Most of us have someone in our lives who inspires our faith, and instills a great sense of friendship. Sometimes we are even blessed enough to have those who we may have no romantic connection, but rather one of acceptance for who we are and how to propel us forward. My friend Ken fits this criteria. We’ve been close for a long time. He inspires me on many levels. What amazes me about him, is that while he may have some limitations, he never lets it deter his faith. If anything, his faith is one of the things that makes him stand out.
When Ken was born, he had a stroke in his mother’s womb. He is partially paralyzed on the left side of his body. His left hand is clenched as a result of the stroke he had in his mothers womb. Along with having epilepsy which is a form of cerebral palsy, he also has scoliosis. You wouldn’t know that he was the survivor of epilepsy when you meet him. His laugh is infectious and loud. He has a smile that lights up a room and he doesn’t allow himself to be shy when meeting new people, unless it’s a pretty girl. He can get a little timid but it’s actually refreshing. Ken had epilepsy until he was around the age of 20. Can you imagine what life must have been like to go into a hospital after having Grand mal and Petite mal seizures all your life, only to come out of the hospital after a surgery that removed over half his brain, and live without seizures from that point on? I can’t. In fact, I’ve been around folks who had those types of seizures. It’s scary. They lose control over their bodies. Sometimes they don’t even realize that it’s happened until afterwards. Ken knew he wasn’t going to have another seizure after his surgery. God told him when he was going into the hospital from the parking lot. When he first told me that God told him that, I couldn’t argue with him. I’ve seen enough things in my life to know that when God is telling you something, you better listen because if you don’t, things will never be right for you. I know. Most of you don’t believe in God and that’s okay. Believe what ever works for you but faith is something that is hard. It’s hard to defend faith sometimes because a lot of folks only believe in what they can see or touch. Ken is different. He grew up with his father not really a believer. His siblings are. His sister is one of the most faithful people that I know. She too is an inspiration because she is taking things that have happened in her life, and using it to help others. There’s a lot of power with those actions.
Ken is the type of person who will give anyone the shirt off his back if he can help them. He loves football. Especially the Washington Football Team. The man can quote you almost any stat you want to know about their record. He takes the game very seriously. He will defend his team with everything in him. It’s been a hard life for Ken on a lot of levels. He loves sports but has difficulty playing many of them. He would enjoy golf more if he could figure out a way that he could play without causing so many issues. I think that’s one of the reasons he doesn’t join his family much on the golf course.
If you had to go and live your life with half a brain, could you do it? Would you be able to read at a quick rate? Probably not. But there are those who do. Ken can’t read quickly. He wanted to become an architect. Going back to school was difficult for him. After the surgery, reading was more difficult than ever. Processing information could be done but at a much slower pace. He had to learn how to walk and talk again. The littlest things that most of us take for granted took a lot of work to master. If you ask Ken a direct question, his standard answer is “I don’t know.” That’s not a bad thing. He’s telling you that his brain doesn’t think quickly in terms of specifics but not long after he says this, he’ll start bringing up other tidbits of information that are of importance.
Ken is like so many people in this world. He has a physical set of impairments but they don’t define who he is. His heart is full and he wants to help people. He wants to tell his story and he will tell it. He has no problem if you ask him, telling you what he had to go through and what his journey has been like. He was bullied a lot as a kid. He found comfort in his faith. His sister was the one who inspired him to follow God. He saw how God was working in her life and he wanted that same feeling for himself. His family has been a strong influencer in his life. His brother is well known in the golfing world and Ken has often said he’s proud of everything his brother has achieved. His sister recently moved into the area and they have started getting close again. I’m grateful for this because they are both filling a void with each other that’s been missing for a long time. He really missed her.
There are days where Ken struggles just like we all do. He used to work in a bank. He was accused of a crime he didn’t commit and instead of the bank launching an investigation, he was fired pretty much on the spot. It had to do with a woman. Unfortunately, the woman in question had outside influences that were making her believe that he wasn’t a good person. This was the furtherest thing from the truth. It’s taken him years to rebuild his life. He finally has a job that he’s respected with and he’s been with for years. But it’s also made him wary of relationships. He still tries to date with online dating apps and one day I think he’ll meet the right one. In the meantime, he keeps educating those of us who let anxiety and depression overtake us.
I asked him once why he believed in God so much. And he told me that he’d seen God’s hand in too many things to not believe. When I think of the fact that he’s been seizure free almost thirty years, I’m reminded that just because we don’t see God, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. We can’t see gas and yet it exists. We can’t see air but it exists. It’s the little things in life that we can’t see that are allowing all of us to have our own journeys in faith. It doesn’t matter what you believe in or who you believe in. What does matter is that you are an inspiration to those around you. You may not see it or understand it, but I guarantee you, we are all walking on journeys in life. So to Ken, thank you for being a good friend and inspiration to me and so many others. You show every day that each step you take is a step forward and that when you believe in something so strongly, that anything is possible. I can honestly attest to the fact that when my own depression and anxiety take over, I’m reminded how Ken must have felt lying in the hospital after he came out of surgery. He believed with every fiber in him that he would be okay. Not only has he proven that to be correct, but he is inspiring others that it’s okay to be afraid. Don’t allow the fear to make you succumb. Instead, attack the fear and let it know that this is your journey and you will not allow yourself to give up your positive energy. Just keep putting one foor in front of the other and you never know where you’ll end up.