This summer I’ve gotten the chance to know Victoria Adams, a senior religion major at Baylor University who is interning with the youth ministry at our church. She recently shared a message with our middle school group about how God can meet us in our place of weakness and remind us that we are His beloved children. That resonated with me, too, so I’ve asked her to guest blog this week with her story.
I was born deaf.
Not the “she hears me sometimes then ignores me others” type deaf but fully and completely without hearing. My parents found this out by cupping their hands and yelling at me while I was sleeping as a baby.
I would not flinch.
Through doctors’ visits and surgeries I gained a degree of hearing. My eardrums formed and by kindergarten were starting to accept sound waves but never to the fullest extent. However, I still lived a somewhat normal life. Though I still needed to read lips and watch a person’s body language to fully understand them, for the most part people were surprised to find out I am hard of hearing. Because of this I never really experienced a sense of failure or of not meeting normal standards. Because people did not recognize my disability, I seldom mentioned it.
Then, I attended college.
I am a senior at Baylor University (Sic ‘em!), and in order to graduate, I need 4 foreign language credits. When I originally learned of this, I knew that it was going to be a bit of a challenge. Being hard of hearing I have difficulty pronouncing certain words in English—I’m told that when I say stethoscope, it sounds like sethoscope, monster sounds like munster, and the word blueberry I try to avoid all together.
So I knew I’d be at a disadvantage when trying to learn another language, especially when trying to speak the words. Knowing this, then, I decided to take Ancient Greek. I knew the class had a focus on reading and writing the language rather than speaking it. I wanted a challenge and being a religion major I wanted something that would enhance my knowledge in my major.
The first day of class arrived, and I was cautious but excited about learning. As I walked into class I took a seat near the front, knowing that I needed to listen intently. About 10 minutes into the lecture I realized that to fully master the class, some speaking would be required. My teacher had only been telling us how to pronounce certain words for a few minutes when he pointed at me and commanded me to repeat the word he had written on the board. He was one of those teachers who thought it was helpful to call you out when you pronounce a word wrong and make you stand in front of class until you pronounce the word right. So, after he commanded me to recite this word for what felt like hours (it was really only 5 minutes), he tried to coach me in how to pronounce house in Greek.
I never did pronounce it correctly and was absolutely mortified.
Yes, I did know that if I had told my teacher about my disability, he would have given me accommodations, but to do that would be, in my mind at the time, a show of weakness. I wanted to be normal, at least as normal as I could be. I wanted to ignore my disability. I wanted to be able to do it on my own strength, my own effort without any special help. So I decided to stick with the class instead of drop it, and it only got worse. I got behind in my studies because I was trying so hard to figure out how to pronounce the first day’s material that I could not move onto anything else. After the first few classes, a failing quiz grade, and a teacher who called me out on my pronunciations multiple times, I finally realized that I could not physically succeed in the class.
With this realization a mountain of shame, doubting and self-hatred started to form. The day I realized I had failed, I walked to my car completely crushed. I got into my car, pointed the wheels towards home, and with every inch I drove, my self-hatred began to intensify. For the first time in my life I did not feel like I could hide my disability.
With this exposure I began to question God, began to curse God for making me this way. I hit a low point coming home looking at myself in the mirror and seeing all the flaws that I usually ignore or accept. I started questioning every decision I had made, every friendship I had. Because I saw one shortcoming, the foundation of self-confidence I had put everything on began to crumble. It was like building a house of cards: one hit, one blow, and everything came down.
I wanted it all to go away. I needed to be somewhere so I decided to push all of the corrupting feelings down and leave my house. When I turned to lock the door, I saw a little package of clothing I had ordered a few days earlier. This sent me into another spiral of self-hatred. I was telling myself things like I was so materialistic, I was so dirty in the eyes of everyone, I was so unworthy, I was so stupid. I took this package in and threw it on my bed.
Immediately after, I heard a voice in my head to open the package (not an “am I crazy” voice, but an intense sense of God talking to my spirit). I refused. Again I heard, Open the package. I refused. Then, as I started moving toward the door, I heard, Open the package. Try on the clothes. Reluctantly I gave in. I moved toward the package and opened it; there were three shirts inside. The first shirt was a white and gray stripped short-sleeved hoodie. I put it on and looked in the mirror. As I looked in the mirror I heard so clearly, “You are a Child of Mine. You are beautiful. I made you perfect. You are Holy.” Then, I tried on the next shirt, a green and white striped one. As I looked into the mirror I heard, “You are a Child of Mine. You are loved. You are Holy.” The third and final shirt I tried on was light blue. As I looked in the mirror I heard for the final time, “You are a Child of Mine. You are loved. You are perfectly made.”
I immediately broke down in tears. I knew that voice was God, I knew the pain and hatred I felt were lies, and I started to repent for believing them. I turned back to God for my foundation and begged for forgiveness for allowing the enticing lies in. I then dropped Greek, and I eventually moved into a modified foreign language credit that is paced for people who need accommodations. I have accepted my disability, not hiding it anymore, but embracing the way that God has formed me.
God reminded me in a time of self-doubt and hatred that I was His child, that I was beautiful, and that He and only He makes me Holy. When I fall short, He is there. When I try to leave Him, He is there. When I physically cannot do it on my own, He is there to provide me help. When I doubt myself, my God, and my future, He is there to remind me of His love.
He knows you, too.
He has formed you.
He sees you.
We can look to Him for the confidence that so often is hard to maintain. It was not until I was reminded that I was a Child of God, that He alone is my rock and my foundation, that I could turn away from focusing on my shortcomings and start to focus on the gift of life that God has given me.