Published 11:44 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

by Lynnora Sumblin

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) as well as National Stress Awareness Month. In honor of those who have struggled with any kind of disability, this article is to encourage your triumphs and mark your journey with hope and dignity. As an individual with a disability and who is also a Christian, I have embraced my faith through my challenges. As Paul states in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus which strengthens me.”

Disability is defined as lack of ability or power. One is commonly viewed as less than normal or somewhat inadequate if they possess a disability.

However, for me personally, my “disABILITY not “inABILITY,”  has come to help mold the person I have become. As an honor graduate of Hampton University in 1989, bursting with goals and dreams of a bright certain future, I found myself for the first time in a mental institution in October of 1989, only to cycle in and out over the next 10 years of my young life. After secretly struggling with being a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and struggled with the vicious cycles of mania throughout those early years. I had to educated myself about the illness and overcome my own bias that I had toward people who were mentally ill. I have learned that to be mentally ill is not to be mentally incompetent. I am now in recovery, and have learned to accept the responsibility for my health and healing.

Yes, I have a disability but it is not an inability. I have the ability to dream new dreams and accomplish new goals. My life is an example to anyone who is struggling with a challenge. After 19 years of being out of college, I ventured to enter graduate school at Virginia State University, in the Counseling Education Program. In December 2011, I received my Master’s degree in counseling.

Just as I have seen success in my life personally, one who has “disABILITIES” is one who is capable of expressing themselves as effective and competent in all capacities of life. This individual is passionate and driven with purpose. Their character reveals the very essence of excellence and they strive to be independent; physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. In this effort they are able to be productive members of society and not outcasts or second-class citizens.

On the other hand, one who has “inABILITIES,” fails to see themselves mentally as being able or capable of accomplishing anything of substance. Therefore, they succumb to the concept that they are indeed less and inadequate. I know from personal experience with Christ there is nothing you can’t do. Especially in the 21st century with the age of the computer and other advancements that are available.

I was inspired to write my autobiography, “My Stolen Innocence, A Survivor’s Testimony of God’s Deliverance” from fear, shame and worry as a victim of improper sexual behavior. I am an overcomer; a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and the social and behavioral impact that burden victims later in life. The second edition of “My Stollen Innocence” allows my story to minister to many others inside and outside the church, and is a true roadmap to recovery.

Today, I am a licensed and ordained Evangelist, counselor, designer, entrepreneur and the founder/director of Everdelighting Advocacy Center Inc., a nonprofit counseling agency. Our vision is to assist individuals who are struggling with sexual abuse or mental illness, through advocacy, empowerment, and education; thereby helping them transition from a victim to victor mentality.

The Life Application Bible records  Philippians 4:13, “For I can do everything God asks me with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” I am not defined by Bipolar Disorder. I implore individuals living with disabilities to realize their capacity to enjoy the freedoms of independence that life has to offer, recognizing their unique “disABILITIES, not inABILITIES.”

For book oders, call 742-2391; email:everdelightlynnora@aol.com. “My Stolen Innocence” is available online at Amazon.com as an ebook and printed trade paperback. It may be purchased locally at the following locations: First Baptist Church; Fred’s Restaurant; Southampton Memorial Hospital Gift Shop; Unique Unlimited; and Mackans Office Supply and Printing. You may also make check or money order payable to Lynnora Sumblin, $15 plus $4 (shipping) and mail to P.O. Box 38, Franklin, Virginia 23851.

LYNNORA SUMBLIN is the daughter of Earva Lee Jones Sumblin and the late Freddie D. Sumblin of Franklin, Virginia. Lynnora is the oldest of three siblings born to this union, including Douglas (deceased) and Angel. She is the proud mother of Justin Coybern Sumblin, who she admits is her greatest accomplishment.