By Pastor John Ashley
In a world where it seems that those who shout the loudest and the longest gain the most attention; it’s good to know there are still people that inspire us to be a better person. My son Johnny was one such a young man. Johnny’s life was an inspiration to so many people. He didn’t fully understand his impact on the world around him, but he lived his life in a way that gained attention without the ability to make much noise. Besides having been born with multiple malformations and enduring over 40 surgeries, Johnny was also profoundly deaf. He lived his life in a silent world, only communicating through sign language. You see, it wasn’t Johnny’s ability to make noise that was inspirational, it was his ability to have a life well lived in spite of his disabilities.
Johnny exhibited traits that we all can emulate in our lives and be an inspiration to those that we encounter on a daily basis. They aren’t difficult, yet they are becoming more and more rare in our day and age. I have listed below four traits that, if we adopt them, will help us inspire those around us.
- Accept who we are – We are all individuals, created differently for a purpose. God has a mission for each of us to do. Johnny couldn’t do anyone else’s mission nor could anyone else do his. King David said in Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” We can only be the best “us” we can be.
- Don’t take life too seriously – Retain an ability to laugh at ourselves. Johnny had every excuse in the world to complain about his lot in life, yet he chose to be a light instead of a cloud. He always had a good sense of humor, and enjoyed making those around him laugh. When we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves, we can become bitter and cynical. No doubt life can be hard, but keeping things light helps us to endure.
- Have a genuine concern for others – Johnny was always concerned about problems others were going through. Whether it was a physical problem or another type of trial, he would always ask how people that he knew were struggling were doing. Taking an interest in others lives, even when we are faced with our own problems is inspirational. It seems today that we are all concerned about how life effects us and don’t take much thought about other people.
- Be grateful – Our son was always thankful for any assistance he would get. We taught him to always thank his interpreters. When he would go through medical procedures or spend hours in his chair at dialysis, he would be sure to thank those that signed for the doctors or other medical professionals that would care for him. Many times, though in great pain, he would sign “Thank you” to his interpreters. Having a thankful attitude in spite of our hardships is an inspiring trait. Thanking a person for their efforts on our behalf, in spite of difficult situations, not only will inspire others, but will change our attitudes for the better.
We may never know the full impact we will have on our world, but if we look to be an inspiration to others, we can be sure people will take notice. May the Lord help us to have a desire to inspire.