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Gifts Come in all Shapes and Sizes

If this happens to be the very first blog post you’ve read of mine - welcome! Get ready for some stories, sarcasm and occasional deep thoughts - hope you enjoy ;)

If you’ve already read some of my other posts or followed my Instagram account at all (@onelegtostandon), you already know that I’ve been missing my right leg since birth. I’m almost 26 years old - that’s a long time to adjust to how people respond to my prosthesis. I’ve heard pretty much everything under the sun and almost nothing shocks me anymore. I’ve legitimately been asked if my prothesis has a secret gun compartment (multiple times actually - and not as a joke), and someone once asked me if the knee includes a cell phone charging port. One little girl at a public pool even convinced herself that I was a mermaid, and refused to believe me when I told her otherwise.

All of that to say, I had an interesting conversation with someone this week that actually made me pause for a moment (in a positive way). To be honest, I’m so used to explaining my prosthesis to people that those conversations don’t usually make me think twice, but I’ve been thinking about this particular conversation ever since. A few days ago I was talking to Jarrod Houston over at Title Boxing Nashville and we were sharing about crazy life experiences. (Sorry if y’all are tired of hearing me post and blog about boxing at Title, but I love it and it’s literally been life-changing so I probably won’t stop anytime soon…) If you’ve ever met Jarrod, you know that he exudes both confidence and a love for people. He’s also not afraid to speak about His faith and life journey, and his genuine honesty is incredibly motivating. At one point in the conversation, he casually nodded towards my prosthetic leg and said something like, “And the way that you use your gift…” and continued on like he said nothing out of the ordinary.

Now, a comment like that may not catch everyone’s attention, but it sure caught mine - it was the way he worded the phrase “your gift.” It wasn’t even a question. I’m so used to hearing people say things like “You USE your prosthesis AS a gift,” or most often someone talks about my limb deficiency as an “obstacle you overcome.” And you know, I don’t think their wrong - I’m never offended when people say those things; if anything I appreciate their encouragement and am SUPER humbled if they say I inspire them in some way. But if I’m being straight with you, I absolutely love the way that Jarrod phrased that sentence. He probably didn’t think twice about it, but it made me realize that he doesn’t see my leg as a handicap; he views it as a gift.

And you know what? He’s right. I know that may sound odd to say, but having a prosthesis has truly been a gift in a lot of ways. For one, it’s strengthened me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It’s presented me with a lot of decisions to make which often lead me to choose a harder route, and I’ve come out stronger because of it. It’s also given me a really unique perspective - most of the people I hang out with don’t have a physical “handicap” (goodness I hate that word), and they never make my leg a big deal. Because of that I don’t define myself as “the girl with one leg” (outside of an occasional joke). I’m just a girl, and I happen to have one leg. At the same time, I tend to be a bit more sensitive to people that struggle with self-confidence, body image or trust issues, because I’ve been there - I still struggle with those things sometimes. (Not saying I’m always great with sensitivity, but it has helped.) Having a prosthesis has even given me a “platform” in a way. I think people are more willing to listen to what I have to say, or are at least less likely to get offended when I push them or speak some pretty hard truths, simply because they respect the fact that I may actually understand where they’re coming from.

Most importantly, being born with one leg has made me rely on my personal faith in Jesus. I believe He created me this way for a purpose. It wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t any sort of punishment, and it doesn’t mean He loves me any more or less than the next person. I’m not here to preach or to force anyone to believe what I do, but my faith in Jesus literally shapes everything about me, so it would be careless not to mention that in this post.

I hope none of that came out as arrogance. I also don’t mean to diminish the struggle of physical adversities. I think it goes without saying that it has its challenges, and I’d be straight up lying if I told you having one leg never bothered me. But sometimes, we look too much at the negatives of the hands we’ve been dealt in life. We see struggles, especially physical ones, as something to overcome rather than to embrace. Reality is, I get to live life through a lens that most people will never get to see through. I have the opportunity to learn about a world that not a lot of people know about, and I get to share some pretty cool stories as a result.

So next time you’re thinking about a challenge you face often, physical or otherwise, maybe try to shift your thinking a bit. It WILL be difficult, and it will NOT always feel good. But eventually it will make life way more rewarding - suddenly your problems aren’t so inward focused; they turn into a means to deepen relationships with other people, and they have potential to form you into a stronger, more mature person.

And that, dear people, really is a gift. Thanks Jarrod for reminding me of that.