In recent days, I’ve been reminiscing about elements of my childhood. Life was so much simpler then. Well, at least through the eyes of a child.
Among the big stresses of my life were homework and getting to my sports activities on time. But it is equally true that difficulties from our childhood can accompany us into adulthood if we choose to carry it along with us. Sometimes, it’s not so much a conscious choice to bring it along, but the absence of a deliberate choice to leave it behind.
As a 5 year old boy, I began developing Vitiligo. As a little Mexican kid with beautiful dark skin, it was a pretty obvious change happening to my young body (as seen in this picture, during my First Communion). I had no idea what was going on, but I could recognize that I was “different” from everyone else. Long before I was a Christian, I remember crying to God and asking why He made me different. Yes, there were people in the world with bigger issues than mine, but this was big to me. And it only got bigger.
Being different can be cool, but you know how kids can be. I had classmates refer to me as a “leper” well into my teens. I even had a teacher of mine in high school refer to me, in front of the entire class, as a zebra.
God’s ways are interesting in that He took this guy who grew up being so afraid to be seen and ridiculed, and put him in a ministry in which he stands before crowds of tens, hundreds, thousands, and even on television where you couldn’t help but look at him.
I am so grateful to God that He blessed me with talents and a heart which have given me an identity beyond what distinguished me from others as a child. The bible is loaded with people who were flawed, and yet they rose above them to do great things. Moses was a stutterer, yet he stood before the most powerful men in the world with boldness from God, and liberated an entire race of slaves and guided them to the Promised Land.
God sees our shortcomings as opportunities for His glory to be revealed.
On occasion, in certain circumstances, I still have to beat back the instinctive urge to hide or be afraid of rejection. In 99.9% of the situations in my life, it’s a total non-issue. But every now and then, a situation comes up which is just new and different enough to throw me off my game. God has been so good as to put people in my life who have been an extension of His grace and love to me. God has also given me a true heart for life’s underdogs. I always seem to gravitate toward people, particularly children, who are passed up by the mainstream. Those hidden gems within them which just need to be brought to the surface with some time and attention.
I thank God that He used Vitiligo to give me a heart for those who feel insecure and even ridiculed. He has blessed my heart so much by giving me relationships and favor of those who suffer from one affliction or another. They have told me how I’ve touched their lives, or the lives of their children…but I really think I’m the one who got the best of it.