This has been on my mind since I felt like I was a freak at BSF on Tuesday. I was very aware of being viewed first and foremost as someone with a disability. There was no denying people viewed me as ‘special’.
When I am with my friends and especially family, I honestly forget I have cerebral palsy. Heck, even at 3 years old, when I asked Manda (my niece) if she wanted to know why I talk funny, she said, “You don’t talk funny… you talk like my Aunt Shelly!” (I love that kid!!). My relatives deny anything is wrong with me. Last year in Michigan, my cousin picked me up from the airport and it was snowing. I asked Renee if I could hold her arm so I wouldn’t slip in the ice and she kept walking ahead of me, “Shelly, quit goofing off… C’mon, we’re suppose to go ice skating with the family!” She wasn’t kidding… neither was I!
Yet I regularly encounter people who see me as a poor, pitiful, cripple. Once, the hostess at Olive Garden tapped Michele on the shoulder as we were leaving, pointed at me and said, “Thank you for taking her out…” Michele responded, “What? No.. SHE drove! She’s one of my best friends!”
When Amanda and I go out, I tease her by saying people probably think she’s doing a “Wednesday’s Child” episode or charity work when she – a news reporter – is seen with me – a disabled woman. Amanda doesn’t see me as disabled. In fact, I once told her I ran up and down the football stadium bleachers for exercise and she believed me!
Cerebral palsy is just another way God is teaching me humility… I never forget that the friendships I have, where my CP is not an issue, comes from God. I know it isn’t because I am so charming, beautiful, and witty that people like me; it’s because He has changed their hearts so that they see me for me… like Shallow Hal. Imagine how the world would be if we only saw one another’s inner beauty instead of physical attributes…
"I see your beauty"