This fall I will have two kids in college. Yikes! So I have been spending lots of my off days from work searching for scholarships and helping my son Isaac complete the grueling application processes for them. There are thousands of scholarships with every requirement imaginable: a scholarship for kids who are 6’2″ or taller, a scholarship for kids who are 4’10” or shorter, a scholarship for kids who are left-handed, a scholarship for kids who are a twin, a scholarship for kids with the last name of Zolp… I checked scholarships for Pepsi, my husband’s employer: none for this area. I checked scholarships for ministry, my profession: only for kids going into ministry or for certain denominations. I thought of every affiliation we have and searched for scholarships related to them. And then… I stumbled upon one that fit Isaac perfectly.
“Isaac, we can win this one!” I exclaimed. “It’s for children of parents with disabilities.”
“You’re not disabled, Mom,” Isaac replied.
“I know, but it says parents don’t have to consider themselves disabled,” I explained. “This organization, ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ is doing research and just wants to hear life stories. So they’re giving away sixteen $1000 scholarships!”
“Ok. What do I have to do?” Isaac asked, not too thrilled at the prospect of another application.
“Write an essay about how growing up with me has affected your life,” I answered. I smiled goofy and Isaac rolled his eyes.
I jumped into action and took care of the required reference, high school transcripts, and activity resume. Isaac sat down at his Mac and began to type…
To me, having a parent with a disability has never been an issue. Growing up and seeing my mother do incredible things without an arm has always seemed to be the norm for me and my family. Seeing my mother accomplish more than everyday tasks without so much as a doubt in her mind has made me aware that a disability has as much power as one gives it.
When I was about six, my mother, being a children’s minister, was teaching the children at church about disabilities. She asked the group what they thought her disability was. At the time I was in the same group as the other children and couldn’t understand what she had that was considered a disability. The only thing that came to my mind was that she had some gray hairs. I raised my hand and said so. My mother laughed. I knew that my mother had only one arm, but I never considered that a disability.
As I thought when I was six, I still believe today. People are only disabled if they let something like that rule their lives. Having a mother with a “disability” has shown me how to apply this to my own life. I don’t judge others by what appears to be their capacity of capability. In a way, I have almost been numbed to others’ disabilities, almost being unaware of them. For instance, one day a friend and I were walking through town. My friend pointed out a man running. I noticed him running, too, but my thoughts went to him being crazy for running in the summer heat. My friend’s thoughts, however, went to his two prosthetic running legs. I had not even noticed that. This is just one example of how growing up with my mother has affected my views on people and disabilities and their capabilities.
I also feel my mother has taught me to have joy for all that we are given in life and to cherish what we have. I can’t begin to describe the unnatural peace and joy that illuminates from my mother. She has really shown me that to have joy doesn’t always mean everything in life is going your way. Life is always going to find a way to get you down, one way or another. Joy is that feeling that keeps you getting up when life pushes you down. Joy is being grateful for the little things in life.
Having a mother who is strong and has never given in to her disability has forever influenced me. It has taught me to look at life in a different way and from a different perspective. I have grown up knowing that I could do anything with what I have and that I should be happy with what I have been given. I shall always be thankful for the lessons that I have been blessed with by my mother.
I think Isaac should win this scholarship, don’t you? I’ll let you know if the scholarship committee agrees when the winners are announced in September.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
*Writer’s Note: In November Isaac received a letter from “Through the Looking Glass” notifying him that he was not among those selected to receive the scholarship. They awarded 16 scholarships from nearly 700 applicants. Congrats to the winners!