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Look beyond the exception

Seeing his arms and legs gradually losing their strength and his body depending on a wheelchair, Stephen Hawking was told by a doctor he had a motor neuron disease, and the usual life expectancy was two years.

Twenty-five years later, Hawking published A Brief History of Time, which established him as a world-renowned physicist. He died at age 76 on March 14. His legacy continues to motivate countless people inunfortunate circumstances.

“Remember to look up to the stars and not down at your feet,” Hawking said. When Hawking found out he would not have an ordinary, healthy life, he managed to look beyond his circumstances and achieve great success.

We all have a life blueprint we want to follow, a dream or a vision we want to reach. Even our parents and society have expectations of a certain life we need to live.

We may or may not like these expectations being placed on our shoulders; nevertheless, we sometimes find ourselves falling out of “the norm.”

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “norm” as “a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group.”

We find ourselves falling out of the norm when we are single while all of our friends are married, being told we cannot conceive children, discontinuing our education due to a family situation or returning home early from a mission.

Feelings of shame and discouragement may follow as we feel different and fall behind.

When we cannot find any explanation for our unfortunate circumstances, Jesus Christ offers a different perspective.

When Christ and his disciples walked past a man who was blind since birth, his disciples asked if this man was blind because he or his parents had sinned.

“Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” Christ said in John 9:3.

Christ later performed one of his most well-known miracles on this man. He healed him, and the blind man was able to see.

Christ invited his disciples to look beyond the circumstances the man was in. When his disciples were looking at this man’s blindness, Christ saw a miracle he could perform.

In the summer of 2014, I found myself holding my deferment paper, standing in front of the school office, while all of my friends were planning graduations and internships.

I thought to myself, “How did I come to this point in my life?” Deciding to put my life on hold and serve a full-time mission was the loneliest and scariest time of my life.

My determination carried me through the next 18 months on my mission. The opportunity to serve has become one of the greatest blessings in my life, and I would not trade it for anything else.

Sometimes we need to look beyond our circumstances and fall out of the norm to be extraordinary.

Next time you find yourself falling out of the norm, look for the opportunities that might hide within and have the courage to be the exception.


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