Something rather bizarre happened to me after word slowly seeped out that my childhood epilepsy had returned: I received all sorts of questions, feedback, website suggestions, secondhand medical advice, dietary suggestions, recommendations, and opinions — all centered on or around the topic of seizures. Suddenly, everyone from my friends and family members to the cashier at the local Walmart was an expert on partial-complex epileptic seizures. Everything in my world was — and, in many ways, still is — related to seizures. I essentially live every hour of every day of my life around the possibility of having a seizure; always conscious of what and how I am eating; always burdened and annoyed by the fact that I’m unable to drive; always wondering if my sleep patterns or anxiety side effects will trigger a seizure; always questioning my future career and life plans.
In fact, whenever I leave the house, I wear a medical ID bracelet that bears my name, neurological condition, and important emergency contact information. It’s sort of like an advertisement announcing my disability. I admit I’ve often considered having a custom T-shirt made that reads, “Hi, my name is Josh, and I might act weird or fall over at any point.” Maybe it would go viral and start a trend in seizure swag.
After two neurologists, a neuropsychologist, several medications, prescriptions, and Essential Oils, I managed to encounter some fellow epilepsy fighters who were struggling with similar, and even worse, seizures and accompanying side effects. A common theme I saw in these folks was that much of what they posted to social media, or discussed when they saw me at a restaurant or local venue, was strictly about their condition.
I suppose it’s only natural that human beings indeed initially discuss their commonalities. “Hey! How’s it going? When was your last episode? I had one the other day. How did your appointment go? How’s your eating been? Is the new medicine working? Are you sleeping better?” These questions and topics become the norm after a while. But, for crying out loud, is there nothing better upon which we can converse? I would happily choose discussing the weather over chatting about the last time I chewed up my tongue. And, please note, I say that as someone who utterly detests mundane conversations concerning the weather.
Now, just to clarify, I’m certainly not suggesting there’s anything wrong with finding camaraderie and friendship among folks who are enduring similar struggles. In fact, I think it can be healthy within the proper context and framework. But, what I do not recommend is finding one’s sense of identity and self-worth in anything or anyone other than Christ.
Our deranged culture has so successfully hijacked and mutilated the concept of “identity” that the average American — even the average Christian — no longer understands the meaning of the word. Progressive society would have us believe that anyone can identify as anything and we must all accept it as true and then affirm it as reality, lest we be in danger of bigotry, insensitivity, or offending that particular individual. But, this is total nonsense and utter lunacy.
For believers, our identity is in Christ and Christ alone, as we belong to Him because we were purchased by His blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It would be an insult to our Savior — a slap in His face — to reject such a gift and seek identity elsewhere. It’s really that simple. We are not defined or identified by the handicaps that plague us; we are identified as children of God. (1 John 3:1). The same God whose hands hurled the first stars and planets into the cosmos carefully formed you while you were still in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-14). He carefully crafted and created you exactly the way you are for a precise reason, plan, and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11), handicaps and all.
And, since you are not equal to or defined by your handicaps, you are not limited by them — at least not in the spiritual sense. There may be certain physical, mental, or emotional limitations. That is to be expected. But, in God’s sovereignty and boundless grace, and through your identity in Him, you have limitless possibilities within His will for your life.
Embrace your identity in Him. Then embrace the possibilities for the future.