Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Forgiveness, Introspection and Connie Culp, my Inspirational Person of the Week

I neglected to publish this for whatever reason back when the story was first gaining national attention. Here is the re-post from back in May of this year. JW

There's a lot of bad stuff out there in the news, etc., and most times it feels like we aren't connected to it. But every once in a while, there's a story that seems innocuous at first, but reminds us all of our common bond as "higher functioning" organisms.

If you haven't heard by now, Jon and Kate are experiencing some issues (more on this later, I will no doubt surprise you), there's a swine flu out there determined to kill us all (yet the story reminds me more of the dopes who run out and buy 3 months worth of milk and bread when a small snowstorm is coming), etc. But to me, I'm always searching beyond the drama that sells ad revenue for the truly inspirational stories that give me hope for all of us. This week, I think I found that story.

Connie Culp, in my humble opinion, is one of the most courageous people you'll probably ever hear about. She is the woman who has received a face transplant after being shot by her husband in 2004. It's a horrible story, but one that reminds us all that there is more to life than just how much we own, or what score we shot in golf. Connie's story initially received attention due to the questions surrounding the "ethics" of this controversial procedure. I won't go into the arguments surrounding this part of the story, because quite frankly, I think it completely misses the point.

Ms. Culp received her new face from the Cleveland Clinic. If you listen to what she says in recent interviews, her statements are incredibly inspirational. Yes, she looks quite different, and yes, people will and do make fun of her. But all the cliches are appropriate; beauty isn't always what you can visibly see. At one point, Connie states (paraphrase) "this time a year ago, I didn't have a face. I used to be worried about my weight, my hair. It's so foolish."

So up till this point in my post, all the usual things apply. But the thing about this story that is so remarkable to me is her capacity to forgive her assailant. It's a true life lesson that we all should take with us. Connie showed me that you cannot truly live, cannot truly be happy, or truly appreciate your life until you learn how to forgive. And the life you have is the one you make.

As a side note, organized religion preaches this "forgiveness" message, but the validity of the argument is often lost since the messenger or congregation preaches "love everyone" and in the same breath, says something racists, homophobic, or otherwise, because God's loophole is that he supposedly forgives all of us for our crap. It's a joke, and the folks that seek this guidance are the even bigger joke. Said differently, if you think you could go through something comparable to what Ms. Culp has, and handle the situation with the same dignity and class that she has shown, you probably don't need to go somewhere with the herd on Sunday morning. For the rest of you, keep searching.

All you really need is someone like Connie Culp to remind you of what true forgiveness looks and sounds like. It's such a refreshing story, I'm very thankful for Ms. Culp.

Links to Connie Culp's Story are here and here .