What’s a person with dyslexia doing writing a blog, let alone a book? These are the same questions I’ve asked myself lately. I grew up using my “disability” as a crutch, an excuse for NOT doing the hard work of writing and reading. Why now would I voluntarily write? My “learning disability” was my free pass out of the harder subjects (chemistry, biology, English comp) in high school. I realized somewhere along the way that life doesn’t offer me a easier path. You don’t jump to the front of the line by using excuses. Once you graduate, the world isn’t going to say to you, “You can skip this hard assignment because you have dyslexia, and just go to the front of the line.” High-capacity people who contribute to the good of humanity don’t use alibis. My epiphany was one day when I was going to have to man up and give it my all, or I was going to get left behind. As I sought to get off of life’s remedial track and onto the Autobahn, this world taught me a few things. Dyslexia, specifically, taught me at least four life lessons.
- Stay humble or be humiliated often
Humility is a choice; humiliation is thrust up on you when you pretend and fail. I couldn’t pretend not to have dyslexia; I had to embrace it. My dyslexia is always around me. It’s like a shadow that never goes away. I’m reminded multiple times every day how I have a hard time stringing a correct or coherent statement together. As for spelling? Thank God for the squiggly red line of spell check! I accepted the fact that years ago God chose to give certain people “things” in life to “keep us from becoming conceited” (2 Corinthians 12:17). I have learned to thank God for my “thorn” of dyslexia. Do I wish it would go away? One hundred times, YES! But I also know that God uses it to keep me dependent on him (2 Corinthians 12:19). It’s in the moments that I start walking in arrogance of my self-sufficency that God has a way of reminding and humbling me (Daniel 4:37).
- Expect mistakes, but don’t accept them.
If you ever get a first draft email from me, have fun with that. Trying to decipher and put together what I was “trying” to say is a decoding process. Completing the dependent clauses or dealing with the dangling prepositions is always fun for a grammarian. I expect mistakes, but I hate them too. I am driven. I am learning – and I will never stop. Dyslexics aren’t dumb, it just takes us a little longer and a bit more effort to fully understand what we read. Most aren’t lazy either. According to Malcom Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath, we are just missing some gray matter. The mere fact that I have a blog is putting myself out to a world that scrutinizes, but it’s also my attempt to develop some muscles in my brain that not fully developed.
- Work harder than the person next to you.
Would you believe me if I told you that some of the most successful leaders and inventors struggled with dyslexia? Dyslexics that want to get ahead must work harder than the average person. Dyslexics that learned to apply themselves and rose above and beyond their personal struggles are people like JetBlue founder David Neeleman, British billionare entrepreneur Richard Branson, Charles Schwab founder of one of the largest brokerage firms. My work ethic came in large part due to my dyslexia. I start early and stay late and love what I do (most of the time 🙂 ).
- Be brave.
You can’t wait for the world to pick you for the team or say “yes” to your ideas. You must hear from God and go. Where God guides, He provides. When God called me into vocational ministry, I was 16 years old and hadn’t read a single book in my entire life (excuses, remember). I was the most unlikely person to enter a vocation that thrives in undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees; a vocation that studies ancient semitic languages, a vocation that requires a person to lead with compassion and passion, speak with authority and grace, and innovate while holding to the foundations of the past. My self-confidence started in the negative. Today, I read an average of a book a month, plus journals, plus materials in preparation for weekly messages. My message manuscripts are like writing an eight-page, single-spaced term paper every seven days. Be brave, and watch God use you – despite you. God majors in our inabilities, so no one can mistake that its Him at work in and through you.