True grit

Most speakers stride to the stage reeking of authority. They are there, after all, to tell the rest of us something we don’t already know.

So it was odd to see this bearded guy carried onstage, a handler bear-hugging him and carefully setting him down in front of the crowd. It’s not the kind of entry that whips the crowd into a frenzy.

Sign up for our newsletter!

* indicates required

There was a reason for the low-key entrance: The speaker has no arms and no legs.

That’s why 1,500 or so people gathered a few weeks ago at Fellowship Dallas Church on Park Lane and Central Expressway to see Nick Vujicic. It’s not often a guy with no arms and no legs swings through Dallas and wants to talk about it. 

Before I continue, try to picture what the rest of us saw that night. Think of that animated Progressive Insurance box on television, the one whose constant talking and weird confidence grates on the other characters in the commercials. The insurance box also has no arms or legs, so it moves deliberately, twisting its box-body back and forth as it struts from one commercial to the next, all the time yammering about its odd sense of self and, of course, insurance.

Nick Vujicic is the insurance box’s live incarnation, born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a disease so rare medical researchers have no idea what causes it. Imagine his parents’ surprise when their son was born 35 years ago looking completely normal from the neck up but missing those key body appendages the rest of us take for granted. He says his mother, shocked by his appearance, refused to even hold him at first.

During his speech, he talked a little about those early days in Australia, when his parents told him over and over again he was a “special” child, when they worked to “mainstream” him in school, and when they tried to convince him he could live a normal life despite an abnormal body.

Much like the high school kids we feature in this month’s magazine, Vujicic dug himself out of a place he didn’t want to be. Others helped Vujicic and our students along the way, but at the end of the day, it’s their grit and determination that shaped their lives for the better.

As Vujicic shuffled back and forth on the Fellowship stage for an hour, stabilized by two small deformed feet that grew where legs should have been, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have reacted to life in his position.

Frankly, I saw no scenario in which I wouldn’t have felt sorry for myself. Every day. All of the time.

Vujicic was in town to talk about Christ, who he credits for making his “Life Without Limits” book and worldwide evangelism crusade possible. It’s hard to argue with the results. The guy is a compelling warrior for Christ; he has a wife and four beautiful kids; he travels the world telling a story that inspires others, and from the looks of it, he couldn’t be happier.

Even without arms or legs, he’s a more fully developed person than most of us. 

Than me.