“When a man is determined what can stop him? Cripple him and you have a Sir Walter Scott; put him in a prison cell and you have John Bunyan; bury him in the snows of Valley Forge and you have a George Washington. Have him born in abject poverty and you have a Lincoln; load him with bitter racial prejudice and you have a Disraeli; afflict him with asthma until as a boy he lies choking in his father’s arms and you have a Theodore Roosevelt; stab him with rheumatic pains until for years he cannot sleep without an opiate and you have a Steinmetz; put him in a grease pit of a locomotive roundhouse and you have a Walter Chrysler; make him a second fiddle in an obscure South American orchestra and you have a Toscanini.” – P.S.
I complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no limbs.
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Nick Vujicic was born into a loving and pious Serbian family in Australia. As with any newborn life, there was much fanfare surrounding his birth. But unlike other normal births, it was fanfare for the wrong reasons: he was born without arms and legs. Neither the doctors nor the parents saw it coming, and there was no explanation for it; he was in otherwise healthy shape.
That day would mark the beginning of a childhood full of struggle, of more questions than were answers, of despair and bitter strife. But it would also mark the beginning of a destiny, a day that would one day lead to redemption and promise.
This destined path led Nick to a pit stop in Anaheim, where he was invited to speak at a conference called Pure Passion ’09. A number of teens and youth leaders had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Nick in person. We were bubbling with excitement but we surely didn’t know what to expect.
When you first take a look at Nick, you are captivated for the obvious reasons. The man has no arms and legs! I’ve seen this man before on numerous video clips, and I had a hard time just getting over that very fact. But it is a different matter entirely when you actually witness him planted on a special platform on stage. It was surreal to see the man without arms and legs standing, walking—jumping!—right before your very eyes. But after you get over the initial shock, you realize there is something bigger, something more captivating about this man that extends well beyond his physical presence.
Nick has a way of seizing the audience with his presence and speech. He is very humorous, down-to-earth, and just plain likable. He has a BIG heart and HUGE soul. He is somehow able to make you feel so comfortable before him, as though his “disability” was merely an afterthought.
When Nick spoke, you were sure to hang on his every word. He was every bit the eloquent, engaging, and dynamic speaker that you would see on TV. He began with several jokes and little personal facts to warm us up. After he broke us in, Nick began to open up about his personal journey.
At the tender age of eight, he was ready to take his own life. He recalls sitting there one day in his bathtub, contemplating turning over and drowning into the next life. But thoughts of his parents’ deep devotion and love—and intense sadness, if he were gone—kept him from suicide.
But what if he had gone through with it? He intimated what it would have been like to come before God the very second after he were to breathe his last:
I imagined myself before God, the moment right after I passed through this life, and I would have asked Him, ‘What, God, do you think was my biggest mistake?’ And I could have imagined God responding, ‘Nick, your mistake wasn’t wanting to have arms and legs, and the opportunity to be loved and live a normal life. Surely, I love you dearly, and I would have given you those things… But what if I had granted your wish, and you still didn’t care for me? Your biggest mistake, Nick, was that you wanted arms and legs more than you wanted Me.
My body shivered with goosebumps when I heard those lines. It was then that I thought to myself, I have never met another man in my entire life who was stronger or more courageous. As he neared the end of his message, the whole room was in tears. Perspectives were altered. Hearts were changed. Lives were surrendered.
(I still think back to this night—that, perhaps, might explain why I’m blogging about it almost a month later.)
It would almost cheapen his suffering and experience to say that I envy this man, for his emotional pains and physical struggles go beyond my deepest imagination, but may I declare that Nick is in many ways, shape, and form what I’ve always wanted to be and do with my life?
Nick has spoken to millions throughout the world, visited numerous schools, organizations, businesses, companies, churches, villages, and orphanages, as well as helping to found some of those on his own. Not to mention that he is highly successful in the business realm, dealing with funds and investments—“using money to make money.” And when he’s not out conquering the world, he tacks on hobbies that include swimming, surfing, AND golfing!
Whereas you and I and other “normals” would have termed his birth and life a tragedy, Nick has resoundingly turned his life into a megaphone of triumph. He has planted seeds of hope where there was once despair, and motivated people regardless of status or stature to raise themselves to a level where they would never have previously thought possible. His motto, after all, is: “No arms. No legs. No worries!”
If he can show such gratitude for his life, how much more so should we? We seem to focus so much on the little that we don’t have instead of being appreciative for the many things that we’ve been given. We spend our lives chasing after things that are supposed to cover up this hole when we can only be filled by emptying ourselves for a greater purpose. We were made to be dispensers of love; we were made to reach higher.
So this is it. I got one life to live—a gut shot 90 or 100, at best—and I don’t want to waste it. I want my life to be like his—I want to make my life count for something great! The biggest mistake of my life would be to chase after the things that will not last when there is only one thing that will remain after it’s all said and done.
Nick’s life is a miracle upon miracle. And he keeps a pair of shoes in his closet, just in case he is granted another one.
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