I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when I was 3 years old, but my parents didn’t tell me about it till I was 11. At the time I was scared to tell people about it because I didn’t know how they would react, and it was easy to hide it. I didn’t even tell my best friend until about 6 months later.
For most of my teen years I received the Christian teen girl magazine Brio, and when it arrived each month I would read it from cover to cover. Some of my favorite articles were the ones about girls with disabilities or medical problems that they were able to overcome, I always found them so inspirational. One of those stories had a major impact on my life.
Nann Chaftin has alopecia areata, an auto-immune disease that causes your body to think you’re allergic to your own hair. As a result she has very little hair on her head, and was teased about it for years. She started wearing wigs to hide the condition and much of her youth group didn’t know she had the condition. After her interview with Brio she came home and for the first time took off her wig in front of her whole youth group, and it was a freeing experience for her.
I remember reading Nann’s story a few years after my parents’ revelation and at the time honestly not thinking that much about it. About a month later for whatever reason I picked it up again, read the story, and that’s when it changed my life. I saw so many parallels between our stories, and God told me that I was supposed to tell my youth group my story too.
It took a little while for me to work up the courage to talk to my Youth Pastor but I eventually did, and we set up a time for me to share my story. I remember how nervous I was, I had been involved in drama for years and never had any problems being in front of an audience, but this time I was Very nervous. I shared my story and the reception was very accepting and kind.
It was a couple more years before I had the courage to share my story in setting like that again but I no longer tried to hide or deny my disability. Over the past few years especially I have become more and more open about it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it here today!
I know none of this would have happened if it were not for Nann! Ok it might have happened eventually but never that soon and I know I would not be as open as I am now if I had not read her story at that point in my life. I think of her every time I share my story.
Day 48: Thank you Lord for Nann Chaftin, and her story. Thank you for the impact it’s had on my life, and may it continue to impact others.
What are you thankful for today? Leave a Comment and let me know, I’d love to read it!