From the moment I was born, my mom looked at me as a child first, and then only after that, as a child with a disability. In my younger years, I remember doing physiotherapy: It was painful for my muscles and I complained a lot. However, that didn’t stop my mother from pushing me to do my exercises. I’m grateful for her persistence, because most people with cerebral palsy have to recline in their wheelchairs, but I am able to sit up straight. It really is a miracle! So my mother has not only physically formed my body, but more importantly, her influence has formed who I am as a person.
When I started school, she fought for the education system to give me a chance to prove that I could do a regular program, even with cerebral palsy. My mom sometimes needed as well to challenge even my own way of thinking about my abilities. There were some days where I found school so hard, I just wanted to quit! However, she encouraged me to keep at it even though I didn’t always like it. This has given me perseverance in my character. For example, I remember hating math homework, especially algebra. She got frustrated with me and let my personal support worker deal with me! But throughout my education, she was always there to lend me a hand if I really needed her.
Despite the challenge of having less natural patience than my dad or me, my mom still takes the time to listen to what I or other people have to say and then to encourage them. This has inspired me to mentor others who live with the same disability, and to also educate people about cerebral palsy by giving short presentations at my former elementary school. So my mom’s willingness to slow down and simply be there has given me the confidence to also slow down and be there for others.
My mother is usually the one to step up to the plate and get things done. Although some days I worry about her doing too much, she likes to help people and her family. Along with helping out with my personal needs, she helps with my dad’s business. Sometimes I don’t understand how she keeps going. This makes me determined to “reach for the stars’’ and never give up. My mother also inspires me to help others and be compassionate toward others.
I’m more independent now than when I was little, but I still need my mom for advice. Even though my dad tries to help, my brother and I usually go to Mom for answers. Not saying that my dad doesn’t have his place. Even he goes to Mom for answers. This inspires me to be the kind of person that people want to come for help to find the answers, especially if I ever have a family of my own.
I admire her faith in God. She always tells me not to fear, but to trust him. Oh, I’m sure she has fears and uncertainties of her own, but she never lets on. It is love from her and from God that has given me the confidence to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. This has challenged me to study God’s Word for myself and grow in my own faith. She reminds me of a woman described in Proverbs 31:30 (ESV). “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’’
As you can see, I think she is a great mom. Even when there are bags underneath her eyes, she’s always there to lend a helping hand. I would like to have her servant’s heart and her zing for life. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if she wasn’t determined to raise me to become the woman that God intended me to be, a woman like her.
What about you? Who are you? Which people in your life have inspired you?
[Editor’s Note: This article belongs to our series on “What forms us?” Of course, it’s ultimately God who shapes us toward Christ-likeness. But we hope these reflections encourage awareness and inspire intentionality in how we live. For more articles in this series, click the #whatformsus tag.]
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About the Author
She also gives some of her time mentoring a high school student who lives with the same disability. Olivia enjoys giving presentations to her former elementary school educating students about disabilities and how to treat people with disabilities. In her spare time she reads, sings, travels, swims and spends time with family and friends.