01/04/2013 11:17 am ET Updated Mar 06, 2013

Wheelchair Wisdom: Living in God's Holy Thoughts (Light)

You are a child of the universe,
No less than the trees and the stars;
You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe
Is unfolding as it should.
-- Max Ehrmann

As people learning to live successfully with illness, we are pioneers focusing on embracing basic principles, values, and spirituality. No one knows better than we do the importance of focusing our lives in these ways, through acceptance, cooperation, compassion, and forgiveness. In all that we confront in physical suffering and limitation, we discover the path to values that are both eternal and comforting.

In light of the tumultuous end to 2012, you may want to consider these healing principles as you look toward the promise of 2013:

  • As we free the frightened and innocent child within, we begin to reclaim the inner peace that is our birthright.
  • As we free ourselves from the concept that our identity is limited to our personalities -- what we think, say, do, or how we feel today -- we feel ourselves living more fully through that part of us known as the soul.
  • As we accept and honor ourselves as we are right now, we discover that our true freedom is found in the spirit, and not in our bodies, emotions, or minds.
  • As we accept our own lives, rather than judging them for what they are not, we also accept others for who they are instead of who we might want them to be.
  • As we learn to receive God's love for us, we discover that we are all joined in our hearts as one.
  • As we begin to see that all of life is our teacher, we see every event as a mirror, providing us with a clear image of the next step in our path of personal growth.
  • Through the practice of forgiveness we discover that love is the most powerful healer.
  • When we recognize that our true identity is spiritual, it can provide unlimited wisdom, clarity, and love far beyond anything the personality by itself could ever provide.
  • In the acceptance of the negative aspects of ourselves, the parts that we would rather reject or pretend don't exist, we discover our humanness and bring light and peace to our inner selves.

The path of grace begins when we choose to affirm our love for ourselves by pursuing a simpler life, one with deeper meaning, rather than reacting to our physical or emotional circumstances with anger, fear, doubt, guilt, or depression. When we are in pain or have just received news that frightens us, it can seem that we have no choice -- that anger, fear, and doubt are natural and automatic reactions. As my dear friend, Dr. Jerry Jampolsky, reminds us, "The essence of our being is love." Love is the healer.

But through the practices we've been exploring in these blogs, we gain the power of choice -- even in the face of our greatest challenges. That power is the source of our inner authority and strength; it is the expression of grace in our lives.

Does this mean that we cease to experience those feelings we might judge as "negative," or that we are always in control of our emotions? No! In fact, there is not a day that I don't fall down emotionally. Just the other day at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, I furiously and loudly gave a piece of my mind to two clueless teenage girls who were using the handicapped stall to apply their makeup in its mirror, while I waited to use the stall. Admittedly, this was not the most enlightened, accepting reaction.

However, the better I get to know myself and how I relate to the qualities of character and the core strengths we've been exploring here, the faster I am able to pick myself up again -- often doing so immediately (except when someone is irresponsibly using the bathroom that I am waiting for!). Grace is always extended, something that becomes clearer each time I remind myself that healing is an ongoing process and never a final destination.

In recognizing this, I let go. Through grace I can accept that healing, like the opening of a flower, is a gradual awakening that we cannot rush.

Happy and healthy new year,


Excerpted from You Are Not Your Illness: Seven Principles for Meeting the Challenge by Linda Noble Topf (Simon & Schuster, 1995), pp. 202-206.

Contact Linda for practical spiritual counseling, and transform adversity into a spiritual awakening. Visit for more information.

Linda Noble Topf is author of You Are Not Your Illness: Seven Principles for Meeting the Challenge, Simon & Schuster, 1995. Wheelchair Wisdom: Awaken Your Spirit Through Adversity, will be published in 2013 by Berrett-Koehler & iUniverse.

For more by Linda Noble Topf, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.