To the woman at church who wrote me an anonymous letter
I was saddened by your letter.
I wish you had had the courage to use your name so I could help you understand the truth. I can only hope that someone you know shares this post and you see it.
I came to your church to talk about God’s love for His children. You didn’t hear me.
Instead, you wrote “you have no place in a house of God, as your sins are revealed by your many facial tics”.
I am, no doubt, a sinner.
But the tics you saw on my face were not from sin.
They come from a neurological disorder called Tourette’s Syndrome.
I was born this way. I cannot stop them.
Sadly, as a boy, I would have believed you.
I was only 8-years-old when my first tic started. My mother told me to stop.
I felt guilty for disobeying her.
As a 9-year-old I thought that if I was good enough and had faith, I could be cured of my tics. But they wouldn’t go away.
I thought I must be bad.
That year my family moved. The children on the school bus noticed my tics. One called me a “freak”. As I got off the bus they surrounded me. I was ticking not because I was a sinner but because I was afraid and embarrassed.
Your letter reminded me a little of that day.
Only I am no longer that helpless little boy. I now know that there are hundreds of thousands of us with behavioral disorders. And what people like you say doesn’t affect me anymore.
I have a beautiful life, a beautiful family and home. I have seen the world. I have danced in the White House and spoken to audiences of thousands. Millions of people have read my books. I have built shelters for abused children.
And I still tic.
Sometimes when I tic, my wife will set her hand on my cheek and ask if I’m okay.
It’s very sweet.
My children don’t even notice my tics. They only see the father who loves them.
I must admit that I was angered by your letter. I am angry for those children who are teased and bullied by people like you.
… sweet, innocent children, who would rather die than show their tics. And some of them do take their precious lives.
Yes, this makes me very angry.
I hope you read this letter. I hope it opens your eyes. Or, better yet, your heart.
But whether you change or not, remember this: We, the “freaks” are not the ones to be pitied.
The greatest disability is the inability to love those who are different than you.
May God Bless you with His unfathomable and unconditional love.
Your flawed servant,
Richard Paul Evans
#1 New York Times bestselling author…and a man with Tourettes Syndrome.
Richard Paul Evans is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 30 books