Like any proud Irish girl, I love St. Patrick’s Day. (According to Ancestry, I’m exactly 12% Irish.) I always wear customary green to mark the occasion, and I enjoy partaking in festive events. But what I love most about the day is the story of St. Patrick himself — especially when I take a look at some similarities between his life and my life with SMA.
Luck was not in St. Patrick’s favor during his first trip to Ireland. He was actually kidnapped from his childhood home in England and taken to Ireland where he worked as a slave for several years before escaping back to his home country. He later had a dream that prompted him to return to Ireland as a Christian missionary. After years of preparation and study, St. Patrick did return to the place where he was taken as a captive and set about establishing churches, schools, and monasteries.
While my life is quite different from that of St. Patrick, I still feel a connection to him.
His life was unexpectedly flipped upside down, and he was placed in an undoubtedly horrific situation. Yet, he persevered and even returned to Ireland with a mission despite what he had suffered while he was there before. St. Patrick could have rejected the idea of doing missionary work in Ireland, but he eventually embraced it. His impact there ended up being so profound that we still honor him and his accomplishments today!
My hardships feel rather small in comparison to what St. Patrick endured, but I find that there are a few similarities.
Having a progressive disability like SMA was also something that couldn’t have been foreseen — not with the limited technology and knowledge that were available when I was born in the late ’90s. That diagnosis flipped life upside down for my family and left us with an uncertain future. Yet, like St. Patrick, we also persevered. It hasn’t always been easy. There are always obstacles to overcome when you’re dealing with SMA, but they don’t have to stop us from reaching the end of the rainbow.
I’ve never felt compelled to go start a church in another country, but I still have a mission of my own that I try my best to embrace. I share my story with the hope of making a positive impact right from where I … well, you know. And my disability plays a large role in carrying out that mission.
SMA and the lessons I’ve learned from it have become tools that I use to uplift, inspire, teach, and encourage. I share about them during in-person conversations, on social media, and in this column. They are also an important part of my testimony as a Christian.
I may not end up becoming a legend like St. Patrick, but that’s OK. I will continue persevering and working hard to accomplish good. Every time I can make even the slightest impact on someone, I consider that to be a big win.
I hope you’ll also spend some time pondering St. Patrick’s life and legacy and perhaps your own as well. There’s just one more thing I’d like to share with you before you go. It’s a traditional Irish blessing by an unknown author. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my friends.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.
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