by Jocelyn Tichenor
George Carey, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1992, said that the resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith—it is the Christian faith.
This is my story of resurrection.
It all started September 27, 1979; I was born. I was born to two loving parents who wanted me to succeed in all aspects of life. They knew the re would be challenges for the three of us to go through, but nothing could pre pare them for the shock we all were about to receive.
Mom took me to the doctors for a check-up at eighteen months. At that point, I was not walking. My pediatrician suggested that my parents take me to a neurologist and make sure I was developing according to the way I should be. My parents thought nothing of it and assumed everything would be just fine. The doctor evaluated the way I grasped objects, how my eyes followed them and my overall coordination. He then stepped out of the room and consulted with another doctor. My parents were pleased at how well I had completed the tasks set before me. When the doctor returned, he told my parents that I had cerebral palsy.
This was quite a time of sadness for my parents as I was the firstborn and they did not know what to expect in terms of my development. And so, their perfect baby was to be different. They went through a mourning period as they adjusted to the news. Finding out that I had cerebral palsy was quite a difficult pill for them to swallow. To assist me in making up for lost time, I went to physical, occupational and speech therapies at various times in my young life.
At therapy I was requested to complete difficult tasks, such as buttoning a shirt, walking on a balance beam and trying to speak so that people could understand me. Even to this day, the letter “R” vexes me! I really struggled in the early days to have people understand me and even today people mistake me from originating from a European Country! This time I was the one with the hard pill to swallow! The therapists challenged me to complete tasks, which were tremendously difficult for me.
Cerebral palsy, like all other difficulties, has its good things as well as its “undesirable things”. Cerebral palsy has given me a different perspective on life and I am more in tuned to people’s feelings. In addition, I have met people that I might not have otherwise met due to my cerebral palsy. I am a patient person; always willing to help people if they need it. Having cerebral palsy has demanded that I have self-motivation and perseverance (although my parents claim some of the credit for themselves) all qualities which, I feel, are needed to be successful.
Accomplishments, though they may be small, are always appreciated a lot more because of the tremendous amounts of energy necessary to complete the task.
There are always two sides to every story. There are several not so good things about cerebral palsy. Because I have a competitive edge about me, I am always comparing myself to others in terms of physical tasks such as riding a bicycle or having two hands that work together instead of one being significantly better than the other. Those comparisons sparked a real sense of jealousy in me. I would get wrapped up in the trivial things of life and not worry so much about academics, because when we are young, athletics is valued so much more. Because of my slow rate of speech, people would comment and tease that I was mentally impaired. That was a major blow to me because I had really struggled to speak well and articulately. When activities looked easy to complete, they always found a sneaky way of turning in to being almost impossible, such as cutting a juicy piece of steak. It is even more frustrating when your mind has been set on that steak for days on end!
As we gather for this special Christian holiday, I am reminded of the suffering that Jesus went through when he was crucified on the cross. Gloriously three days later, he was resurrected. My life story and yours can be likened to that of Jesus. Each one of us has a Good Friday in our life, a day we discovered something was not the way we wanted it to be. For me it was finding out that I had cerebral palsy. Yes, there was a time of mourning and asking the all too popular question, “Why me?” but there was the promised resurrection which is the Easter for all of us. For me, it was discovering the things I excelled at, such as working with people and speaking publicly. We try to mimic the way Jesus led His life, the successes and failures He went through to make Him a stronger person. Discovering our resurrection means going through the ups and downs as Jesus did when He was here on earth. Let us go forth and not only celebrate Easter, but try and live it the way He would. Amen.
Jocelyn Tichenor, former Deputy to General Convention, lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2003, with a degree in Communications. She likes to travel and spend time at the beach. Jocelyn works in Washington, D.C., for the federal government. She is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, in Washington, D.C