December 21, 2017
By Sister Christine Kavanagh
The theme of our Advent 2017 blog series is “welcoming the stranger.” Please pray along with us! New reflections and art will be shared each Thursday throughout Advent. View the whole Advent 2017 blog series.
I have been privileged to minister with people with developmental disabilities for 45 years at ReFocus, Inc. I would like to share with you a story of a young man we support who has developmental disabilities, is transgendered and is a fabulous advocate for himself and the disability community. His name is Andrew, and this is his story in his own words.
5 years old: I know I am not like other girls. I just feel I’m very different, but I don’t really understand why.
11-14 years old: My body is changing. They call it puberty. I hate my body. The kids at school bully me. They call me awful names because I have trouble learning.
20 years old: I meet people online. I run away from home. They take advantage of me. I feel so alone.
Early 20s: I’m so depressed; I don’t want to live anymore. I don’t know anyone else who feels like I do. I am cutting myself to help ease the pain. I attempt suicide. I take pills. I end up in the psych ward of the hospital. The doctors find me a therapist. For the first time, I tell someone what I’m feeling. She understands.
24 years old: I meet many people who are like me. What a relief it is to know that I am not the only one who feels like I do. I meet people who are gay, lesbian, transgendered. I start to talk to my Mom and Dad again.
Today I am 37 years old. I am proud to be Andrew. I live in Shared Living with Kate and Kelly. They are so accepting and encouraging to me. I have a great life. I have friends. I am a Special Olympian and play several sports. I am who God made me to be. I know that is true. That is what God wants for me.