As a person living with a disability challenge is a part of my life. I was born with a split in my spine that affects my overall ability to walk. I had several surgeries been in a wheelchair and crutches that I currently use for mobility. As I continue to walk with the Lord, I realize that I am not my disability and my condition does not determine my position. I haven’t always seen my challenges through the lens of purpose. I was bullied as a child. After school I would go straight to my room shut the door behind me and cry alone. It’s a terrible experience being bullied. Although I knew my mom loved me, I felt I couldn’t possibly share with her what I endured daily at school. Not only did I have to deal with the ridicule from being bullied due to my own disability but my mom being deaf posed another challenge in that my classmates made fun of her through mimicking her whenever she came to my school. Being physically different than everyone else and the effects of being bullied affected my self-esteem that resulted in low self-esteem, depression and social isolation. There are many factors to this social exclusion. This disability has limited me from a lot of activities such as sports, extensive walking, the ability to go to crowded places and anything that involves pushing and standing for a long period of time. Throughout my life I worried about whether I had the ability to thrive socially and personally, but more than that I viewed my disability as a negative characteristic about myself which resulted in me believing that other people viewed me in the same way. As I grew older, through middle and high school my peers were more accepting, but I became known as “the girl on the crutches”. Growing up I was called crippled, handicapped and many other descriptive terms that still sting to this day. I cringe when I hear the words handicap and cripple because to me it sounds disempowering. Some people feel they have a right to label others and that’s what the kids at my school did to me then and unfortunately some people try to do to me now. I want people to see me before seeing my crutches. Although I know my crutches aren’t invisible, I see them, and I know that other people see them however I don’t allow them to describe me nor do they define me. It bothers me when people marvel at me saying that I must be “brave” just because I am out shopping on my own or because I can drive a car. I find this very patronizing. One of the things I have always found highly offensive is when people would ask me what my disability is. To me it’s intrusive. If I want, you to know I will tell you. In school, I was always afraid of being called on, even when I knew the right answers. My heart would pound, and I just wanted to hide. I have struggled with my identity and how I viewed myself but now I am overcoming these obstacles. The key to overcoming insecurities and obstacles is knowing who you are in Christ. I know what it is like to feel disempowered. I know what it is like to feel overlooked. I know what it is like to feel like an outcast. The beautiful thing is that God can take what is broken and transform it into a beautiful masterpiece. It is my hope and prayer that you are challenged, empowered, strengthen and encouraged to see yourself the way God sees you and to walk in everything He has purposed you to walk through….