Disabilities affect people of all ages from children with muscular dystrophy and other degenerative diseases, to veterans, stroke victims, survivors of horrific accidents, victims of brain injuries, and the elderly. The list could go on for pages actually….but I think we are missing something, or some people, in the mix.
(Some of you may want to dash off when you see below that I actually talk about Sin and God. Hopefully, you’ll stick around but if not, catch you next time).
I am going way out on a limb here and say that I’d rather be a disabled person than a mean person. That is not to say that there are no mean disabled people; I know that there are. But again, I am speaking mainly to Christians who understand that although we all fall short, we are not to be consistently, habitually, unrepentantly in sin – and being mean is a sin.
1 Peter 3:8-18. Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Ephesians 4:31-32. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
So why would I rather be physically or mentally disabled than mean? Because meanness is a choice. Lack of sight or limb, mental acuity, memory, the ability to walk or talk is not. Meanness is an ugly disease – and for some unfortunate disabled people, their caretakers suffer from it – in spades.
Although, some people with disabilities cannot do what the rest of us so carelessly take for granted, say drive a car, they can be told they are losers for not taking care of family errands. Although they may not be able to navigate a grocery store, they can be chastised for taking too long to do the shopping. Although sight may be gone, disabled people can be criticized for running into people and things. In stores, consumers have stomped, sighed, and leaned dramatically on their shopping baskets while waiting for a disabled person to pay for their goods. A easy enough task for most of us, but for someone mentally or physically challenged, not so simple.
So, what can we do for a disabled person who faces obstacles to everyday activities way beyond our imaginings? Bolster their spirits, for starters.
(We should definitely NOT to be like Tweedledum and Tweedledee who were mean AND selfish when poor Alice was lost and alone in the forest).
Talk to a person with disabilities as you would any other son or daughter of Christ. Gently remind them, if necessary, of yesterday’s events and today’s plans. Take them shopping and extend patience. Include them in outings, family events, local festivals and art shows. Help them use a computer if possible. Invite them on a walk or roll around the neighborhood. Weed an elderly person’s garden, take over a meal, and invite him or her to a holiday gathering at your home. If nothing else, pick up the phone and call them, especially if they are home bound. In other words, show compassion.
What can you do for a mean person? Pray. A lot.
These people have major DISABILITIES. Mean people suffer from lack of love. For whom? For God, for others, and for themselves. Name any sin, and you will find that at the center. Like Alice kept returning to the house she was trying to get away from in “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” you will run into this truth every time. Sin = Lack of Love for God, for Others and for Ourselves.
So my special friends (the word handicapped is intentionally deleted), blessings to those of you in need and who struggle each and every day. May God grant mercy to you and lift your burdens by gracing the rest of us with compassion, love, and charity to assist you. I also pray for relief for those who are unfortunate enough to be in the care of an unloving spouse, partner, parent, sibling or other caretaker.
As a way of encouraging you, and ending on a lighter note….Here are some moments of joy realized by artist and adventurer Sue Austin, a paraplegic, who decided she wanted to go deep scuba diving. (video at end not to be missed 🙂
And remember my dear friends,
Never, never, never give up.