Years ago in college, I had a professor who changed the course of my entire life.
I was 18 years old, and I wanted so much to be a marine biologist.
The problem was that I didn’t want to do the actual work of getting an education, I just really wanted to move to the coast and play with dolphins.
My chemistry professor caught onto that very quickly. Hence, he was a complete ass to me. He talked down to me. He publicly humiliated me. He told me that my attitude sucked and that I didn’t have what it takes to survive in his class.
I heard his words inside my head every time I closed my eyes. (Why is the bad stuff so much easier to believe?) And even though I had a hundred other cheerleaders telling me I could do it…that I was smart, and talented, and wonderful….I let the words of that professor annihilate me.
And I eventually left the university because of him.
I felt like a nothing. It broke my spirit. And my parent’s hearts.
That experience turned me into a wanderer. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I chose travel. And music. And I loved that life, because it allowed me to have commitment issues. I traveled the world for years, working in missions, working with young kids and teens, and singing in coffeehouses to survive.
And looking back, those are some of the best experiences of my life.
Years later, after Zion was born and diagnosed with autism, I had expert after expert tell me that Zion would likely never speak. Or graduate from high school. Or be able to care for himself.
When I heard those words, I immediately time-warped back to the 90’s, and suddenly I was that humiliated 18 year-old college student again. And it killed my spirit.
But this time something different happened.
After living like that for a while, I realized that I didn’t have to.
And it fueled a fire that caused something within me to stand up and scream, WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT!
And thus begins the story of my little man turning his weak and scared mama into a Mama Bear Fighter.
I decided I didn’t want to live off of food stamps and Medicaid and broken dreams.
I decided I didn’t want my child to be miserable and stuck inside himself.
I decided I didn’t want to be told what I could and couldn’t do.
So I got up off my arse, and I changed my life. I changed my hours from part-time to full-time in the ER, and from nights to days. I took Zion out of special education in public school, off of medication, and enrolled him in ABA therapy. I homeschooled him in the evenings.
A few years later, I left the ER and transferred to a bariatric clinic in the network. That’s when I met Betsy and Crystal, two women who saw great potential in me and have mentored me ever since. I have worked hard there, coordinating the office and working like I make 6 figures. (Even though I don’t.)
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call about a job opportunity. I interviewed. They called back. I interviewed again.
They hired me.
I’ve been promoted to Operations Supervisor in the Indianapolis east region. I start next Monday.
It is quiet in the house this morning.
It is also friggin cold. I forgot to switch the furnace on last night, so it is a whopping 63 degrees in here.
So as I sit here being warmed by the light of my computer screen, and a cup of steaming hazelnut coffee, I am listening to the quiet chatter of my 11 year-old autistic son.
Zoë is still asleep, and will be for several hours. And my Zion is sitting on the floor next to me, with a sea of papers strewn out in front of him. The papers contain 12 bible verses he copied from his favorite Veggie Tales movies.
He reads them aloud, in his quietest voice:
Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. – Proverbs 19:2
Love each other as brothers and sisters, and honor others more than you do yourself. -Romans 12:10
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. -Hebrews 6:15
This precious little child, who some said would never read, write, or speak, is doing all three.
And to my college professor: you were right. My attitude did suck. It doesn’t anymore. Thank you so much for making me a fighter.