I met him in 1994.
When he walked into our church I stuck out my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Jacob.” He paused for a moment, peering at me through his square-shaped glasses, and shot back with, “I’m Tim.”
I didn’t know he had Cerebral Palsy (CP). He didn’t know that my mother had recently died from cancer a few years prior. We were both just desperate for a friend.
CP brought Tim many challenges and opportunities, one of the greatest of which was the opportunity to teach me about life. Here are just a few things my dear friend taught me:
A limp might explain but it doesn’t define
CP is can affect individuals in many different ways. Tim dealt with chronic weakness on one side of his body, it made him walk with a limp. A limp is hard to hide. It is usually the first thing people notice. Sure, the limp helped explained some things about Tim, that he had CP, but it never defined who he was. He taught me that we are more than our circumstances.
Falling is a part of life
Tim fell a lot. I watched him fall on every surface imaginable: Gravel, concrete, carpet, and the list could go on. But Tim was resilience. He always got back up. Life has a knack for tripping us up and sometimes we fall flat on our faces. But our character is built when we stand again. He taught me that no matter how many times you fall you always get back up.
Courage is in the heart, not the body
Courage is often romanized. Movies usually feature some strong, heroic specimen. Tim would never land the lead part in an action flick, but he had more courage than Hollywood could ever wish to fabricate. That is because true courage is found in the heart. Tim persevered every day in spite of the obstacles. Fear can paralyze us, but courage comes when we act anyway. He taught me that courage is not something we are born with it is something we must choose to embrace.
Embracing the struggle
Living with CP is not easy for Tim. The struggles of life come with pain, bruises, and tears. It is easy to lose hope. Time doesn’t always heal a grieving heart and some disabilities are lifelong, but there is always hope. The pain reminds us that we can feel, the bruises remind us that we are alive, and the tears remind us of how much we’ve loved. He taught me to embrace the struggle because when I do, I embrace hope.
Since 2001, Conductive Education Center of Orlando (CECO) has been providing hope for families by helping children with Cerebral Palsy and other motor disabilities achieve their greatest level of independence. Donating and volunteering are just a few ways you can help keep their mission alive.