I came upon this blog post (What People with Lyme can Learn from the Disability Community) and just need to linger on some statements a moment:
- “People with disabilities are a unique minority, a group that any of us can join at any time.” –this is a fascinating statement. Since my work is in equipping communities to fully include persons with disabilities, and I often find myself in a conversation about fairness to various groups of people, this strikes me is poignant. We can separate ourselves from many groups of people, as we may not look like or behave like them. But at some point in our lives, we will all be part of this group. Testament to the philosophy that everyone’s lives are improved by including persons with disabilities (since everyone will at some point be a person with a disability)!
- “Learning more about the concept of disability helped me understand the limitations that Lyme disease brings with it. This allowed me to advocate for myself and to overcome the belief that my disease meant I could not be successful” –I have a few thoughts on this.
- First, that “successful” needs some defining. Redifining, actually. I am praying daily right now for several people close to me, for whom a “successful life” may never be a viable option. That would be, living independently/alone, working full time with benefits, with the freedom to go where they please in their free time without assistance, and maintain stability in physical health, relationships, location and finances. If that’s success, well, crap. But is it? What is success is rather living in Victory with struggles? Living in Victory with uncertainties, instabilities, in dependence. This is not the fun, the American, or the popular way of living. But this ain’t no Disney princess story. Maybe life is meant to be harder, richer, deeper, and of a different scope. My 96 year old grandfather says he’s had a good life. But he’s still here. IT’s not over yet! My grandmother with dementia feels guilt for not being productive. Other friends and family members are despondent because they “haven’t made it yet” (or made it and lost it). I simply want to say to all: Why do you think you’re here?! Why any of us are here?! And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8). So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God…not seeking [your] own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (I Corinthians 10:23-33) To me, that means, success is bringing glory to God, saving souls, walking humbly with God. If we yet have breath, our job is to praise Him. (Psalm 150:6)
- Advocating for yourself is a huge task, and one that some are better at than others. Support for self-advocacy is such a priceless gift. I know I could not advocate for myself, especially in regards to the battle for diagnosis, treatment, assistance, care, help, without the support network I have. For those who are not so gifted in the area of self-advocacy, with Lyme, or with other disabling conditions, who will stand in the gap? Here is where I believe The Church belongs. How? Again, the answer is simple, if difficult: humbly with God.
- “The limitations that Lyme disease brings with it.” -This phrase packs a punch. Lyme does bring limitations. Understanding disability indeed opens the eyes of a person to accepting the condition this disease brings to the body and mind. Praise be to God, the spirit is untouched by such diseases unless we give up hope and we let evil overtake our spirits with fear. That kind of disease is far more dangerous, devastating and long-lasting. Spiritual warfare deserves far more treatment than any physical condition, in my opinion. I am still living with limitations on my body and mind brought to me by Lyme, though I consider myself to be healed of Lyme. There are permanent weaknesses in my system, which I must be vigilant to take care of if I am to maintain functional health.
- “…you are not defined simply by your symptoms, society may need to change its norms so it can benefit from all that you have to offer, …you are a person first and foremost.” –This phrase too brings me back to the work of CLC Network, pioneering innovative inclusion practices. It also brings me back to how we define ourselves. Lymees (or Lymies, as referred to in the blog post), people with disabilities, and people in general. We are not defined by our collection of symptoms or labels or characteristics (good or bad). We are people, with things to offer to the rest of the world, with praises to offer to our Creator. The more of us that can live from that perspective, the more society will change its norms, and communities will actually benefit from what each person brings. We might just have a shot at seeing “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) -Lord, let it be!