rebelling against low expectations

Dear Disability, Thank You


Dear Disability,

I have often heard your words at everything in life.

“You can’t” are the words often spoken over me by you. However, they’re stopping.

I am done listening to you tell me who I am each and every day. I am worn out by you dictating what I can and can’t do.

Yes, I can’t run. But I can sit and listen. Yes, I don’t know the future, but I know the One who does. You are not me and I am not you.

This isn’t just a letter to dis you, it’s to thank you. For you gave me a new perspective of others, life and purpose. You taught me that life is far too short to chase after waves and hide during storms. You have taught me that I can’t live my life afraid of falling.

Yes, I will fall. However, that is where I learn. Yes, storms come, but that is where you learn to dance in the rain. You made me slow down and see the butterflies that I once ran past while chasing worthless dreams. You redefined my purpose in life.

So, I leave this letter saying, “Thank you.”

~ Eliza

This letter was written about one year ago, though a few things were changed. It was written near the anniversary of spending almost a year in a wheelchair.

I used to be furious about my chair and the reactions it brought. Even now, at times, it is a struggle to accept the knowledge that we live in a sinful world. Even the safest of homes can’t protect you from illness or rejection.

As I have walked through this storm and continue to do so, I wanted to share two words of encouragement based on what the Lord has taught me.

1. We will have pain in this world.

I know this first point probably does not come across as encouraging or uplifting in the storms of life. Nonetheless, in a way it is deeply encouraging.

It brings peace to know that all the pain and suffering that we will be called to walk through is not a form of punishment from God. Yes, sin brought about pain and sickness. However, it isn’t that God is cursing some and sparing others based on their so-called goodness.

I find this refreshing and relieving to know that my sickness is not God lashing out on me for a sin that I committed.

Take heart that even Paul, in all his ministry, suffered and longed to be freed from the sin of this world.

2. He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

Yes, this is the age-old Bible verse passed around whenever there is a diagnosis of cancer or a death in the family. However, take the time to meditate upon each of those precious words.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It is God, the One who never lies. The One who gave life its definition. God, who weaves ALL THINGS, be that abuse, cancer, or sin, for our good. It isn’t us trying to make things work out. It is Him and Him alone. Who some way, and somehow, will make ALL THINGS work for our good.

I don’t know what each of you are walking through. Maybe your best friend just died in a car crash. Or you have hit rock bottom chained to suicidal thoughts.

Yet, wherever you are, would you leave all things before Him? Wait, rest, and trust in the fact that He
is the creator of beautiful endings.

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About the author

Eliza Downer

, age 19, is a teacher by day and a writer by night. She can often be found hiking in the nearby ranges of Colorado or sipping a cup of coffee. She lives with her parents and 10 siblings.


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    • Olivia,
      I pray that you have a blessed day and am thankful that you enjoyed it. It was my joy to share what God has done.

  • “Wait, rest, and trust in the fact that He is the creator of beautiful endings.”

    I really needed to hear that today. Your love for Jesus, and your faith is an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story, Eliza! It means more than you know!

    • Sara,
      I love the fact that though we may not have the most beautiful of beginnings, He still makes beautiful endings. I am honored to share all that He has done.
      God bless

      • “Though we may not have the most beautiful of beginnings, He still makes beautiful endings.” That could be a quote! Such a true statement! It reminds me of a purity conference by the Mally’s that I was at last year and Sarah Mally was drawing a picture with chalk and telling a story relating to purity. It just looked like a bunch of black lines at first and slowly it became more pretty. Then, just when I was holding my breath waiting for her to finish the beautiful drawing, she draws two huge black line right through the middle of it! I was so sad! But then, she added to the lines and it became a tree, and the final picture was the most amazing, beautiful, magnanimous picture I have EVER seen! It was wonderful! I was teary eyed when she finished! Her picture/story was very similar to what you said above – God makes all “ugly” things to be pretty! 🙂 Thank you! You are an amazing writer! 🙂

  • Wow. Just wow. My little brother can’t walk due to an illness called AFM, and yeah, it really does feel like he can’t do much of anything sometimes; and that affects our whole family life. What a wonderful, powerful reminder that our physical attributes, no matter how crippling, don’t define us!

  • I can’t tell you how much I really needed this, and it was a blessing to read. Thank you for this beautifully-written article!

  • So beautifully written, Eliza. Thank you for the encouragement to “Wait, rest, and trust in the fact that He is the creator of beautiful endings.” <3 It is a precious thing to be able to cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares for us! {1 Pet. 5:7}

  • “It is God, the One who never lies. The One who gave life its definition.
    God, who weaves ALL THINGS, be that abuse, cancer, or sin, for our good.
    It isn’t us trying to make things work out. It is Him and Him alone.
    Who some way, and somehow, will make ALL THINGS work for our good.”

    Thank you so much for these encouraging words, Eliza! Your article blessed me greatly.

  • Wow! This reminds me of a quote that says:
    “We must salvage the fragments of joy out of life’s inevitable sufferings.” Thanks, Eliza!

      • I like it too! It is by Katherine Anne Porter. Actually, I re-worded it a little. 🙂 Her original quote was: “We must salvage our fragments of happiness out of life’s inevitable sufferings.” But I prefer “…the fragments of joy.” 😉 The funny thing is, if you google the quote, it won’t come up. It is actually from a marriage book my Mom read called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. LOL! Your article just totally made me think of that quote! 🙂 Glad you liked it!

  • Hey, thank you for this! But I have a question. I have EDS and am a teen. Since its a really rare disease that not many people heard of and since I am young, people have been telling me really rude stuff. “You need more faith” “I am sure it will go away” or they don’t believe I am in pain to begin with. Have you ever experienced somthing like that?

    • Yes, I have! I have NBIA, which is very rare. I have had people pray for healing and tell me that if I have enough faith then I will be healed. I don’t see this in scripture at all. I believe God can and will heal me. However, it might be in heaven where I am healed. Yet, it is so hard to explain this to others. Know that for the most part, people just don’t know how to react, so their reaction is prayer, or trying to encourage you. Most often, everything said is with a heart of love. Nonetheless, people do also say things because their human and say hurtful things. Here are a few things I have learned from dealing with people.
      1. Don’t allow their words to stick to you. It can be very difficult to ignore the words that threaten to cut your soul, however do so in love.
      2. Someone doesn’t have to believe your story or sickness. It is a fact and it is their choice to believe you.
      3. It is your boundary and right to share what and when you want. If someone asks questions and you don’t want to talk about it. Well, don’t.
      4. Also, no one can determine how you grieve. You have a loss with your sickness, and it is healthy to grieve.

    • Thank you so much for this Eliza! It was encouraging to me. I also wanted to say I have experienced MANY times people making comments like “If you have enough faith, God will heal you.” Or praying for me and then saying “Your healed! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” But clearly I’m not for I keep having symptoms. (I’ve had epilepsy since a newborn, and a not well known illness CIRS since 13, I’m 19). I like to go to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 which is about how Paul asked for God to take away the thorn in his side and he said “My grace is sufficient for you.” That has proved right in my life over and over. Unfortunately those people have never stuck around to see that.
      Thanks for you encouragement to not let people’s words stick to you Eliza.

      • Thats just it. I did the in dept Bible study I read the scriptures about Elijah, Elish, Moses, and Paul and how God still used them even more. And after reading them I am reminded about that. But Church, the place where Christians are so post to feel the safest seems like the place I feel the most distant. I feel like I have to plaster a smile and pretend to be happy or else I am judged more. Its so weird, I just randomly found this website. I am so grateful that I did.

        This morning while studying, I read about the firey furnace and how they said in Daniel 3: 17-18
        “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

        Just like you said, we wouldnt be the people we are without our trials. God is able to deliver us, but it dosnt mean that he will.

        • Nelani,
          Yes! Many Christians have suffered and have even died from sickness. However, this does not make them less Christian just because they are sick. Remember, “HIS strength is made perfect in our weakness.”

    • I have Nelani. One of my old running team mates was like that but he was a really good friend anyways. I tried to get him to understand that i did no specific sin or evil to get disabled. After Awhile he said he had tried but still found it hard to understand. I have Bipolar Disorder and have compassion about mentally ill folks. I just read a quick article about EDS. It sounds not fun. Is it painful? if you need someone to talk to be free to email me [email protected] . I’d kinda like to get to know more about EDS.

  • Thank you Eliza, this is what really needed. I have been struggling with different health problems, though doctors don’t know what’s wrong. Because nothing really shows up, more than half of the people I know, (including some of my close friends) don’t believe i’m even in pain because nothing shows it. But this Article really helped me. Thank you soooo much! =)

    • Keep fighting girl. JESUS is using you, and I know that at times it can be scary. I have laid in bed at times and just have cried, because I am so scared. I am only partly diagnosed. However! He knows! Even when no one else, not even yourself. HE does. Keep trusting Him, Katharine.

      • I’m trying. Thank you, Eliza! It’s cool to find people who have been, and are where I am with my struggles through sickness.

      • Eliza, in my dark moments the song ‘Just Be Held’ by Casting Crowns has really helped me. And ‘Oh my Soul’ also by Casting Crowns. I hope those songs will help you as much as they did me. Thanks for the encouragement! =)

  • I really enjoyed what u wrote! I’m the mama to 3 lovely children. One of my twins has severe CP. I recently wrote this. I just wrote this tonight & wanted to share with a group that might relate…
    My daughter is lame Lord, I’ll lean into you.
    Her needs are great, I’ll lean into you.
    Sometimes it’s sweet & easy Lord
    and sometimes it’s not.
    I’ll lean into you.
    When my touch is rough
    When I’m tired but awakened
    I lean into you.
    When I feel the space between
    gentleness & irritation,
    I’ll lean into you.
    Her body is limp.
    Her words are lost.
    I guess…
    I ache…
    But I’ll lean into you.
    The state of my soul
    and the space between
    has never been challenged so.
    Every moment of everyday
    with no maturation date Lord,
    I must lean into you.
    But her kindness to me—
    Her patience with me—
    in spite of all she cannot do—
    and say—
    Lord, she teaches me about how to lean into you.
    How she must lean into you.
    For she will always be leaning into me.
    Until one day Lord.
    One day, we will both run FREE
    with you!
    Thank you Jesus!

By Eliza Downer
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →