Forever Grateful to be Different
Writer Author Karla Hogan
- Fiction No
I remember, as a child, wondering why people thought I was so different. I loved to do the same things, eat the same things, and push boundaries just like any other little kid. It wasn’t until early in elementary school when I realized that outwardly, I really was different from my peers.
I was born with a rare facial muscle deficiency called Moebius Syndrome. The biggest obstacles to me seemed to be that my lips didn’t close together and my eyes didn’t move back and forth like almost everyone else’s did. Outside of that, I was fine…I thought. I’d worked at mastering straws in my drinks, and as far as eye movement, I’d never known anything different. As the questions and teasing started in school, however, I felt for the first time, deep down in my heart of hearts, the ache of loneliness. No one else was “like” me, and the people around me thought I was something to stare and laugh at.
It’s not easy to explain to friends and others something that even the doctors can’t really explain! But at a young age I became aware, at whatever level a small child can, that what other people thought of me did not make me who I was. I have an older sister, Kim, and a younger brother, Sherman, neither of who were born with Moebius, but who were affected by it just the same.
Thank God we had wonderful parents who loved us unconditionally, and home was a very safe place to be. Mom and Dad introduced us early on to God and His love for us, bringing me to my first encounter with Jesus. As a 6th grader, one Sunday morning during worship service, I went to the front during the invitation, asking Jesus into my heart and life. Little did I know what a wonderful, challenging, life-changing journey that I had begun!
I lived for many years after my salvation learning countless life lessons and trying my best to lead a good Christian life. Then about three years ago I was in the midst of a Bible study at church and I realized something was missing…not in the study, but in my life. I am married to a fantastic man, Greg, and have two beautiful daughters, Kellie and Keri, yet something was incomplete. In the following weeks, as we continued on in the study, I was shocked by what became a clear picture in the eyes of my heart…I knew about God, I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I didn’t KNOW Him! Wow, what a powerful discovery!! I’d lived over 30 years as a Christian woman, but was about to experience what God had intended for me — not just “life,” but Abundant Life!!!
I began to pray that God would give me the desire to truly know Him. I heard it said once that we should “want to want Him”. As I continued to pray for that and develop some discipline in having quiet times, I found myself falling in love with Jesus!! That was something I hadn’t ever really experienced. I had always loved Him and was grateful for His love and salvation…but IN LOVE? I knew what it was like to be in love with Greg, but had never gone deep enough in my relationship with Christ to discover that you can’t help but fall in love with Him when you know Him intimately.
In Philippians 3:10, Paul writes, “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him.” I took that as my own personal goal and determined purpose as well. I asked myself how we usually get to know someone. The answer seemed obvious — spend time together. So I decided to apply the same principle to my relationship with Christ.
Over the past few years I have spent many wonderful hours alone with Jesus. I have learned first-hand that He loves me more than anyone else could! I can now say that I’m living the chorus of the hymn, “In The Garden” — “The joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
Hand in hand with knowing God and spending time with Him came reading the Bible, and observing and consciously trying to mirror His character. I also began to daily confess the sin in my life, things that would lessen the sweetness of this newly deepening relationship. He truly is faithful and just in forgiving those sins. (I John 1:9), and the slate is clean each and every time I ask for forgiveness!
As I’ve spent time in His presence, reading the Bible and in prayer, I’ve realized that to KNOW Him is to LOVE Him!!! I stand in awe of who He is and how He is taking this body and soul and using it for His glory!! As I look back at my childhood, and the realization that outwardly I was different, I look at my present and my future and am proud and forever grateful that inwardly I’m different!
In the course of my life, many people have asked me to share my testimony. I find that most are looking to hear about the Moebius and how it has affected my life, which obviously it has. My true testimony, however, is that God took this lump of clay, with Moebius Syndrome, and continues to mold a life that lives and breathes for Christ!! To Him be the glory!!!
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