggle was chosen to be my disability, but this is something that less people know about, so I advocate. My struggle is important and relevant in society just like everyone’s. Just as someone sharing about grief reaches out to others apart from those currently grieving to help all people; I also reach past the special needs community to help make a way for those discovering their talents through their valley. Through this gift I am able to share the strength and love of God. It’s not that this thing is different, it is just what God is using in my life and I am called to use and talk about it.    

My friends often ask me how I handle everything. I try to express that what I am going through is no different than what they walk through, it is just unique to me.  They may not be able to understand how I walk through my situation just as I can’t understand how they are walking through theirs because the two were not meant to be cross examined. However, we are able to support one other through listening and tending to their needs. Our struggle was given to us for our unique purpose.  

So, as I advocate I am sharing my unique struggle to share God’s glory in the way I am supposed to. It is not something out of the ordinary or different, its just mine. Whatever your struggle is, I hope that you use it as a talent for God’s glory. I hope that you know whatever you are going through is valid and that you find someone to walk through it with.  I hope that you know that God has a perfect plan for you! So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27  (Joseph says to his brothers after they had betrayed and mistreated him.)  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20  

This year I have learned to let others in when my talent is a valley.  I am learning to embrace who I am and when I explain to others they embrace me for me. They embrace me for the talents God has given and the great love that beams off of me as an individual, not the struggle that the world tried to name me as. This year I have learned that I am walking with a struggle that is used for a talent, just like everyone else is and that’s pretty amazing. (The ladies in my dorm hall celebrated me and surrounded me with love by wearing green on World Cerebral Palsy Day in October).  Pictured below are some of the girls on my floor taking a picture with me.  This is a great example of the power of God's plan and how it brings people together!)

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