Brad has served at Elim for almost three decades, and like many of us, he never expected to be here for very long. Something about Elim, though, draws you in.
Also, like a lot of us, Brad started out wishing for a better life for those we serve. After all, life with disabilities seems like a grim prospect, and you at least wonder if there’s the possibility that something more could be done with their lives if only they weren’t disabled.
So it happened that Brad would find himself praying for healing, not for himself, but for the adults with disabilities to whom he tended each day. One day, he was in the middle of this prayer, when Liz began to sing, out loud, a hymn she had learned in her church.
At the very same moment that Brad was praying that God would heal Liz so that His power might be revealed in her life, God revealed His power, not by healing her, but by simply using her gifts to draw others to Him, to glorify His Name.
Brad had prayed for healing for Liz when God’s priority was to heal Brad of his assumptions and his attitudes about people with disabilities.
When Brad told me this story, he said it was an eye-opener for him, perhaps literally, since he had been praying at the time. But figuratively too. Maybe it was God’s way of showing us that He doesn’t need us to be “normal” to show His love.
I usually think of God in terms of His power, and that’s where a lot of this disability talk gets tripped up. Most of the people I know who have a disability will never have power. But what they often possess and share freely is a love that shames my own expression of this chief characteristic of God.
In what ways do you make assumptions about what people cannot do? Do you focus first on people’s giftedness, or do you focus on their perceived lack of gifts? What are you missing out on by maintaining this attitude about people with disabilities?
For more information on disability attitudes, see The 5 Stages: Changing Attitudes.