I have overcome my disabilities through Jesus’ victory over the cross.
It took years for me to adjust to my new life. Paralyzed from my shoulders down with minimal use of my arms, I sat in a large black power wheelchair and stood out in a crowd. People stared and I often overheard them talking about me. “What’s she doing here?” “What does she want?” “She can’t sit there.” Many said they were sorry I had to be in a wheelchair while still others yelled at me as if I couldn’t hear. Most people just walked around me. In my pain, I withdrew and hid behind veiled eyes.
Until one day, someone asked me to teach a Sunday school class. I didn’t want to do it, but God wouldn’t let me go. I accepted knowing He would be my strength. That single invitation gave me the courage to step out of my uncomfortable-comfort zone and speak up about the healing love of God’s presence in my life. My disability opened many doors for ministry; the wheelchair however, couldn’t go through all of them.
I remember the first person I saw in a wheelchair. I was at the doctor’s office for my kindergarten physical. Who was in the chair? The doctor. (Polio) Then there was Dale, a young man who slobbered and walked funny. He taught me to dance the two-step. (Cerebral Palsy) I didn’t know the diseases nor did I know they were disabled. They were my friends.
In seventeen years as a nurse, I saw a multitude of persons with physical disabilities. Some had accepted their disability and functioned well in society, like my childhood friends. Others hadn’t. They were angry and depressed.
In 1991, an automobile accident injured my spinal cord paralyzing me from my neck down. Three months into an ICU stay, my neurosurgeon spoke to my husband. “Earl, she’ll be bedridden, ventilator-dependent, and a vegetable. You’re too young to be saddled with an invalid wife. We can let her die comfortably.”
Earl refused and arranged my transfer to a spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Once stable, off the ventilator, and using a power wheelchair I went to the gym. My neighbors and I shared our stories. We were alike.
Back home no one was like me. Strangers and friends petted me and called me a “poor thing.” Many ignored my injury, as if it would go away, or ignored me, hoping I’d go away. I became angry and bitter.
After years of struggling with the reality that I wasn’t going to be healed, and studying God’s Word, I learned that He didn’t call me to be an invalid. He called me to be Christ-centered and bold in my faith as I shared what He had done for me.
Henri J. M. Nouwen called this type of ministry “The Wounded Healer.” Steve Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine at Asbury Seminary, and author of “Wounds That Heal,” told me years ago, “His wounds have healed you. Now he’s using your wounds to heal others.”
Peter said it this way: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another” (1 Peter 4:10).
As we strive to reflect Gods nature, others will see God’s love in us.
In Christ Alone,