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Seeing Divine Potential

Lessons on Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Our Gifts

We all face challenges in life, some more visible or pronounced than others. Yet within each of us lies divine potential waiting to be unlocked. Tate Castleton’s story provides inspiring examples of seeing beyond limitations, embracing divine gifts, and bringing light to the world. Though born with physical disabilities affecting his mobility, Tate has led a life full of rich blessings by focusing on abilities rather than disabilities.

THE POWER OF BELIEF: NURTURING GIFTS THROUGH UNWAVERING SUPPORT  

From an early age, Tate was persistent in pursuing interests and activities typically associated with total physical mobility like sports and other physical activities. He attributes much of this drive to his parents’ commitment to raising him no differently than his brothers despite his physical disabilities. During childhood, doctors advised that Tate would be extremely limited in life activities. Tate’s mother firmly rejected this notion, resolving to nurture Tate’s passions and treat him equally. Her openness unlocked opportunities for personal growth. 

As Tate shared, “One of the decisions that my parents made early on in my life was that they were never going to treat me any differently than my brothers…They were always going to invite and encourage and support me in doing whatever I wanted.” This unwavering support gave Tate the confidence to push boundaries. Though requiring some accommodation like learning to shoot basketballs right-handed, Tate pursued interests aligned with his talents and desires, not societal assumptions about disabilities.

The refusal to impose limitations is a delicate balance. Well-meaning parents may wish to prevent children from failure or embarrassment by guiding them away from seemingly difficult tasks. However, the very act of pushing comfort zones grows abilities and resilience. Loving support for children to tackle challenges breeds self-belief. As Tate’s experience shows, nurturing gifts requires rejecting notions of “can’t” and embracing each child’s divine potential.   

TURNING WEAKNESSES INTO STRENGTHS: USING CHALLENGES TO CONNECT AND SERVE

Reframing weaknesses as strengths increased Tate’s capacity to achieve great things, including serving a full-time mission for his church overseas. In pursuit of this passion, Tate confronted many obstacles related to his physical mobility. Yet viewing these difficulties as learning opportunities for patience, resilience, and connection proved invaluable. 

Tate shares how his perseverance often touched others’ hearts in unique ways: “We spent a lot of time in Australia going door to door to meet and talk to people. And there were a few occasions where people, I do believe their hearts were softened because they would look at me and they would say, why would you come all the way around the world and wear a white shirt and tie every day with an obvious disability that you have and work this hard day in and day out if it’s not something that you didn’t really believe in your heart and was important. And we had moments like that where we were allowed to teach people and work with people because of those experiences.”

Rather than focus on limitations, Tate allowed his special abilities story to deepen bonds through added context and empathy. This openness connected challenges to purpose and literally opened doors to uplift and serve others. Viewing weaknesses this way provides opportunities to develop character and make a difference.

MOVING PAST LABELS INTO RELATIONSHIPS 

Societal discomfort with disabilities can unfortunately produce negative assumptions. It can be easy to feel that those facing physical or mental health challenges live lesser lives. Tate’s example provides a blueprint for moving past labels into a shared humanity. His success in pursuing education, career, and family arose from mutual understanding rooted in universal hopes and struggles.

Tate’s future wife, Emily, exemplifies looking beyond societal biases to find common ground. Tate shared the story of when they first met in person after talking on the phone for so long that Emily, had a very untimely nosebleed that required immediate attention. Tate reflects that this shared and unexpected challenge set both parties at ease. He shared, “The Lord was on my side because he knew how nervous I was for Emily to see me and my physical disability that first time, and he did something to put us both in a situation where we weren’t concerned about that.” Rather than fixate on Tate’s disabilities, Emily connected with his humor and kindness. From such core human bonds, their loving relationship flourished.  

NAVIGATING “AWKWARD” QUESTIONS WITH COMPASSION

People with disabilities often face well-intentioned yet misguided questions from friends and family. Though not ill-natured, these questions can feel dehumanizing by fixating on limitations versus shared hopes and humanity. Tate’s example provides guidance for responding with grace and wisdom.

When Emily’s family initially expressed hesitation about her relationship with Tate, he met their concern with empathy rather than resentment. Tate shared that he understood their wariness in wanting Emily to have the best life possible. This compassionate mindset humanized the situation for everyone involved, opening the door for meaningful dialogue and growth. 

Judgment stems from a lack of awareness and by facing insensitive remarks with compassion versus bitterness, we allow connection to grow across divisions and help us better understand the best in others’ intentions rather than assuming the worst.

BRINGING LIGHT THROUGH LIVING OUR GIFTS

Tate’s life embodies the awareness that we all have divine potential regardless of perceived strengths or limitations. He notes his steadfast belief that “God does not make mistakes” in granting souls specific traits and experiences. Rather than dwell on suffering, Tate views those entrusted with special abilities as blessing the world “with more light…and less darkness, more joy…and less sadness.” 

By fully embracing his own talents and passions, Tate has brought tremendous light to communities in Idaho through teaching and educational leadership. Never defined by obstacles, Tate allowed his special abilities to fuel purpose and service. 

Progress emerges not only through changed laws and policies, but transformed hearts and minds. Tate Castleton’s journey inspires us to look beyond labels into shared hopes and struggles. Everyone has divine potential especially those entrusted with special abilities. 

Let us embrace patience and compassion as guides through discomfort or uncertainty engaging special abilities. Rather than accommodate ignorance with resentment, and hopefully, by doing so, we can respond with love and empathy.

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