Crippled by Joy
The questions were unending: Was my affliction—contracting polio at the age of three—the result of the sins of my parents? Must I forever feel inferior? Does my life not have purpose? Where will I find true love?
The unchangeable circumstances of my fate suffocated me. How unfair that my parents—who suffered from my illness as much as I did—were often blamed. After the high fever that left their lively little girl (who loved to dance) unable to walk, my mother carried me on her back. One stormy day when Mother was carrying me on her bicycle to see the doctor, we accidentally fell into a trench. Huddled together under the heavy rain, we held each other and cried.
Whenever I saw my friends running and jumping about, my heart was filled with envy. Looking at myself—always being carried around by my mother—I felt very self-conscious and ashamed. I wanted to hide myself from view.
Later on, I started using a wooden stool to teach myself how to walk again, one step at a time. By the time I was in fourth grade, I could hobble around on my own, using crutches and a leg brace. But, as such, I became a source of derision by others; I was laughed at and called a “cripple.” The brace often rubbed blisters and scrapes on my leg that would not heal. Once, at school, I burned my knee by accidentally spilling hot water on myself. Not only did my teacher fail to comfort me, he scolded me for not knowing my physical limits. Yet despite these injuries and persecutions, the most intolerable aspect of my predicament was that I could not walk freely; I could only limp slowly, one foot at a time.
Participating in outdoor activities was always out of the question for me. So I focused my attention on subjects like literature, calligraphy, painting, and crafts. I eventually graduated from a night vocational school, and a Christian classmate encouraged me to apply to an art college. I passed the entrance exam, but found that I had to study very hard. My classmates seemed to be so much more skilled than I. Many of them had had private tutors and training since they were young. I, however, was self-taught and didn’t have the foundation the others had, so making the grade was always a worry for me.
At this point in my life, I began to read the Bible, searching for some answers. When I read John, chapter 9, verses 1-3, I discovered that Jesus’ disciples had once asked Him the question, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus explained, “neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” This verse shed light on one of my questions! Perhaps, through being a cripple, the work of God could be displayed in my life. I immediately prayed, “God, if you really exist, please enter my heart and guide me.”
Soon, a Christian teacher who specialized in calligraphy and engraving introduced me to church. On Christmas Eve, the words from a missionary speaker touched my heart: “Are you the missing sheep from the flock of one hundred? If so, our Heavenly Father is waiting for you. If you are feeling sick and tired of life, return home! Friend, Jesus loves you.”
At that moment, the Holy Spirit moved me to repent and reform. I had entered art school in search of truth, goodness, and beauty, but now I knew that Jesus was the ultimate truth, goodness, and beauty! All of my pent-up self-pity, pride, grief, and pain were washed away with my tears. I joyfully accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Everything became new. I left behind my inferiority complex and helplessness. With Jesus Christ as my support, I strove to become courageous and strong. And God seemed to give a double portion of blessing for every one of my imperfections. My heart was filled with gratitude and praise!
As I have experienced the love and acceptance of God, I have been led out of negativity and darkness into the heavenly kingdom that is bright and filled with hope. I no longer fear being ridiculed by others. I see myself as God sees me—a beautiful, broken vessel who brings glory to Him. To God be the glory!