God has created each of us to be unique and given us different skills to influence the world. Jaim Connor has embraced those differences and uses his story to speak at schools across the country. Connor was born with Russell-Silver Syndrome, which causes him low growth, low weight and short height. In 2012, Connor shared his story with us about how growing up smaller than everyone else made him feel depressed and hopeless and how God changed that perspective.
“My bones are thin, my voice is weak and my eyes are unusual. I’m the size of a fourth grader. But here’s the thing – at 20 years old, I’m 4’10”, 65 pounds and as big as I’m ever going to get…From my earliest memory, I always felt a little like moth; always fluttering around other people, hoping to be liked and accepted and not swatted away. I tried to do everything the other boys did. When they roughhoused, I did too. I would be getting squished to death or trampled over but I hung in there. I had to. I had to earn my friendships. Getting demolished by the other kids and then getting back up was the surest way I knew to earn respect. Bruises, cuts and all…But no matter how much acceptance I got from the guys, there was a constant consciousness, even at eight years old, that I wasn’t like everybody else—no matter what I did. I was fighting an unwinnable battle. I was trying to wipe away truth. I was trying to somehow convince others that there was nothing different with me, when, of course, all you had to was look at me. When I think back the pressure was unbearable.”
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thought, God!
How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:13-17
“A pretty girl would not look me in the eyes and hold my hand in hers. I asked God again, why did you make me this way? What good does this do anybody? Why do I have to suffer? I fell into depression. There was a hopelessness to my life. Is this all I’ll ever be-small? Does this mean my life will be small too?I told God I needed Him in a way that I didn’t even recognize. ‘Take all of me, Lord,’ I cried out. ‘Make something with my life because I can’t. I’m yours. You’re all the hope I have.’ When I got up off my knees, I felt different. I knew my body hadn’t grown, but something inside me had. Even so, I had to check myself in the mirror just to make sure.”
Embrace your differences. God has created each of us to be unique. There are no two people that are the same. It is easy to get caught up in a comparison game and want to be “as skinny” or “as tall,” as another person. But rather than compare, reflect on the unique attributes and qualities that God has instilled in you. Take time this week to pray and reflect on how God created you. Make a list of your physical attributes and your character qualities and thank God for each of them. Sometimes it helps to do this with a group of friends, family or small group and have each person share something they appreciate about another person. Take a piece of paper and have each person write their name at the top, then rotate the papers so that everyone can write something they appreciate about the person whose name is at the top.
Befriend someone that is different than you. Whether it is the quiet person in class, the new person at work, or the teammate that isn’t quite as good as everyone else, God wants us to love one another just as He loves us. Pray and ask God to show you someone in your life that you can befriend. Sometimes it can be helpful to think through a period of time when someone befriended us and what their friendship meant to us during that time. Read through the story of David and Jonathan and their sacrificial friendship for inspiration. (1 Samuel 18-20).
Use your platform. God has given each of us a sphere of influence. It could be the school we go to, the neighborhood we live in or the place we work. He wants to use us to reach the people around us for Christ. Pray and ask God who He wants you to share your spiritual journey of how you came to Christ with. Ask God to soften their heart. Sometimes our most difficult seasons and trials can be used to God’s glory to help others who might be going through a similar circumstance, if we allow God to heal us and use us.
To read all of Jaim’s story, click here.