May 20, 2008

Impairment and Spirituality

Disclaimer: Normally I'm not much of a preacher, unless someone asks. Ryn asked :P I also apologize if it is excessively rambling.

Before I am anything else, I am a disciple of Christ. When I lost my memories and personality and my brain blew up for almost a year, I was a different person in almost every way. I forgot my friends, barely remembered my family, changed from outgoing to shy, lost my pride, lost myself. The one thing I did not lose, one of the few constants in my life at that time was his presence in my life, and my faith in him. I was not as mature a christian, I was more prickly and easier offended about my faith, but that faith never left me.

My belief in God is the lense I see the world through, it is the deepest and most immovable part of me. One of the few things that is understood about my disabilities from a medical perspective is that there is a lot of congenital involvement. Thus, to be consistent in my beliefs, I cannot come to any conclusion other than this:

God created me knowing I would be a crip.

That conclusion, which looks so simple written down, took me a decade to work through. The implications were huge, and accepting it was difficult. I tried to forget it, ignore it, deny it, but I cannot. If I believe that God is the omniscient creator of every human being, that we are fearfully and wonderfully and individually made, then God made me. He made me knowing what he was making, what would happen, and with a purpose in mind. He knew what my life would be like, and saw worth and value in it.

Some folks who have claimed to share my faith have claimed that disability is the result of sin, using sin as a word for individual misbehavior and tradition breaking. I vehemently disagree with both their conclusions and definition of sin. People aren't born disabled because of a sinful last life. We aren't bearing the misdeeds of mom or dad, nor are we being punished for what we might have done otherwise. Living a virtous life cannot save you or your children from impairment. We are simply affected, as all creatures are in one way or another, by the darkness that has taken root in both the physical and spiritual manifestations of the world.

I am not any more broken than the world I was born into. Sin is real, and its effects are evident everywhere in the corruption and entropy of our world. Huge regions of the world with no potable water are a sign of it, just as surely as the lack of caring for the people who live there by those who don't. As a people, we try to distract ourselves from the suffering around us, we blame the victims for being "lazy", we selfishly try to hold on to however much we can get, we discount the value of others. We try our best to prosper, heedless to the cost of other human's lives. Dehumanization is rampant, because without it the masses can't feel good about their lifestyle. All the while, the news anchors treat stories about thousands of Iraqis dying under occupation with the same brevity as stories about the local prom queen being arrested for scanty clothing. The world is broken.

People are born as parts of this broken world. We are born seperated from God, mired in this world, in darkness. No one makes a big deal about this congenital spiritual impairment, just as no one rants about humanity's lack of ability to fly: it is the norm. Physical and mental impairments are to be fought, resisted, driven out, but spiritual impairments are "best dealt with privately". Christ had different priorities. In fact, when he was walking this earth he healed physical and mental impairments as mere lead up miracles, to show the concept. The real work was giving a way for people to be healed of their spiritual impairment.

So where does that leave me? I've devoted myself to God, and he thinks spiritual healing is more important than physical healing. I have accepted that, and more than accepted that: I am beginning to understand. The love for my fellows (even when accompanied by grief and sorrow), empathy, patience, grace, faithfulness, and joy that he has filled me with over the years are better than hearing and walking. Society says I am the broken one, the sufferer, survivor of tragedy. I think it's the other way around. Society fears and others us because we visibly show how broken it's world really is, and force it to deal with the problems it would rather ignore.


Disgruntled Ladye said...

God created me knowing I would be a crip.

Hard to wrap the head and the heart and the spirit around... I'm on that path right now. Thank you for sharing.

Blog [with]tv said...

I attended a Memorial Service of a 20-year old who had died suddenly and I'll never forget the Minister's comment as he tried to explain "why". He said "God put us here on this earth but God does not micromanage our lives..."

How true. Your post reminded me of that. Thank you.

Kristi Marie Gott said...

I love the honesty and great writing in this post, as in your others. You have so much to give, so much wisdom and insight. Thank you for writing. Take care and bes wishes, Kristi

Lynn Rickert said...

Your comments are quite profound.

My ten year old daughter, En, is a "crip" and I agree that she is evidence to others that the world is a broken place. God wants us to remember this!

So we have beautiful reminders like you, and my daughter. En has forced me to see that simplicity and living in the "now" is the way the Lord designed us.

You sound courageous. You also sound like you'd be fun to have a conversation with - I think I hear some humor in you. ?

I hope you keep writing. You are encouraging to me and no doubt others.

Ens Mom
Pedaling Backwards

Lori Laws said...

Hi Tokah! I have HSP and found your blog through one of HSP's forums. I am a follower of Jesus Christ also, and absolutely love this post...

"My belief in God is the lense I see the world through, it is the deepest and most immovable part of me."

That is the message I try to get across, but there are so many who resist this truth! Anyway, love everything you've written here. I hope you get this message, as I would be so honored to meet you :0 Please visit my blog and "friend me" on Facebook :) Blessings, Lori Laws

Lori Laws said...

Hi Tokah, I have HSP and found your blog through an HSP forum. I also am a follower of Jesus Christ. I love what I have read so far on your blog! I hope you get this message, as it would be an honor to meet you online :) Please visit my blog and "friend" me on Facebook :)