Life is fraught with limitations. Every man, woman, and child faces challenges. Sickness, injury, depression, loss of life, financial struggle, etc. These challenges limit our ability to move forward in life, they limit our ability to grow... if we let them.
There are a host of individuals who have shaped how I live my life. My parents taught me how to love, taught me right from wrong, and introduced me to my faith. Friends and mentors have helped shape that faith and my wife has loved me in spite of who I am. Every person I know, every person who is a part of my life possesses strength, wisdom, and resiliency that I look to as a guide for living life. My best friend Justin Skeesuck has made the choice to live a full life, despite the limitations of a progressive neuromuscular disease. His perspective has had a profound effect on many, myself included.
Since embarking on The Camino four years ago, Justin and I have had countless individuals reach out, telling us about the adventures they are on even though they live life with one leg, have a debilitating disease or live life from a wheelchair. And often those stories point to a strength emboldened by the choices of people like Justin. A mentality that declares, “I will not be defined by my limitations!”
The other day, Justin and I were talking about how each person has a responsibility to those around them. We all have the opportunity to profoundly affect each relationship we are a part of, for better or worse. Who we are is contagious! We need to make sure we’re worth catching!
When people like Justin willingly embrace the difficult life they have been given and choose to focus on what they can do as opposed to what they can’t, when they embrace what they do have as opposed to what is missing and welcome the helping hands of others; they become a catalyst for a new way of thinking. Who they are is a gift to others as they bring a new perspective to all they encounter. A perspective that paints a vivid picture of the beauty experienced within humility and vulnerability. A perspective that drives home this message: there is just as much beauty in receiving as there is in giving. A perspective providing others with the strength to face each challenge of life… if my best friend, who can’t use his arms and legs, can find joy in life, surely I can do the same.
Every day we have the opportunity to bring heaven or hell to earth through whom we choose to be. When individuals embrace life, regardless of their limitations or struggles, when they love and let others love them, when they let others carry their burdens, heaven intersects with earth. We get a glimpse of what community should be. In those moments, real love can flourish.