Perhaps the worst part of being disabled is how it separates and ostracizes me from others. Imagine having no depth perception or peripheral vision—and because of that being unable to drive, having difficulty walking on uneven terrain (like beaches and trails), having a real tough time navigating cities and crowds, and being much slower at ordinary daily tasks than others. How strange would that be? Because of a severe traumatic brain injury in 2008, “this” is my reality. I share this, in part, because: “Normal” abilities, privileges, and opportunities we take for granted, can easily become people we don’t see, neglect, or leave out … often without realizing it!
For years I was the “weird” guy awkwardly dragging his cart full of groceries through town. I wonder what people thought of me? In retrospect, it’s fascinating to see how most people and organizations were eager to help and accommodate, while others left me on the outside looking in, so to speak. The ones that hurt the most, and still bring a stabbing pain to my heart when I think about it, are the very few who essentially shamed me for being less able (which likely was really a projection of their own insecurities and hurts). Nearly as bad, and more frequent, though, were those who just ignored my reality and expected me to be able to go places and do things like regular folks can. That, my friends, is a cold and lonely feeling.
Yet, while I’m hoping to raise awareness, I’m also not writing this to be a downer. Something I just had my eyes opened to was how when Jesus healed the lame, disabled, possessed, and ill the biggest gift wasn’t physical or mental restoration, but relational restoration. Then, like now, the biggest curses of being different from the “norm”, whether it’s due to disability, illness, race, or gender, are the ways it leaves you excluded, behind, unseen, unheard, and uncared for.Time and again, though, Jesus brought outsiders back into the communal fold, because flourishing in life is a team activity.
In that light I feel healed, as SO many people regularly go out of their way to ensure I feel seen and wanted, and am included. In that regard, Christ has shown up in my life through more faces than I can count! Truly I feel grateful and blessed, and pray this may help us all see and care for one another in more loving and understanding ways.
Hugs & Love,
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