By Catherine Odom
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13, ESV
I think there are moments in our lives that define who we are – moments that have shaped us into who we are today. Those moments can either make or break us. I would like to share a defining moment in my life, one that could have easily broken me, but that I instead chose to help make me who I am.
When my mom was expecting, she was told she was carrying twins. Sadly, my twin died in utero which caused me to have a stroke. The stroke effected the right side of my body and my speech. The right side of my body has always been weaker and I stutter. This resulted in the need for me to participate in physical and occupational therapies for seven years.
Growing up, It was easy for me to notice that I was a little different than others my age. Things like tying my shoes, opening chip bags, or even fixing my hair were tasks that were a little difficult for me. I always asked myself, “Why me? Why am I not like my friends?” My mom always reassured me that God made everyone unique and special. I remember her writing me encouraging notes of affirmation. She even painted Philippians 4:13 on my bedroom wall as a daily reminder that I could do anything with God’s help. I think that’s something of which we all need reminding from time to time. Whatever we’re facing, whatever we go through- we can do ALL because of the strength God gives us.
Fast forward to the summer before my senior year of college, I was given the opportunity to do an internship with Joni and Friends, a ministry that operates on the mission of training and mentoring young people with disabilities to use their gifts for the Lord. The organization was founded and is led by Joni Eareckson Tada, who lives with a disability herself.
All of my life up to this point I had struggled with how God had made me. However, my internship with JAF really helped me realize that my disabilities were not a hindrance, but something that I could use to help others. Watching Joni, who had been paralyzed from a young age, have such poise and grace was so touching to me. This woman had every right to question “Why me?”, but yet she uses her situation to help and to encourage many people around the world. This experience made me realize that I’ve been able to reach more people because of my experiences living with a disability.
My disabilities no longer make me feel like I’m incapable of doing things. Instead, I know that I have a God-ordained purpose that includes serving and encouraging others because of my disabilities.
Friend, God always has a plan for what you go through. I never would have thought a girl that stutters would be a teacher, and a teacher of English and Speech, at that, but that’s exactly what God has called me to do. Never let your limitations hold you back from fulfilling God’s calling for your life.
I don’t know what moments have defined or changed your life, but I do know God already had a plan for those moments even before they happened. God orchestrated your life with beauty and purpose; do not let those defining moments make you bitter. Instead, let them work and be used for His glory and purpose. You never know who you can help because of your struggles and experiences. You’re so unique and your story is so important because it’s part of His divine plan for your precious life.
Thank you for letting me share a piece of my heart and story with you. I’m grateful for how God has brought beauty and goodness out of a defining moment in my life that many would find tragic, but that I know was designed to offer hope.
Catherine Odom is the author of her very own blog, Cat’s Corner, and teaches English, Journalism, and Speech to her high school students at Rockwell Christian School. She is a native of Eastern North Carolina, a graduate of Pensacola Christian College, and a member of First Baptist Church of Rockwell where she faithfully serves alongside her brand new husband, Anthony. Catherine has a passion for writing and loves sharing her heart through her own blog and this week as a guest blogger on Bumbling Beauty.
Check out Catherine’s blog at http://www.catscorner.video.blog where she offers encouragement on faith, marriage, education, living with a disability, and more!