In most ways, Daniel Ritchie is a normal man, husband and father. He has the same joys and fears, happiness and struggles. But Daniel is different than most people in one aspect: He was born with no arms.
Daniel tells his story in his upcoming book, My Affliction for His Glory. In it, he uses his life as a lens to view what it looks like to find your identity in Christ.
Daniel, a graduate of the College at Southeastern, lives in Huntersville, NC with his wife of 11 years and two children. He and his family are a part of Christ Community Church, and he gets to travel the country, speaking the gospel at churches, schools and conferences.
Recently we had a chance to talk to Daniel about life, Jesus Christ, adversity and his new book.
There’s a daily war in my heart between believing what God says about my life and what the lies in my heart say.
You make no secret about the fact that you were born with no arms. What challenges did you face as a result of this adversity?
Early on in my life, I had quite a bit of difficulty learning how to do everyday tasks. My parents have both of their arms, so there was no one to teach me how I should hold a spoon between my toes or how I could open a door with my feet. My learning process was trial and error – which meant there was lots of failure in my life in those developmental years of my life.
Now that I am a grown man, adversity comes at me in more subtle and emotional ways. Everywhere I go (gas station, grocery store, restaurants) people will stop and stare at me. On rare occasions, people will fire off rude comments at me because I’m doing something with my feet. In those times I find my heart wanting to succumb to the lie that I am “less than” just because I don’t have arms. There’s a daily war in my heart between believing what God says about my life and what the lies in my heart say.
How has Christ made a difference in your life?
I went to church almost every Sunday when I was a kid, but I was just a moral kid and not a Christian. I submitted to Christ at age 15 after hearing as quick devotion about God’s love. Seeing His love for me even when I was a sinner overwhelmed me. I submitted to Christ as Lord that night.
From that night, everything about my life changed. A life of self-doubt was replaced with a confidence in Christ. I went from being a lone wolf to having a community of believers who I could bear my burdens with. More than anything, I had a purpose now. I had tasted the amazing grace of God and now I had the chance to tell everyone who would listen about God’s gospel.
Surround yourself with people who can walk alongside you and encourage you in the midst of your hurt.
What suggestions would you give to others facing their own adversity?
First off, do not quit. I know that is easy to say and hard to do, but there’s so much beauty that comes on the other side of affliction. As we endure we start to see things about ourselves and about God. We realize that our circumstances do not define us but they don’t define God either. Even in our pain He is still with us and He still reigns over all things.
Second, surround yourself with truth. In the middle of painful seasons it seems like lies begin to fill our hearts and minds. You’re a failure. You should quit. No one loves you. God has abandoned you. Fight those lies with the truth of God’s Word. Memorize verses that tell of God’s character, God’s presence with His children and God’s love for us and then recall those verses to yourself in the midst of your darkness and hurt. Our pain almost always will push us to isolate ourselves, so surround yourself with people who can walk alongside you and encourage you in the midst of your hurt.
We are all tempted to find our worth in something – work, sports, school, a relationship. What have you learned about finding your worth in Christ?
I had spent the first 15 years of my life being defined by what I did not have: arms. God and His grace gave me unshifting value as an adopted son. I didn’t have to depend on what others said about me to gain love and worth. God’s love for me was declared on the Cross and defined in Scripture. I was no longer a prisoner to perception, I am free of shame because of what Christ has done and is doing in my life. Worth in money, possessions and people is always a shifting and fleeting worth. My worth in Christ is promised and perfect. He’s the only One who is meant to build my life on and He has never let me down and He never will.
Why did you decide to write My Affliction for His Glory?
I wrote My Affliction For His Glory because I had a story to tell. While I do recount the struggles and victories I’ve faced in my life, this book is not about me. This book is about God. His gospel. His sustaining grace. His glory put on full display. This book is my chance to tell of God’s greatness displayed by using a broken vessel like me.
Pre-order your copy of My Affliction for His Glory by Daniel Ritchie.