“What is one gift that disability, in any way, shape, or form brought into your life?” This is a question I read in a blog post tonight of a friend I once wrote a guest blog for. She writes on having a daughter with Down Syndrome. I couldn’t help but stop when I read this.
Disability has brought a lot of things into my life, most of them unwanted. Pain in my legs, discomfort, weakness, the inability to move, insecurity, loss, exclusion, low self-esteem, rejection, loneliness, to name a few. But as I pondered more upon this, I knew I had many positive answers because I am happy, so there must be gifts.
Disability brought faith into my life. And I learned that faith can make the impossible possible! I have seen it work in my own life. I grew up with a big difference, since my accident happened at sixteen. I overcame a lot. For people twenty-one to sixty-four with no disability, the likelihood of getting a job is 82.1%. For people twenty-one to sixty-four with a severe disability, the likelihood of getting a job drops to 26.1%. Most injuries occur between the ages of sixteen and thirty, when people are at the peak of beginning their careers.
I was sixteen when I was severely injured but at thirty-four, I’m employed. I work as a teacher, and manage my own classrooms. I pay my own bills, and take care of myself. That is a blessing. With this economy, not all able-bodied people are able to do that. I’ve accomplished that through my faith.
Firstly though, I’m walking. I’m walking everywhere with two forearm crutches, and practicing with one cane. I’ve accomplished that through my faith! There are many things I’ve accomplished though my faith. And I have so much of it!
Disability is a condition, it’s not who we are. Diagnosis is a prediction. It doesn’t have to determine our outcome.
Oscar Pistorius holds one of the fastest running times in the 400 meter sprint in the world. He’s a favorite to qualify for the Olympic team for South Africa. The opening ceremony is just 45 days away.
He’s a double leg amputee since childhood, because of a rare condition he was born with. He says, “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” I can relate to this. Disability made me work harder, disability made me do more. Disability made me more able. Can disability make you more able? I think sometimes it can, if you have something to prove to yourself.
Oscar brings to mind two Bible verses I treasure:
“He makes my feet like the feet of deer…” (Psalm 18:33)
“For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29)