A few years ago I read a book called Living, Laughing and Loving Life by Dan Miller Dan was struck by polio at the age of 18, right before the vaccine reached the area of Washington where he lived.
One of the comments he made in the book about one of his daughters really caught my attention. One day a letter came addressed to the handicapped/disabled person who lived at that address. His daughter was very puzzled when she came across that letter. She thought it had come to the wrong address because no one like that lived at their house.
Dan was stunned. He was crippled and partially paralyzed and yet his daughter did not view him as disabled. While that might seem strange to most of you, I understood completely. You see, my father was also disabled at a young age. He was 19 years old when it happened. His was due to injury rather than illness but like Dan's children, his state of health was completely normal to me. It simply was the way he was.
In fact, to my young mind, even though I saw otherwise, I believed that fathers could not run. They all had back braces and wore lifts in their shoes. Periodically they would have to use canes or crutches when there was a relapse. All fathers had epileptic seizures both petit mal and grand mal and had to take medications to try to prevent them. If it was a grand mal, you made sure everything was out of the way, including you and hollered for mom. If dad stopped moving before mom got there, you made sure dad was on his side. If dad stared "through you" when you spoke to him you took it in stride. He would go to sleep and be fine when he awakened later. It was simply the way things were.
As I grew older, I became more aware that my dad was not quite like the other dads and yet at the same time, he was. At district church picnics, there would always be a baseball game. Dad didn't go to church but he loved baseball so he was always there. Everyone always wanted him on their team. They fought over him. Sometimes someone would be a designated runner for him but most of the time, there was no need. He would step up to home plate and steady himself. Then,
That ball would fly high above the heads of everyone way out into the field or even into the woods at the end of the outfield. Then as the other team groaned, he would calmly stroll around the bases for you must make the rounds you know in order for it to be legal!
How I loved to go swimming with him. The water would buoy up his weakened muscles and limbs. He had been a swimmer in the navy and once in the water, he could swim further and faster than the other dads. When I was small, I could even ride on his back as he glided through the water. I felt like I was riding Flipper the Dolphin. LOL!
My dad hated words such as disabled or handicapped. He would tell me every single person in this world had some sort of disability or handicap. It was just that some are more noticeable than others. I've thought about that alot over the years and I have to say, I agree with him. We all face challenges/difficulties/obstacles/disadvantages at one time or another. They may vary in type and degree but we all have them. The question is are they going to be in control of us or are we going to let God be in control of us? Are we going to focus on what we cannot do or are we going to invest our energy and attention into what we can do and do it to the best of our ability? Are these things, whether it is illness, injury, education, relationships, socio-econmic status and so on, going to be a disability in our lives which prevent us from living the life God intends us to live or are they going to be challenges for us to overcome through Christ Jesus?
I know what my answer is, how about you?