by Dee Kisser | Mar 15, 2022 | Life Advice, Testimonies
Since the 2022 Winter Paralympics have just finished up, I thought this would be a great time to share a bit about my own Paralympic experience in Tokyo. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my little story, I swim for Team Canada and this past summer God fulfilled a dream that has taken 13 years and many miles of going back and forth in the pool to accomplish! But hey, we made it! Although, what most of the world and social media doesn’t know, was that going to Tokyo and being at the Paralympics was at times really awful. Yup, you read that correctly.
You’d think that fulfilling a life long dream would go as smooth as the peanut butter I put on my toast this morning. You’d assume that if God was gifting you with a reward like this, that he’d make sure there was 100% no drama and everything would be exactly how you dreamed it would be…yeah, not so much. A girl can dream and I thought this dream was pretty valid. Have you ever wanted a dream to go smoothly?
There were some days in the athlete’s village where the only thing that got me through the day, was reminding myself that I was currently sitting in a gift. I was literally standing in the middle of an answered prayer, but why was it nothing like I imagined? Why did it feel so overwhelming and heavy? Now don’t get me wrong, competing for Canada at that level was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! I loved every second of my race, walking out to the blocks, soaking it all in, feeling completely at peace and no pressure to perform. Knowing that I wasn’t there to perform for the world but there because God takes pleasure in watching me swim, that hits different.
That one moment was everything and more. I became a Paralympian on August 28th, 2021, the day God intended.
But other than that, the whole experience was super difficult. Emotions where high, performances and medals were top priority. Have you noticed how people lose themselves when they are put in a high stress environment? My teammates who I thought had my back, just didn’t. Everyone was on edge, emotions were driving peoples assumptions, lack of leadership made for a chaotic atmosphere and to top it all off, being thousands of miles away from your friends and family was harder than I thought.
I left Tokyo feeling like my gift came with a price. And in all honesty, I felt like God made me pay for it myself.
Yes, I was given what I always wanted, but in the theme of full transparency, all the work I had done felt like it should have produced a more comfortable reward. If you’ve ever felt this way about something that you’ve worked for, a dream that you’ve had, or an opportunity that you earned, I am right there with you. It’s not a fun place to be in yet in all honesty it’s a human place. But the good news is that I believe God can handle getting us out of it!
My friends, does life ever go exactly how we’d like it to? (Let me know if it has for you because I’d love to meet you one day and find out your secret!) Although for now I think we can agree that most often life does not go as we’d like. For example, relationships face their reality checks when the person you’re with shows you that even they are human too. Even the most handsome boy in school isn’t perfect. Our jobs seem great on paper, but good grief if Karen from accounting sends me one more email! Even dreams don’t always play out in the way we thought they would or in our ideal time frame for that matter (anyone getting Joseph vibes?). We dream of having kids, and one day they make decisions that we definitely told God we didn’t want them to make. We commit to a company and we know the work we’ve done is worth a raise, but that raise and recognition never comes. The bottom line is that sometimes what we work for doesn’t end up how we thought it would.
In that case, if we’re ever going to figure out how to make it through our time on earth, let alone make it through our time well, I believe we need to find an answer to one simple question:
What are you working for?
It’s no question that human beings have always worked. In fact, the act of working and the concept of work itself is seen in the beginning of the Bible. Genesis 2:15 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Working is biblical, and God has designed us with an ability to work.
Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” In fact, a simple google search will tell you that the average person spends about 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime — we are no strangers to work. John Mark Comer raised an interesting point in his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, saying that to be seen as successful in todays world, is to be busy. If you are constantly working then you are living your life well, or at least that’s what we have started to think. If this is the case, what we are working for should matter, shouldn’t it? If we are to spend 90,000 hours of life at work, then whatever we are working for should add up to something. But what if it doesn’t? What happens when we have worked for something and it leaves us exhausted with unmet expectations? What happens when we get what we wanted, but there’s still an emptiness that’s lingering? What happens when the answered prayer comes with a little more heaviness than we anticipated?
If this is the case, then it is becoming more important than ever to answer the question. 1 Corinthians 15:58 is the framework for us to find this answer: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
Now, the word immovable can be defined as something that’s not changed in purpose; unshaken; firm. To be immovable is to be rooted in the purpose of God, to be strong in who He says He is, and to stand firm when life throws its best punches at you. To be immovable in your work is to be unwavering in the knowledge that your work, whatever it may be, is for the glory of God and God alone. We partake in the Kingdom of God by doing the work that He has assigned for each of us, and that work (and level of worldly success) is going to be different for everyone.
Now the next part of the verse, “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord”, is a little tougher. You might be saying to yourself, “Doesn’t God know that my work isn’t always easy? Has he not seen the stress I’m under?” Now these are valid feelings and God definitely sees you and understands what you’re going through, but what this verse is telling us is not that we should work enthusiastically for the title, the dream, the money, the fame etc., but that we are to work enthusiastically for the Lord.
Your work is the means by which you get to serve God. We are called to work enthusiastically for the Lord because He is the one who created us to work for him in the first place! Remember Genesis 2:15? God has placed us in our unique spheres of influence to work for him, not for the things of the earth. Yes, there are many things we will achieve while we work and likewise, many dreams will be accomplished while we commit to working for them. But what I want to remind us of today, is that if we are working for anything other than God, as good as the gift might be, it will never be enough.
Then lastly, why is it okay to work enthusiastically for the Lord? Because “Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” I realized that I was in Tokyo for something greater than my own comfort and personal achievements. God had given me a dream, and after years of work he was kind enough to make it happen. He will never waste what He ordained for purpose.
When you choose to work for the Lord, nothing you do will ever be useless. When your dreams aren’t met, or when they turn out a little different than expected, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can choose to be immovable and stand firm, because your work is not only for you, but instead for the glory of God. When we work enthusiastically for the Lord, I have a feeling that we will begin to see our dreams as a means to draw closer to God, and not as a way to gain the world.
My name is Dee, I’m a born and raised Canadian, and I swim for Team Canada! I recently competed at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games, and I have a passion for encouraging people to embrace their unique differences. I’ve got a youtube channel called This Little Light, and you can usually find me drinking an iced coffee and making short jokes. We’ve all got a unique light inside of us to shine, and I think it would be fun to shine them together!
by Dee Kisser | Oct 12, 2021 | Life Advice, Testimonies, Wisdom |
Differences, we all have them. Some are visible to the eye, others lay beneath the surface, waiting in anticipation for someone to notice. We are all so different; so unique, so wonderfully made, and I would go so far as to say — extraordinary.
Hey friends, my name is Danielle (Dee if we want to be less formal) and I too, am different. For the ones who are just hearing my name for the first time, I was born with achondroplasia dwarfism. In the simplest terms, this means that my bones don’t grow very much, and I will be little for the rest of my life. Everything in my body is the same as yours, just condensed into a smaller package. I am the only one in my family with dwarfism, and this has often led me to the question: Why did God make me this way? As any “Good Christian” would do, I turned to the Bible in the hopes of finding an answer to this question. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 it says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Well this doesn’t answer my question. In fact, when I came across this verse it drove my original question into the essence of what i’ll be writing about.
“God how do you expect me not to fix my eyes on my physical appearance? When it seems like that’s the only thing about me the world is looking at?”
I don’t remember the exact day that I started realizing I was different. I have a younger brother and even as he grew taller than me, I don’t remember that being too alarming. He was my little-big brother, my protector, the one who could do things for me, so believe me I was fine with it. When I was around 5 years old, we were driving home from a Little People of British Columbia event – an organization for people of short stature, and from the back seat of the van I asked, “Am I going to look just like so and so when I grow up?” My mom is not someone who beats around the bush, so when her 5 year old daughter asks a very direct question about her future, there is no point in being vague. “Yup, you are” she had said. For a moment I was silent, I guess processing what this meant, but who knows. After a moment I replied, “Okay”, and that was the end of it. My mom tells me I never asked the question again.
Another time we were in the car, and as she parked she heard a dramatic sigh come from the backseat, “What’s wrong?” she asked. Silence filled the air as she awaited my response, then I replied with, “I’m just preparing for everyone to stare at me when I get out of the car”. Just like when your child falls and scrapes their knee, and you aren’t supposed to show them it’s a big deal, my mom never showed me how profound, serious, and sad that statement was. “Yup, you ready for it?” she asked me. To which I took a deep breath and replied “Yeah I’m ready.”
I tell you these stories not to make you sad, or to throw myself a pity party, but rather I tell them because I believe there is a profound freedom that comes when we acknowledge our situations, and allow God to use them in the way he’d like. Because, if God is the true Creator of all things, then he has created all of you. Now I don’t know why some of us seem to have it a little harder in certain areas than others. This isn’t a “my difference is worse than yours” debate, but if we are to believe that God is the Creator of all things, then we’ve got to believe that He will work some type of purpose into all of you.
I didn’t have to love that I was going to be stared at, nor did I have to love my mom’s answer that I look different. All I had to do was acknowledge it was there, and make a decision to get out of the car. You may be asking yourself now, “how do I acknowledge my difference?” Well, how often do we walk past a mirror and look at our appearance? I would bet, that every time we see ourselves in the mirror, we are taking notice of something about ourselves. Is it your height? Your weight? Maybe your hair colour? Skin colour? The way your outfit is on fleek!? I don’t know if people still say ‘on fleek’, but you get the picture. I’m going to be bold and suggest that we look at ourselves a lot more than we’d ever admit. In that case, in just this one example of looking in a mirror, we’re actually acknowledging what makes us different, a lot more than we realize.
Still with me? Because now it’s one thing to acknowledge the existence of something, but it’s a whole other thing to let God use it for good! So bringing it back to what I mentioned earlier, that can be a tough thing to wrestle with — you feel like the parts of you that make you so different, are the only parts the world is looking at.
Now I’m feeling like we need some good news!
True freedom comes when we are able to surrender to the fullness of who we have been created to be — this includes our unique differences. Giving God our differences, and laying them down, brings freedom. We can surrender our minds, our thoughts, our hearts, our dreams, relationships, finances, you name it! Albeit, have we ever thought what would happen if we surrendered the parts we wish were different? The parts of us that make us unique, the parts of us that stand out a little more, or maybe they are hidden beneath the surface. Differences aren’t a mark of an imperfection, rather a unique signature from your Creator — a one of a kind, beautiful mark that claims “I am yours, and you are mine.” And if we are truly going to walk out our life’s purpose on earth, we must begin to see our differences as God’s signature that help’s to unlock our true freedom. We can’t change how we look, or the life we’ve been given, but we sure can choose how we live in it. Just like those field trip permission slips we had to get signed in school— we’ve got God’s signature, now its your turn to hand it in. You are His ability to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth and to shine his light
in the places that do not yet know who He is – that is your purpose. We fix our eyes on what is unseen because our freedom comes from what is hidden in eternity.
You are so special to God, every part of you is special. I’ve spent a lot of my life learning how to surrender my dwarfism — trusting that my disability can be used for good. That God has created all of me, and perhaps my dwarfism is what God wants to use. Some days it’s easy, some day’s I can’t bear the thought of trusting God with it. It’s a process, but nonetheless a process worth doing.
Probably you: “Alright Dee…. I know what makes me different, what do I do about it?”
Well, well, well, let me tell you!
- Acknowledge what makes you different.
In no way does that mean you have to love it, or that you need to have it all figured out — just acknowledge and accept that it’s there. If we aren’t willing to accept what makes us different, accept our situation, then we won’t be able to lay them down.
- Lay it down.
The truth is, our differences can be heavy! The world is heavy, and it’s heavy to carry your difference alone. But thank goodness we have a God, who sent Jesus to do the one thing we couldn’t do, and who came to carry our burdens for us. For example, “God, I lay down ______ today. Thank you for carrying my difference.”
- Walk through the door.
Take a step of faith, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God will give you the strength to move forward in freedom from the differences we carry.
So if you’re still with me, acknowledging our differences reveals the door, laying them down unlocks the door, and before you feel as if you cant possibly walk through that door alone, it says in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Friend, he walks through that door with you. You’re not alone, and walking through that freedom door, is a lot lighter when we’ve laid down the heavy load of our differences.
As Christians, we have a unique opportunity to partner with God, to spread the message of Jesus, and shine his light while on earth. In order to fully participate in this, we’ve got to trust God with every part of us — differences and all. If God is who he says he is, and he is the Creator of all things, then rest assured that he has purposefully, wonderfully, carefully, and lovingly, created ALL of you.
Your difference is safe with the God who created you.
My name is Dee, I’m a born and raised Canadian currently living in Montreal. I’m living the student athlete life, currently in University doing a double major in Linguistics and Theology, and swimming for Team Canada. Recently competed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and I have a passion for encouraging people to embrace their unique differences. I’ve got a youtube channel called This Little Light, and you can usually find me drinking an iced coffee and making short jokes. Keep up with me via Instagram @dee_kisser