Being a wife, author and pregnant mother of a toddler would be stressful enough if Sarah Kovac didn’t have to add Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita to that list. AMC, a condition that Kovac was born with, causes joints to be crooked or out of whack at birth. For Kovac, this directly affected the use of her arms and hands, making them barely usable in her day to day life. So Kovac had to improvise and learn to train her feet to act as her hands, a process that took years for her to learn to do. Kovac is realistic though. She knows that there are still things she can’t do, the list of things she can do greatly outweighs the list of things she can’t.
“Do what you can,” Kovac said. “I can’t do everything. In fact, there are many things I cannot do. But why focus on those when there are so many things I can do? Sometimes we have to just start with baby steps and see how far they take us.”
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that Kovac decided to put her story to words. After she won a scholarship to attend a writers and speakers conference in North Carolina in 2011, she fell into the idea of being an author when she ended up signing up for a meeting with a literary agent. To prepare for the meeting, she had to write a formal proposal for her book as well as a couple sample chapters, and she only had two weeks to do it. She was overwhelmed, as she had never so much as seen a book proposal before, but after a lot of coaxing from her husband, she decided to go through with it. Not long after that, she was signed and in search of a publisher. After signing with Abingdon Press, she had a mere four months to work up a manuscript, so in the early hours of the morning, when her young son Ethan was still asleep, she wrote the entire book. The book, entitled “In Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by Grace,” will be released on September 17th of this year, which just so happens to be three weeks after the due date of her second child. The book is currently available for preorder through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
“Essentially, in my book I recall one or two experiences from each phase of my life and mull over what we can learn through pain, how we grieve, how we might find peace with our own imperfection,” Kovac said. “I will never be everything I’d like to be for my family, never the perfect wife or mom. But my faith in God gives me space to put my trust in His providence when I fail so miserably. To sum it up, my life and my family rest in God’s arms, not mine.”
It is Kovac’s faith that has pulled her through even her darkest days, like the ones where her differences overwhelm her, where she wakes up not feeling so positive about her disability, when life feels too heavy to bear. It is on those days that she lets herself feel every emotion. She cries, she doodles, she writes on her blog. She uses her struggle to inspire others, and ultimately, to inspire herself.
“Struggle is not a four letter word. In this day when we’re so used to instant everything, struggle is sort of a foreign and scary idea,” Kovac said. “But, as painful as it is, struggle will not kill you. Struggle presents you with an opportunity to grow, to be stronger than you would have been if life was easy. Everyone loves the view from the mountaintop. But it’s down in the valley, in the rain and mud, where stuff really grows. Good will come of your struggle, if you let it. Don’t claw out of it too fast.”
Struggle or not, Kovac knows that her lifestyle is not ideal. There are things she wishes she could do that she will probably never be able to do, and if she had the choice of taking her disability away, she doesn’t mince words in saying what she’d choose.
“My disability has been a source of blessing for me and others, and I am very, very thankful that that’s the case. But this is not how a body is meant to function,” Kovac said. “Arms are meant for cradling babies, big hugs, helping friends move, playing volleyball, swatting away mosquitoes. My feet can only help with so much of that, and really, feet are a poor replacement for hands. The way I’ve adapted isn’t easy on my body, and I worry about the effects as I age. This is my reality, and I choose to be thankful for it, but this disability is a burden I would not bear, if I had the choice. The fact that so much good has come from my struggle makes it much easier to deal with.”
Even more of that good is about to pour out into the world when readers get their hands on Kovac’s book. Penning her life has been a therapeutic process for her, one that she could have never accomplished without the support of her husband Adam, family, and close friends. Her story is as difficult to tell as it is important to hear, and it’s a story that she feels is worth telling.
“Many people have told me that they’ve never seen anyone do life the way I do it,” Kovac said. “But while they’re reading my book, being intrigued by my differentness, it’s my goal to show the reader that no person is that different from anyone else. Joy is joy. Desire is desire. Pain is pain. Across the spectrum of humanity, we feel life the same. The parts of us that make us human are no different in me than they are in my reader. I laugh and cry like everyone else. So more than anything, I want to connect with people through my story. I want to meet with them in those difficult moments and grieve together. I want to show them that they don’t have to try to be someone else. Beauty is here, in this imperfect moment, to be experienced by our imperfect selves.”