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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Do You Need Daily Encouragement?

I have a confession to make. Fear has prevented me from promoting my new book the way I wanted to. 

Writing is hard. Writing personal stories from the very depths of the heart is even harder. But sharing those vulnerable moments is down right grueling. 

I hate the vulnerability of sharing my thoughts, heartaches, and trials with others. It makes me feel like the girl who shoved her hands in her pockets and was so afraid to be herself. And so I have allowed the fear to silence me. In doing that my heart breaks for the failure of not serving the Lord and allowing the devil to steal my dreams. 

So today I want to be brave. 

God gives me so many beautiful thoughts. He leads me and guides me and helps me to overcome every hardship that I encounter. Each time I go through a trial with my Lord, I come out of it a different person. Stronger, wiser, more compassionate, and I have more understanding of the person I want to become and how to better serve Him. 

And I realize it is so selfish of me to not share those moments. 

We all have struggles, fear, faults and failures. It is impossible to go through life without challenges, trials, and tests. But it is possible to overcome every hardships, and then use those experiences to help others.

That’s what Despite Your Circumstances is all about. My life was challenged. God pushed me to the very edge of my strength and ability and then showed me how to become stronger and develop a warrior mind-set. At one point my body was defeated, my spirit was broken, and my mind was challenged. I will never forget that feeling. I felt so alone and afraid. No one knew what was happening to me, and I feared the worst. All I wanted was for someone to tell me so badly that it would be okay. And then show me how to overcome my victim mind-set.

Once my mind-set transformed from victim to overcomer, I was able to fight back. During the most difficult time in my life, I realized I am far stronger than I ever imagined. Strength does not come from accomplishing what we believe possible, but rather from accomplishing that which we originally believed was impossible. 

God has blessed me so greatly, and I want to show my appreciation by sharing my knowledge with others. Since my theme word for 2015 is GIVE, I want to give you an entire month of encouragement. I have created an online Facebook event for this purpose. Each day I will post something encouraging in the event and I would truly love it if you would do the same. We can help each other. And develop the right mind-set to make 2016 our best year yet. 

Because I am stepping out in faith, I don’t have it all planned out, but I trust God to help me, so I can help you. 

Asking for help is one of the hardest things for me to do. But without your help, I can’t accomplish my dreams. 

Will you please buy my book and help me make this book successful? And consider buying one for a friend also? I wrote it with prayers, tears, and God’s guiding hand. I truly owe all the credit to Him. Please join me for my first ever online event (it’s free) and invite your family and friends to join us as well. Together we can learn how to live well—despite our circumstances. 

About Despite Your Circumstances
Despite Your Circumstances shows us the power of the mind as it embraces a positive and thankful attitude, and demonstrates how to build a rich life filled with meaning and joy. The author uses seemingly impossible situations in her life to prove that you can be an overcomer despite your circumstances.

A sample chapter and options to buy the book is available here. You can also buy an autographed copy by emailing me at 

What others had to say:

"With raw vulnerability, Candida brings us into her world of physical and psychological hardships.  She shows us how she, with the help and strong faith in God, transcends her limitations and goes for the possibilities.  Despite Your Circumstances shows us the power of the mind as it embraces an attitude of positivity and gratitude and shows us how we can build a rich life filled with meaning and joy beyond our challenging circumstances."
Harriet Cabelly, Social Worker & Life Coach at Rebuild Life Now

"Candida's book Despite Your Circumstances beautifully illustrates the human struggle to overcome circumstances beyond our control. The transformative power of God's love and radical acceptance leap off the pages."
Jason Kishpaugh, LPC-MHSP, Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor

"I love how this book encourages us all to defeat the negative thoughts and change them to positive, God thoughts.  This is a true lesson on how to transform your perspective on life circumstances."
Beth Stewart, founder of Triumphant Living radio ministry, CEO of Beth Stewart Ministries, and author of Dreams NEVER Expire

"This book will forever change your perspective by showing you how to shift your thinking to live a positive victorious life empowered by God. It will challenge you to rise above circumstances and remind you that as you think, so shall it be."
Terri Meredith, Terri Meredith Ministries

Hope to see you there, 

Candida Sullivan

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Do We Compare Ourselves to Others?

We’ve all done it at some point. Someone does something that we would like to do, or they have something we would like to have, and right away we start comparing our life to theirs. The unfair part about comparison is our unwillingness to recognize the struggles that led to the victory. 

Victory doesn’t come without hard work, determination, and sacrifice of some kind. 

Most of the time, though, we are not willing to put in the work to achieve the goal. We want the victory, but not the hardships that come prior. Success, wisdom, and knowledge all come with a price. 

How many times have we all said these things?

  • I could never do _____.
  • I wish I could do _____.
  • I wish my life was _____. 
  • I can’t _______.
  • I will never be  ____.

We compare our life and what we feel on the inside to what someone else manifests on the outside. The lens of perfectionism appeals to us all, but it doesn’t exist. No life is perfect. No career is perfect. No marriage is perfect. No child is perfect. No one is perfect. 


The first time I went to the gym, I compared my first day to others who were there working out—who had been doing it for a long time. I watched  them and was envious of their strength and stamina. In doing that I discouraged myself. It didn’t take me long to realize that the only person I need to compare myself to is the person I was yesterday. 

To compare myself to an author who has been writing for 20 years is unfair. We are each on a journey. And we are all on different phases of that journey. It is fine to be inspired by someone, but to be jealous of someone else’s success is detrimental to my own success.

When I was first married, I couldn’t understand why my husband didn't look at me the way my grandparents looked at each other. It made me question the strength of my marriage. Then one day I realized that it takes years of struggles, heartaches, and time to get to the level of love they shared. Love grows over time, and I just needed to give my marriage time to grow and prosper. 

If we only share our victories with others then we prevent them from seeing the beauty of the struggle. People need to see our hardships, and how we overcome them. And we need to realize that whether or not someone shares their trials, does not change the fact that they still went through them. 

So often people comment that they admire my strength and wish they could be more like me. Having an easy life, however, did not develop my strength. It comes from crawling through the trenches with my Lord. 

When we compare ourselves to others we take away from our uniqueness, and are distracted from our own journey. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Just be you! And be the absolute best possible version of yourself. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

God has a plan for your life. Embrace it. And enjoy the journey. 

May God bless you, 


Monday, November 9, 2015

Why You Should Develop the Attitude of Gratitude

Do you feel gratitude in the depths of your heart and soul? Or is it something you merely say? 

It’s so easy to go through life, quickly moving from one moment to the next, without really thinking about each moment. We have what we need, and a great deal of what we want, and never stop to think about where it all comes from or to be truly grateful. 

Lots of times we develop the entitled mind-set, instead one of gratitude.

We expect to be happy, wealthy, and wise and get angry with God when it doesn’t work out, as we had envisioned. 

I remember the days when I struggled to walk. It was so hard for me to get out of bed, and even harder to walk through my house. I can honestly say that I didn't appreciate my ability to walk, until it was challenged. It was the same way with my speech. When I could barely get the words out of my mouth, I became so thankful for each one. Lying in bed for months gave me some time to think about my life. 

I soon realized that I could develop the attitude of gratitude or self-pity, but I could not have both. We can praise God or complain, but we cannot do both. 

Every morning when I woke up, right away my mind started searching for things and moments of gratitude. As my list grew, so did my ability to see my life through the lens of thankfulness. I had less to complain about because I was so focused on my blessings. And when I started digging deeper into my blessings, the more aware I became of God mercy’s and love for me. 

My perspective on many situations and circumstances changed. Especially when I really focused on my blessing. It’s one thing to be blessed, and another to realized the magnitude of those blessings. 

Imagine giving to someone constantly, but never receiving any type of thankfulness from that person. How would it make you feel? God wants us to recognize and celebrate the goodness in our life. He doesn’t like it when we complain endlessly, and only focus on the bad. 

Developing and nurturing the attitude of gratitude will help us to break the complaining cycle. 

We often complain, without even realizing that we are complaining. It's a habit that we need to become more aware of and break. (I’m still trying to break this habit.)Focusing on the bad is a recipe for disaster. The more we embrace bad thoughts, the more bad thoughts we have. The same is true for positive thoughts. Everyday we have a choice. We get to decide which ones we will nurture and which ones to dismiss. 

According to Dr. Robert Emmon's, people who are practice the attitude of gratitude are happier than those who don’t. Check out his article 10 Ways to Become More Grateful

Once this scar was so devastating to me. People often stare at it and even tell me to remove the rubber band from my arm before it hurts me. For many years, I tried to pray this scar away without realizing the blessing it symbolizes. The band threatened to take away my arm, but God spared it.  Now I am so grateful for this scar. It reminds me daily of His love and mercy for me. 

So what are you waiting for? Start practicing gratefulness today and allow it to change your life.  

Have a wonderful Monday!

May God bless you, 

Monday, November 2, 2015

How to Purposely Enjoy Today

Are you always worrying? Do you constantly wish your life away? Is hard for you to stay focused on today?

I know. I’ve been there, too.

For me, living with a debilitating condition is fearful. I never know the challenges each day will bring. When my alarm sounds, I don’t know if pain will greet me. And the mere thought that it will join me during some part of my day is overwhelming.

Some people comment on my strength. And assume that I get through each day with a smile and complete acceptance of my situation. The truth is, every day I have to overcome my situation—again, and again.

So what does that mean?

God only gives me enough strength for one day. While I would love to totally crush my hardships and be done with them, they are reoccurring. Pain is not something that we can totally accept and embrace. We want rid of it. It breaks us down; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As it weakens my body and depletes my strength, I wish it wasn’t so hard. Many times I have placed my face in the floor and begged God to take it away. I’ve lain on tables while doctors and therapists worked on me and begged Him for the strength to endure the pain. When I realized the hardships would never completely go away, I asked Him to help me overcome it. And while He does, it is a daily battle.

And sometimes the battle is devastating.

Some days, it takes me forever to pick out my clothes. Due to my pelvis, I can’t wear certain pants. Depending on my balance and foot pain, it’s hard for me to wear various shoes. And the option to curl my hair or not, depends on my shoulders. Driving hurts. Writing hurts. Using a computer hurts. Sitting hurts. Standing hurts. And some days, my friends, it hurts to breathe.

When I think about a lifetime of enduring this, I’m overwhelmed.

But I have many years of experience in overcoming it. God has never left me alone. He has never said, “Make it if you can.” He has never abandoned me and left me to endure it on my own. While I would love for Him to give me enough strength to conquer it, it doesn’t work that way. He gives me just enough to get over the hardships of the moment.

Today, He blesses me with what I need. Today, He reassures my broken heart and encourages me. Today, He teaches me how to become an overcomer.

We cannot worry about tomorrow, or the next hardship. We have to live in the moment and blessing of today. If I’m living in the past or the future, I’m denying myself the beauty and wonder of today.

My success rate for getting through trials with God is 100%. He always helps me to be victorious. Pain brings me closer to God because I need Him every single moment of each day. In order to overcome my hardships, I have to trust Him with my life.

So how do I live in today?

1.    Be present in the moment.
Don’t wish your life away, but learn to live in the moment. Spend your time wisely and do something each day that matters. Purposely do something that will revive and nourish your soul.

2.    Be grateful for each day.
Every day is a gift and that is how we should treat it. We need to embrace each day with a grateful heart, and count our blessings. Search endlessly for things to be thankful for.

3.    Live, laugh, love.
So often we go through the motions of life, and neglect to really live. We need to give each day, everything we have to give. Don’t leave anything for tomorrow. God always gives us more. Go to bed exhausted and empty. And if our tomorrow doesn’t come, we can delight in the fact that we lived our last day well.

Every day God helps me through my trials, and He will help you, too. Be present, joyful and purposely have a wonderful day!

 May God bless you, 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

How to Overcome Hardships

We all struggle. In essence, our tribulations mold our character. Each one teaches us something beneficial to our life. My trials have taught me to be kind, compassionate, understanding, and helped me to develop strength and patience. They have also helped me to build a better relationship with God.

1.      Whenever I’m going through a hardship, I ask myself this question. What is the purpose of this trial? What is it teaching me?
Once I develop the mind-set that my situation, even though it’s difficult, has a purpose I’m more accepting of it. In order to learn the lesson, so to speak, my mind and heart must be open to it. This is difficult and usually takes me some time to be accepting of it. This also enables me to grow during the process.

2.      Ask God to help me, and trust that He will.
God uses trials to mold us into a stronger vessel for Him. If we give up, as soon as our situation gets hard then we will never be able to grow. If we persevere, however, and chose to endure the hardship with praise and glory for our Lord, He will help us overcome it. I ask Him to help me to overcome so that I may use my experience to help someone else.

3.      Understand that the situation and feelings will not last forever.
This one is so important for me. My mind always tries to rush to the worst case scenario. But if I stop, and really think about my situation, it’s never as bad as it seems. As soon as possible, we need to silence the negative voice in our head.

4.      Praise my God through the storms.
Anytime we can shift our mind-set from a victim to an overcomer, we are able to overcome the hardship. Writing in a gratitude journal helps me to see my situation with a new perspective. If we focus on our problems then we will have more problems, but if we shift our focal point on all the things we have to be grateful for, then we have more gratitude.

5.      Develop a plan.
Through prayer, meditation, and reading our Bible God guides us. It’s so important for us to seek His guidance in all things. And then follow through. If we ignore His instructions and stay in our thoughts and ways, then we will never be able to overcome our hardships.

Everyday there is something for me to overcome; physical pain, fear, negative thoughts, or restrictive beliefs.  It is so important for us to love ourselves through each day, and especially the difficult moments. In order to do this, we need to restrict the negativity in our lives, and welcome more joy. The Bible tells us to seek peace and pursue it.

Psalms 34:14 KJV
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

When I truly desire the peace of my Lord, and pursue it, the things of the world are not as overwhelming. Right now, I’m making changes to my blog, website, and social media accounts. It is fearful. The different options are staggering. It is easy for me to become overwhelmed, and not know which direction to go. But when I put my trust in the Lord, He will guide me with all things. And He will help you, too.

If you would like to read more about how I overcome my circumstances, check out my book: Despite Your Circumstances. If you would like an autographed copy, send me an email: I'll even include a special bonus. It is my desire to help you. 

May God bless you,
Candida Sullivan

P.S. You might also like my blog The 4 Step Process to Overcoming Our Trials.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Free e-book Today Only

Every Saturday I give away a free e-book and today (October 17, 2015) the free e-book is Зиппи и Полоски Храбрости.
Зиппи и Полоски Храбрости - это история о том, как малыш Зиппи научился принимать себя таким, как есть. Эта книга учит детей с уважением воспринимать различия друг друга и относиться к окружающим так, как они хотели бы, чтобы относились к ним.

Click here to get the free e-book. Or you can go to your amazon page and type in the title and search for the free kindle version. For anyone wondering, this is the Russian version of Zippy and the Stripes of Courage. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to share the link with your family and friends. 

May God bless you!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Outcast: How to Embrace Your Life and Your Dreams

We all feel left out at times. This illustration from Zippy and the Stripes of Courage resonates those feelings perfectly.

Somewhere along the way, we have been taught that we need to be like others and do things as they do them to be happy, accepted, loved, and successful. That statement, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Happiness, acceptance, love, and success all come from within. When we follow our heart and do the things which feed our soul, then we are able to achieve the greatest level of all of them. We need to remember that no one else has ever finished our purpose. That is why we are alive today. The world needs our gift.  

When I first started writing, I joined tons of online groups. People from all levels of experience and ambitions told me how to write a book. Instead of just giving suggestions, they specifically stated the dos and don’ts of writing. And they didn’t leave any room for creativity or big dreams.

Every post was so discouraging and negative. After awhile of hearing the negativity, I became very discouraged. The voices, of what I considered to be the experts, aligned with my inner critic and overwhelmed me. The words of my heart no longer had a voice because they were silenced beneath my self-doubts.

And I was miserable.

God doesn’t want me to take my gift and mimic someone else. He gave it to me to nurture and grow. Once I decided to write from my heart, wonderful things happened. People would approach me in the grocery store, send me emails, and tell me how my blogs or books had helped them. Through similar experiences we bonded and shared a connection. That’s what writing is for me—a connection with someone else.

It saddens my heart now, but I allowed others to delay my journey. Once my blog and books were doing well, the negativity poured in, too. People criticized my writing and I listened. The frequency of my blogs changed, until I nearly stopped.

Why did you start writing? Why do you want to write?

When I asked my heart these questions, my answer was the same as it has always been. I want to help others, give them hope, and perhaps a little glimpse of my God. I know what’s it like to feel hopeless and overwhelmed, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way. As they sink into the horrible hole of depression and feel there is no way, I want to challenge their perspective and encourage them of a better day. And if I can only help one person, I want to help that one person with my whole heart. 

So I wrote myself a note of encouragement:

Don’t spend so much time listening to the negativity of the world. Tune into God’s word. Listen for His voice and instructions. Embrace His words of encouragement. Open the Bible and allow God to restore your soul. And when you feel inspired, use what you have learned to inspire others. You and God can do great things.

Whatever it is that you want to do, do it. Don't let anyone or anything steal your dreams. 

May God bless you,


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stop the Excuses: How to Get Back on Track

All it takes is one bad thought and one wrong decision to get me completely off track.

The last few weeks have been difficult. My son fell and broke his ankle and had to have surgery. It’s been so incredibly hard for me to watch him endure pain and the types of struggles I encounter on a daily basis. Suddenly, he has had to modify everything about his day. Going from being totally independent to needing help has been hard on us both. 

The heartache of watching his suffering and worry about surgery was more difficult than my own pain. My sleep was interrupted and my thoughts were a kaleidoscope of emotions. Due to his needs and modifications in our schedule, I skipped my workouts. The numerous appointments caused us to eat out more often and for me to become sick. And then everything about my day became more challenging.  

While I tried to be completely positive about the situation, my mindset still struggled because every once in a while a negative thought popped into my head and I didn’t immediately dismiss it. To make matters worse, I had interviews and events scheduled. My body felt drained; emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

I was using all of my resources and not refueling. All of my energy was used to help others. I tried to encourage and comfort my son. Then I had events, interviews, and emails to answer that took the rest of my energy. At the end of the day, I felt overwhelmed.

While I still prayed, I didn’t spend enough time with God. What I needed was time alone with Him. When I walk or run, we talk. When I start my day reading His word and praying, He restores my soul. When I seek Him with my whole heart, He strengthens and comforts me.

But when I spend more time focusing on my problems and the negativity of the world, every part of my life suffers. The enemy lures me away from my God with bad thoughts. The devil is such a liar, and plays on my weaknesses. All he has to do is get me to take my eyes off of God. Then depression and hopelessness creep in. And I don’t even realize it is happening until I am completely off track.

My God, however, is always watching out for me. He uses people and positive thoughts to encourage me, and help me establish a new plan or get back on track with my former one. I even went back and read several chapters from my book, Despite Your Circumstances.

We all need strength and encouragement from each other, and I want to share with you a few of the things that help me.  
·        Before I open social media every morning and allow it to affect me, I need to be armed with the word of my Lord. So when my alarm sounds, I am learning to get up. Right then. No snoozing or whining (this is hard). Raise my arms in the air, smile, and do my victory pose for the day. (I learned this from Natalie Morales of the Today Show.)
·        Then I start my day, with a prayer of thanksgiving for my life and then pray for guidance. I have no idea what my day might hold, but I know I need my Lord to help me make the most of it.
·        After I have talked to my Lord, I open His word and allow it to speak to me. His word is what encourages me, strengthens me, comforts me, and restores my soul. The word of God fills me with hope, love, grace, and peace. It makes me want to be a better person and serve others.
·        Then without excuses, I plan my day and decide what needs to be done that day. I put it on my to-do list and try my best to complete it. During my day, I welcome things and people who lift me up and try to avoid people and things that bring me down. Social media is tricky and I am using it with caution.
·        At night, I end my day with prayer and God’s word. Before I go to sleep I want to have my mind and heart centered on God. And offer gratitude for my day.

And I have to tell you, these things make a tremendous difference in my life. My focus has shifted from feeling totally overwhelmed to feeling encouraged and hopeful. Every day I want to be the best version of me.

Do you have some other tips that would be helpful? I’m always looking for new ways to better my life.

God's blessings, 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

October is National Bullying Prevention Month: Use Zippy's Club to Celebrate and Educate

Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? What better way to raise awareness of bullying prevention than with character education. Zippy’s Club was designed to help children recognize and overcome the negativity of bullying. But it’s more than just a book about bullying.

Zippy’s Club offers hope for those who are different and going through difficult situations. It encourages us to become a better person, and even gives us a helpful guide. Zippy’s Club opens the lines of communication with families about bullying, differences, kindness, how to treat others, and to celebrate the gift of life. Below is a resource guide to help use Zippy’s Club effectively.

Rules for Zippy’s Club:
Be kind
Kindness and compassion have the ability to make a tremendous difference in our lives. Even if we disagree on different things, we can still be kind. Some people mistake kindness for weakness. However, we need to show others the power of kindness.

Treat others the way you want to be treated
This one is so hard. We all have a tendency to want to treat others the way they treat us, but we need to remember that the ones who treat us the worst, need our kindness the most. Being mean to others hurts us as well.

No bullying
We should all strive to be the type of person who lifts others up, instead of knocking them down. Regardless of how we are treated, we need to understand that we never have the right to treat anyone else badly. The only way someone else can hurt us is if we allow them to. Cruel words cannot hurt us unless we believe them.

Also, we tend to think that bullying comes from someone else in our life, when, in fact, we are the biggest bully in our lives. At some point, we have all talked negatively to ourselves. Some of the things we say to ourselves, we would never say to anyone else. We need to all be our own best friend.

Always do your best
We don’t know what we are capable of until we try. Good work ethics, encouragement, and discipline are priceless. The only limits we have in life are the ones we believe. We all need to dream big, and live beyond our preconceived limits.

Follow your heart
It’s easy to get with the wrong crowd, and end up doing things we wouldn’t normally do. Peer pressure is hard to overcome. That’s why it is so important for children to understand the consequences of their actions. While we all have the freedom of choice, we are not free from our choices. Just because someone else does something wrong, doesn’t make it right or mean that we should do it, too.

Look for the best in everything and everyone
Positive thinking is one of the greatest things we can learn in our lives. If we train our minds to see the best in everything and everyone, we will be able to overcome the hardships of life. Bad things are going to happen to us all. We can decide to be a victim of our circumstances or an overcomer.

Celebrate your differences
Differences are often perceived as something horrible and terrifying because we simply don’t understand them. Education and openness about differences change our perception. Once we realize that we are all unique, and our uniqueness should be celebrated not discriminated, differences are no longer fearful.

Celebrate your gift of life
It is so easy to get discouraged and get into the routine of complaining about everything. However, it is possible to break the complaining cycle by learning gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is the absolute best way to develop an attitude of gratitude.

Be happy
Happiness is a choice. Everything in our life doesn’t have to be perfect to have a good day. We can choose to be happy, regardless of our situation. Also if we omit the words “have to” from our vocabulary and replace them with “get to”, we will change how we view situations.

Ideas for incorporating Zippy’s Club into the classroom/home:
·       Start each morning with the pledge and the theme song for Zippy’s Club.
·       Focus on one of the club rules each week, and incorporate it into the lessons or daily activities.
·       When there is free time, work on acting out the Zippy’s Club play. Role playing is very effective in helping children understand the different feelings associated with bullying. 
·       Write in a gratitude journal each day.
·       Encourage children to make an anti-bulling poster.
·       Show children how to be kind. Help them make a thank you card for a soldier, police officer, firefighter, someone who is sick, etc.
·       Teach them the benefits of positive thinking.
·       Be creative and come up with other ideas to help children “be the best that they can be”. 
Today, October 3, 2015, the e-book, Zippy’s Club, is available for a free download on Amazon. Link:

Sign up for my free e-mail list here and I will send you coloring sheets, and Zippy’s masks to help you celebrate National Bullying Prevention Month. If we put forth the effort, imagine all the ways we can help our children. Just because they don’t mention being bullied or show signs of it doesn’t mean it is not affecting them. My parents never knew I had been bullied either. That is why I provide the resources and strive to help. As a little girl, I often wished someone would help me, without having to admit that I was being bullied.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Scars and Stares: How to Overcome Living With Scars

People stare at me. Some drop my change in horror and others pity me. But the rude questions and comments are by far the hardest to endure. One person asked me how I could love a God that had done this to me. A stranger told me that if her baby was like me and had Amniotic Band Syndrome, she would abort it. Moments like these are hard to endure. I’ve lashed out with anger, and shot daggers out my eyes. I’ve had my heart blessed numerous times, and cried many tears because of the cruelty of others. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what other people think of me. It’s how I view myself that matters.

For so many years, I hid my scars. I didn’t want anyone to stare at me, question me, or even know about my differences. Somewhere along the way, a sense of shame had overcome me. When I looked in the mirror, all I could see was scars. I expected people to stare at me and I watched for those stares. Then the most amazing thing happened to me.

God helped me to overcome my scars. Accept them. Love them. And, finally, embrace them.

It happened the moment I realized that I could have died. Some babies don’t survive the attack of the amniotic bands. But I was spared for a reason. God gave me my scars for a purpose. Acceptance is a powerful gift. Now my scars no longer have the ability to hurt me.

People are always going to stare at me, but I’ve stopped looking for those stares. It doesn’t matter to me. Let them stare. I truly hope, while I have their undivided attention that I can give them a glimpse of my Lord. When people ask me numerous questions, I desire to tell them about my wonderful God and how good He is to me. When strangers approach me, I hope that I can give them a glimpse of the person underneath the scars. In God’s eyes we are all the same, and He loves us.

I can’t change the behavior of others. Regardless of what I do, I can’t stop someone was staring at me or lashing out with cruel words. I can, however, choose how I react to it. Kindness is a universal language. Perhaps it will have no influence on the person treating me badly, but it will have a profound effect on me.

We should all learn to accept and embrace our own differences and uniqueness as a gift from God. Outwardly we might have a different appearance, or different gifts, but our spirit is the same. We are like God because He lives in us.  And we need to love ourselves—always.

We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. I’ve had people call me disabled to my face and say things like, ‘It’s really great that you can do that with your disability’. At first it was extremely hard for me. Now I know if someone treats me badly, it is a reflection of them not me. And instead of getting mad at them, I should pray for them.

So how do I wish people would treat me? What do I want them to know about living with scars caused by Amniotic Band Syndrome?

Honestly, I wish that more people would look beyond my scars and see me. Underneath the scars is someone who loves God, family, friends, and life. My life has been filled with pain, but also the overcoming of it. I am not a victim, but an overcomer. Some days I feel overwhelmed by trying to adapt to this world, but so grateful for my beautiful life. Sometimes I cry through my workouts, but I don’t complain. I pray every day because I couldn’t make it without my Lord, and I want to thank Him for always helping me. Given the choice, I wouldn’t trade my scars for anything in this world. They have taught me through my weakness that God is my strength. Regardless of the battle, giving up is never an option. I am capable of so much more than I ever realized. Being scarred has taught me about kindness and compassion, and how to treat other people.

When people look at me, I hope that they see a window to God. Through my life, overcoming the struggles and pain, I hope to shine a light to Him. I desire to reflect His goodness and help others who are struggling. In all reality, I am an ambassador for God. Through my life, hope, and faith, I desire to give others a glimpse of my wonderful God. And maybe, just maybe they will give their heart to Him as well.

When I reflect on all He has blessed me to overcome and all of the amazing blessings He has given me, I know that there is absolutely nothing missing in my life. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. God formed me exactly how He wanted me to be, and I am satisfied with being me. My friends, I pray that you will accept your own scars, love them, and embrace them. Without my scars, none of these wonderful opportunities would have been possible. 

May God bless you,

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra