I am mobility challenged. I can walk, but not far and not well. A scooter (aka adult go-kart) is my main transport, and I have one in my car tethered to a boom lift for when I go away from home. There are a few more issues associated with my Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) diagnosis, but I’m not thinking of those as I write this blog entry.
Like many others, I believe, I don’t consider myself disabled or handicapped. There are simply some things that I can’t do any more like run a marathon (okay, I never really did that), cross-country ski, or dance. I miss some of that mobility and being able to do little tasks around the house, but I still function well, especially cognitively. And, most importantly, I can accept my situation with humor. In fact, I've recently won awards for a humorous essay on the subject of living with my M.S.
Since I’m an optimist, I would rather concentrate on what I can do rather than what I cannot. That’s really a secret to happiness for all of us. And one of those things that almost all of us can do is to make things better for those around us. As long as I can still do for others, I am empowered and will never really consider myself disabled or handicapped.
Although my challenges may be obvious to others, and they sometimes express surprise at what I can do, it’s no big deal to me. I accept help when needed, or if it will make someone else happy to do something for me, but I retain my independence. I truly thank God for that.
I know so many who struggle inwardly and no one knows of their challenges, only because these are more difficult to discern than a leg brace or use of mobility equipment. But also I think of those with some of the same issues as mine, both current and noted in the Bible.
I remember the paralyzed man whose friends brought him to meet Jesus and receive healing. How hard that must have been for the lame man to be so dependent upon others (Matthew 9:2). No public transportation, no accessibility, no physical or occupational therapy, and certainly not many others with whom he might identify. Add to that, the Old Testament is full of stories ostracizing the sick and disabled. It wasn’t a good time to be anything but perfectly healthy. Again, I truly thank God for placing me in this world at the present time.
It seems there are a lot more of us with physical challenges these days as evidenced by the prevalence of specially designated handicapped parking. When these were first established, it was common to see almost all were empty, but now it seems difficult to find one at times.
So what does all this mean, especially as the population ages and people live longer, perhaps with bodies that are wearing out and not made to last forever? I’m not sure, but I think God wants us to appreciate who we are, what we have, what we’ve been given, and what we can do. That’s a tall order, but that’s probably the biggest challenge any of us face. And one thing is for certain, He loves us no matter what.