Jun 25, 2020
How God uses silly socks to make you smile
What do socks have to do with chronic illness? I wondered the same thing when I met Jessica Baird at The Sock Project booth. Her big smile was inviting, along with her generous spirit. She told me she wanted to encourage people who live with chronic illnesses by giving them something to smile about, and silly socks seem to do the trick.
Jessica gave me a pair of silly socks and told me how The Sock Project began.
Three years ago she was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Her life changed immensely; Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically of course, because the things she once could do are now challenging. Fatigue and joint pain caused her to leave her teaching position and focus on her health.
Hearing the words of the doctors was emotionally and spiritually challenging for Jessica. She learned that the condition (AS) is degenerative, meaning it will progressively get worse over time. It was upsetting to hear this.
However, it has changed her perspective on life. "I felt very lost, suddenly being diagnosed with this illness and having to leave my teaching job. I thought to myself one day, I need God to step in.”
One of Jessica's friends was empathetic towards her condition: with all the many doctor's appointments, medication trials and learning to live with her new normal. She encouraged her to wear silly socks to her next appointment, just to make her smile. Jessica did just that. Then, when friends on Facebook asked how they could help her during this challenging time, she told them to send her silly socks. They did. She received hundreds of socks in the mail with encouraging notes, which made her very happy.
One day she looked at her pile of silly socks and wondered what she could do with them. Maybe she could share them with others who were suffering with chronic illnesses. That's when The Sock Project was born. Jessica felt like God was opening a door for her, a way through her pain into a ministry of service.
Jessica reaches out to people all across Canada and the U.S. who suffer from auto-immune diseases like herself. She sends them packages with handwritten notes and silly socks to brighten their day. Jessica understands what it is like to live with an invisible disease that dictates how much one can and cannot day on any given day.
"I strongly believe that The Sock Project is a ministry and I am a disciple of Christ. I am here on earth to hear other people’s stories and I am “called” to step in to help. My ministry “heals” others with socks through the power of a community that understands the challenges of chronic illness."
God keeps opening doors for her to walk through and her ministry is growing daily. She has partnered with a company to send hand sanitizer along with her socks to keep people safe during COVID-19. She has partnered with the Imagine Dragons, Roo Socks and has been on TVO - kids television - sharing her story. And, most recently, a children's book has been written to help children understand what it is like living with a chronic illness.
Here's what one of the recipients of her socks writes back:
"Well, Jess, you managed to brighten my day once again! I love how creatively and lovingly you bring awareness to AS and chronic illness while putting a smile on peoples faces all over Canada! Thank you so much for the gift, it definitely cheered my son up and put a smile on my face too! You are an amazing soul!"