When I went to China, I got to meet some of Phil’s students. Oh, I guess I should tell you that was the reason we got to go on such an amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip; Phil was invited to teach at Liaoning Normal University in Dalian, China. While we were there, I got to visit his Venue Management class and meet his students.
Phil had told them I was blind and they were curious and asked lots of the usual questions like, “How do you ___?”(fill in the blank). There are a million “How do you do___? ” kinds of questions when you’re blind, but one young woman’s question totally blew me away — it was very revealing.
In broken, but very good English, she asked: “When you became blind, were you afraid people would be ashamed of you or your family would not love you?”
Talk about a surprising question! I have never been asked any question like that before, but I understood why she asked it.
The traditional Chinese term for disability is “canfei,” which means “handicap” and “useless,” or “canji,” which means “handicap” and “illness.” They also use the term “canji ren” to signify “handicapped” and “sick people.”
In many areas of China a disability is seen as punishment – either for the disabled person or their parents’ past life sins. In other words, blindness is something to be ashamed of. The stigma attached to a handicap was why the girl asked such a question. When she thought of blindness, she thought of shame, disgrace, uselessness and rejection.
I explained to her that blindness was not something to be ashamed of. I told her my family would never stop loving me for any reason, especially for something that I could not control or change — like blindness. She listened intently, and I felt she was listening for more than just an answer. I sensed she was hoping to hear what her heart longed to — dared to — believe was true…
Acceptance can know no limit.
Shame doesn’t have to stick like a label.
Identity doesn’t depend on performance.
We didn’t speak the same language. We didn’t live in similar cultures, but we were searching for the same things. Our heart’s cry is the same… the cry of every human who has ever and will ever live:
Am I lovable no matter what?
Will you accept me even if…?
Is who I am good enough?
Am I still valuable if I am not “useful? “
The questions may be complicated and layered, but the answer is singular and simple — yes.
Through the ages the voice of God says “Yes.” Yes.
Yes, high achiever, you are lovable, no matter what.
Yes, university student, you are acceptable, even if you fail.
Yes, stay-at-home mom, who you are is good enough.
Yes, business professional, you are still valuable even if you are not “useful.”
Yes, physically challenged, your identity isn’t based on what you can or can’t do.
Yes… God’s love for you is unconditional. Yes… God’s acceptance is without limit. Yes… God covers you with love; He doesn’t condemn you with shame. He gives you identity based on who He is, not on what you do.
Yes… God labels you son or daughter, and no matter what, you are His.
If you ask Jesus how much He loves you, He opens His hands as wide as the cross and says, “This much.”
Whatever you fear today, lay it down at the cross. Let it fade under the shadow of God’s love for you.
Let his voice of love be the loudest one you hear today.
I have loved you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
What shame or rejection or fear or lie do you need to leave at the foot of the cross today? Write it in the comments and then let God’s voice of love be loudest.
P.S. If you need to hear God’s voice of truth loudest — or if you know a woman or teen girl who does — my Me, Myself, & Lies book can give you practical tools.