To the woman at church who sent me an anonymous letter

 

Dear Friends, please help me get this letter to the person who needs it by sharing it on your Facebook page, email and Twitter. Thank you.

 

Dear Anonymous,

I was very much disheartened by your anonymous letter. I was saddened that you hadn’t the courage to include your name so I could help you understand the truth. Since I must believe that you wouldn’t possibly “friend” a “man like me” on your Facebook page, I can only hope that someone you know shares this post on their site and that God guides you to this letter.

I came to your church to tell you about God’s love for His children and to talk about the beauty of His forgiveness. I don’t think you heard me. Or, at least, believed me. You wrote in your letter that I “had no place in a house of God, as I was clearly a sinful man” and that my sins were “manifested across my face, revealed by my many facial tics”.

Yes, no doubt I am, like most of God’s children, a sinner. But the tics you saw on my face were not from sin. They come from a neurological disorder called Tourette’s Syndrome. I was born this way. I cannot stop them.

Sadly, as a boy, I would have believed you that I was bad. My mother got mad at me that day my first tic manifested–a painful, constant shrugging. And, though I was only 8-years-old, I felt guilty for disobeying her when she told me to stop. As a 9-year-old I thought that maybe, if I was a good enough boy and I had enough faith, I could be cured of my tics. But they wouldn’t go away, so I thought that my abnormality must be my fault.

One time a church leader came to speak at my church. I was told that he was someone important. I remembered the Bible story of the woman touching Jesus’s garment and being healed. I thought that maybe if I shook this man’s hand I might be healed. So I waited in line. And I shook his hand. But my tics remained.

Earlier that summer, my family had moved to Utah and I had ridden a school bus to an overnight camp called Mill Hollow. Some of the children on the bus noticed my tics and one of them called me a “freak”. As I got off the bus, a scared child in a strange place, a group of children surrounded me to get a better look. And I was ticking like crazy, not because I was a sinner, but because I was afraid and humiliated.

Your letter reminded me a little of that day. Only I am no longer that naïve, helpless little boy. I now know that there are hundreds of thousands of us with behavioral disorders. And what you, or even a million deluded people like you, might say, doesn’t affect me anymore. I have moved on. I have a beautiful life, a beautiful family and home. I have seen the world. I have danced in the White House and spoken to audiences of thousands. Millions of people have read my books. I have built shelters that have housed thousands of abused children. And I still tic.

Sometimes when I tic, my wife will lovingly set her hand on my cheek and ask if I’m okay. It’s very sweet. And it means a lot to me. My children don’t even notice my tics. They only see the father who loves them. The truth of who I am has set me free. It can set you free too. Because with whatever measurement you use to judge, you must judge yourself. And you are using a very crooked and barbed ruler.

In all honesty, I must admit that I was angered by your letter. But not for me. I am far beyond your reach. I am angry for those children who are still trying to figure out who they are: children who are teased and ridiculed and bullied by cruel, self-righteous people like you. I am angered for those sweet, innocent children, who would rather die than show their tics, because you are so eager to let them know how unlovable and imperfect they are. And some of them do take their precious lives. Yes, this makes me very angry. The other day, at a book signing, a young woman I had never met before, put her arms around me and told me that she loved me. I asked her why. She told me that she had Tourettes and the kids at school made fun of her. But now many of her schoolmates are reading my books and, knowing that I have Tourettes, are now treating her better. I told her that she is not her Tourettes. I told her that I loved her too.

Dear anonymous, I hope you read this letter. I hope it opens your eyes. Or, better yet, your heart. But whether you change or not, remember this: we, the “abnormal” are not the ones to be pitied. The greatest disability is the inability to love those who are different than you. May God Bless you with His unfathomable and unconditional love.

Your flawed servant,

Richard Paul Evans, #1 New York Times bestselling author and a man with Tourettes Syndrome.

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Richard Paul Evans is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Christmas Box and the Michael Vey series. He is the author of more than 25 bestselling books. For speaking requests email heather@richardpaulevans.com 

 

 

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. I too can understand how you feel about being judge as I also was on Dec.4 by your own blog. I am 77 years old never gave any opinions on a blog in my life and I did on yours BUT I was judged because and I was told my comment was in moderation and since then I have asked at least 4 or 5 times now WHY? What did I saw that was so bad? But no one ever gave me an answer since Dec.4th and this has made me so disapointed especially from your organazation to the point I felt in my heart I should stop reading your books. I felt that you were two different people but I decided to try one more time to see why my comment was so offensive to be in moderation. Sorry this response does not go with this blog but it is going to be my last time to try to find out what was wrong as I am being judge also!

  2. Your blogs have inspired me to become a more compassionate and caring person . We also have several young family members with Tourettes, diabetes, learning disabilities, blood disorders, speech problems, addiction, as well as depression. But in our family they are all loved. Yes some of them have left this life earlier than we wanted but they fulfilled their purpose and went back to live in heaven with God. We understand that God didn’t created everyone the same nor would we want to be exactly like each other. He gave all of us unique gifts to overcome any of the battles we must face in every day life. We take each new diagnosis as a learning opportunity to show others that nothing or no one can control you except yourself. So just like everyone we have dealt with the ignorance of others only to become stronger individuals to help our new friends that have been recently diagnosis. Oh yeah we have some of those normal people in our family too. They just aren’t as special as the rest of us is what we tell them.

  3. I shared this on FB. Thank you, Richard, for telling your story. I missed it the first time and am so glad I had a chance to read it.
    You are so right that he greatest disability is the inability to love those who are different than you.
    Patti

  4. Wow. Thank you for sharing this story, though it saddens me that this woman wrote such a letter to you. I can only imagine what kind of painful history led her to this hateful view point. Thank you for continuing to write your beautiful books and share your personal stories that help so many. May the love contained herein join with all the love in the world to continue opening hearts until hate evaporates.

    1. Richard,

      I appreciated hearing about your experience. It saddened me to hear this. I felt sad that someone would say this to you. I am reminded of the story of the Savior when he was asked which of the parents of the blind man had sinned that he would be born blind. The Savior’s reply was short and candid. “Neither”, was his reply, “But that the works of God could be manifest through him. ” I have a similar thing which I deal with in my life, which is my thorn in the flesh, so to speak, and so do my children. Because of it I am not able to do some things that others are able to do, but I am able to do other things which others are not able to do. So I just do what I know that I can and what it is that I know that the Spirit of the Lord is telling me to do, and then I trust that the Lord guides all who pray. You are not an evil man. You are a very good and righteous man with a weakness or two, just like every other person on earth. The Lord tells us that he is made strong in other’s weakness and that he gives men weakness that they may be humble and that his grace is sufficient for all men who humble themselves before him. (See Ether 12:27) He also says that if we take our weaknesses to him that he will help to make them strong points.

  5. Richard,
    Thank you for this blog post. I too suffered by my peers when a youth, because of my own disabilities. Yes, I too suffered from nervous ticks. Whether or not it is Torrets syndrome, I do not know, nevertheless, I twitch a lot when nervous or stressed. I also have Complete Agenesis of the Corpus Calossum (C-ACC) which has resulted in much teasing, taunting and suffering by my peers and delayed social skills. In spite of it, I have become quite resilient and I love God for who I am.

    Sincerely,
    Russell Ricks
    Artist
    http://www.russellricksart.com

  6. This is the second time I have read this blog. I love and admire your response to this person. I feel sorry for her. Her life must be very empty if she can only love perfect people. We all have flaws of some kind. Thanks be to God who loves us unconditionally. And He loves her too. God bless you for your loving and caring heart. I love your books. I have read most of them including the Michael Vey series. I love you.

  7. What a dear man you are, Richard. I also have Tourettes and have had it since I was a child. I have suffered humiliation from others many times and wished this horrible affliction would stop. I’m now 72 and still have it but I have a husband, six children, 12 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and many others who love me as I am. Thank you so much for sharing – God bless you always!

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