Monday, January 21, 2013

"No matter what I do, I can't change the fact that I'm handicapped.  
But I can change the way I react to it"
-- Dr. Alan Lefever

We had a guest preacher today in church.  He was having trouble with one of his hands, and eventually he started to talk about it.  He said he suffered a stroke as an infant and it left him deformed.  Up until this point he was talking about how we all run a race in life, how we are all part of the body of Christ, and how as the church we need to lift each other up.  

One of the most important musical influences on my life was a middle school band teacher of mine.  She taught me the flute, a love for making music, and always encouraged me, even when I quit band for choir in 8th grade.  Unfortunately she passed away from cancer during my freshman year of high school.  One of the many things she taught me when she was my teacher was that you are only as strong as your weakest member.  She spoke of this in context to band, but today when I was listening to this sermon, I couldn't help but think of this as well.

So yes, as Christians we are to help those who are hurting.  One thing that Dr. Lefever said that I thought was particularly powerful was that as Christians we should not just talk about the hurting, but talk to the hurting and to help them through that.  So often as Christians it's easier to do the other thing.  It's hard to see the pain that someone is hiding.

It is always exhilarating for me to see people who have been able to overcome their physical limitations.  I guess for everyone it is in some way.  Seeing people overcome those limitations serves as a role model for how we can overcome little things that are thrown our way.

But for me, it hits close to home.  See I am physically handicapped.  I was born with clubbed feet, and thanks be to God I was fortunate to be born into a family that could afford the medical care so that I could have surgery on my feet when I was an infant and to be able to run and play and dance today.  I still have side effects though.  I can't really go on my toes at all, my feet are super flat, my calves are tiny, and my feet get worn out very easy.  People think that this is a big deal... but really, most of my friends don't know unless I tell them or if they happen to glance at the scars up and down my ankles.

I think this is what has helped me in life.  When you have a disability, you know nothing else.  It is the way life is, and you learn that nothing you can ever do will change that.  I remember telling people about my feet in elementary school, or telling my ballet teachers so they wouldn't get on my case about not being able to go into a perfect releve.  I knew that I was never going to be a dancer, or really an athlete of any kind.  And that was just something that I accepted.  It is what I know.

A few years ago I randomly lost all my hearing in one of my ears.  This was difficult, but over time I adjusted.  And I really do believe that knowing how to react to difficulties from when I was young helped me to have an optimistic view of my ear problems.  There are certain times when I talk about it more: such as conversation in a busy area, or dinner with a group of friends.  However, my disabilities aren't who I am.  Sure they are important to who I am in forming me into that person, but they do not decide who I am.

I guess I could let them decide who I am... but what's the fun in that?

If we're only the sum of our parts, then we are only the sum of the parts of our spiritual body as well.  And because of that, we all need each other.  We need to pull up others that are hurting.  And I am fortunate in that I have overcame things just by living the life God gave me, that will hopefully help me to relate to people down the road.

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