What’s Her Name?

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By Tanya Marlow | Twitter: @Tanya_Marlow

O_Tanya-750

“What’s her name?”

The airport official spoke over my head to my husband and it took me a while before I even registered she was referring to me.

Why doesn’t she just ask me? I wondered. And then it clicked: it’s because of the wheelchair.

Apparently, the wheelchair I sit in signified to the woman that not only do I have mobility problems, but I am incapable of speech. I felt half-offended, half-amused. At such moments I don’t necessarily think holy thoughts. After all, when you’re sitting in a wheelchair, the person standing in front of you has their crotch at prime head-butting height.

* * *

We had just entered the main teaching marquee at the Big Christian Conference, when we were greeted by a frowning usher.

“This is the wrong entrance. You should have come through the front. The disability section is down there.”

We were ushered past the rows where our friends were sitting and into The Disability Section, where anyone with sight, hearing, learning or mobility difficulties was herded into one, safe, contained section, right at the front. I was disabled: I now needed to use a special entrance and sit with the other disabled people.

The last time I was at that conference, I came as a speaker. I was the one at the front, and people had looked me in the eye and asked my opinion on matters of theology. This time, even people who had known me for years didn’t recognise me because I was sitting in a wheelchair, and some found it hard to meet my gaze. My head was swirling with all kinds of losses, but I hadn’t reckoned on this particular loss: not being able to choose where to sit.

I understand that there are difficulties with accommodating the various needs of disabled people in churches and conferences. I know this is about pragmatism and budget. But that moment was a humiliating one. I fought back tears, and as people looked on, I smiled my biggest smile to show how fine I was with it. But as I was pushed into the sparsely populated, dimly-lit seating at the front, I wondered if we would tolerate any other minority group in church being segregated in such a blatant form.

* * *

How does the church respond to people with disabilities? Oftentimes, the same way as everyone else does: Revulsion, or rescue. I call it The Toy Story Effect.

If you recall the film, Woody the Cowboy, our able-bodied toy hero, encounters some gruesome-looking toys he has never seen before, the most frightening of which has a bald doll’s head on top of robotic spider legs. Their heads don’t match their bodies, and they move in jerky and unexpected ways. In other words, they are the disabled members of the toy community.

Initially, Woody recoils in disgust, and tries to protect his friend from being near them. We don’t do this in church, exactly; our Christian equivalent is to politely ignore the chap with Down’s Syndrome, avoid the guy with Tourette’s, or shy away from talking to the woman in the wheelchair who dribbles and slurs her words, because we are worried we won’t understand them, or that we will say the wrong thing, or that we will be stuck talking to them at coffee time. We smile a big smile and move on to talk to our real friends.

The other reaction is conveniently demonstrated by Woody’s subsequent actions. Once he realises they are not the cannibals he suspected them to be, he immediately takes charge. He has a great plan that will rescue them from their oppressive owner. He is their brain, and their saviour, and they, we assume, are grateful, but we don’t know for sure. These “disabled” toys are the only characters in the whole movie not to be given a voice.

Attitudes matter. We need to be careful, so careful, with our offers to pray for healing. That’s often the Christian’s first instinct–to “rescue” the person by praying for their healing. Sometimes this is welcome and helpful, but other times you are just the 100th person to pray for healing and leave, awkward and disinterested, when the healing doesn’t come. We shouldn’t be surprised by the suspicion and weariness in the eyes of the person who has been clinically depressed for twenty years. We are not their messiah.

* * *

When I could still walk a short distance, I often drove to church, looked in vain for a parking space that was near enough, and drove all the way back home without having left the car. For disabled people, “othering” doesn’t just mean feeling uncomfortable or being ignored by people in church, though it certainly includes this. It often means a literal, physical, geographical exclusion.

Buildings matter. Don’t tell me how much you love and include disabled people when you don’t have a ramp or a hearing loop installed in your church.

I can’t stop thinking about the words in Ephesians 2:14: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

It used to be that disabled people, women, non-Jews, non-priests were excluded from the holy of holies, but Jesus’ death and resurrection gloriously destroyed each of those walls designed to keep people out. He obliterated those barriers, and in him we are one.

Love does. Love breaks down walls. Love makes ramps and disabled parking spaces.

Love listens. Love speaks to people as an equal, however different that person is, however uncomfortable we feel, however much we fear saying the wrong thing. Love gives silenced people a voice. Love asks disabled Bible teachers to speak, (and doesn’t just ask them to speak to disabled people about disability.)

Love looks for the ways in which those dividing walls Jesus came to destroy have been subtly rebuilt, smashes them all to smithereens, discovers the person on the other side, and looks her in the eye.

_______________

About Tanya:

Tanya MarlowTanya Marlow was in Christian ministry for a decade and a lecturer in Biblical Theology, until she got sick, and became a writer. She likes answering the tricky questions of faith that most avoid, and writing honestly about suffering and searching for God. She blogs at Thorns and Gold. Find her on Twitter @Tanya_Marlow or Facebook.

_______________

Image credit: musicmang

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  • Bev Murrill

    !!! Tanya, I don’t know your story, but I’m gutted at how it must have felt to be placed into a ‘special section seating’ area. As a speaker myself, I can just feel the humiliation and bizarre sense of unreality that you must have felt. And having been in a wheelchair myself for a short time, and observing that the person pushing me was deemed to be more responsible than me, I totally get what you’re saying.

    It’s hard to understand the sudden losses that come when you’ve lost health, or beauty, or a husband, or career path.. thank God that there is One who is not disconcerted by the sudden diversion of our path of life.

    A real thanks to you for being so transparent on this. It gives so much to think about.

    • “observing that the person pushing me was deemed to be more responsible than me” – crumbs. It’s a really eye-opening experience, isn’t it, being in a wheelchair? I have also been thinking a lot about speakers who are disabled. Do we have them? Do we allow them to speak on anything other than disability? I have recently been hearing of stories where people who are ordained but disabled aren’t being given a job – this is a fairly sad state of affairs. I am glad that we have a God who sees past the outward appearance, and encourages us to do the same. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, Bev – hope to get to know you better!

      • Bev Murrill

        Yeah, I’d love to get to know you! Where are you based? I’ll be in USA next week for a few weeks… and Canada briefly also…

        • I’m in the UK! South West – just to the right of America. 😉

          • Bev Murrill

            I can’t believe that, Tanya! I was living in UK for 18 years until this year and Ive moved back to Australia. I’m coming to UK in April to do some speaking… maybe we could catch up?

          • Ah, I thought you were still in the UK! Well, it probably doesn’t make much difference, because I am pretty much housebound, and only travel ten minutes or so away from home. I do Skype? But if you are around in south Devon in April, it would be lovely to meet you.

          • Bev Murrill

            I’m in Plymouth… is that near Devon? I think it is… or we could skype? I’m in USA right now but we could skype when I’m back home. I’ll facebook friend you and we’ll sort it out… x

  • Very beautiful. Thank you for this powerful reminder – it touched me deeply. May Christ continually give you more grace.

    • Thank you, Ganise, for stopping by here, and for your prayer.

  • Tricia

    My brother is paraplegic. He is not a “wheelchair user” he is dependent on his wheelchair for mobility. A few years ago my brother, sister and I went to a fund-raiser for our local hospice – having lost our Mum and my sister’s husband to cancer, we are staunch supporters of the hospice. We left shortly after the nice lady asked my sister and I whether my brother takes sugar…. he is 6ft 3in when he could stand and so is still quite imposing even in a wheelchair. He also is fiercely independent….
    Thank you Tanya for this thoughtful and challenging piece.

    • “We left shortly after the nice lady asked my sister and I whether my brother takes sugar.” Yikes. I guess it’s not just me, then…!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and for sharing something of your story. Please say hi to your brother for me.

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  • Donna-Jean Brown

    Whew, this was tough to read… and I thank you, Tanya, for writing truth.

    • Thank you so much for reading it – it was also tough to write! 🙂

  • Beautifully written as usual, Tanya. Thank you for giving us your perspective. This ‘rescuing’ of people through prayer is something that really concerns me. I think it can border on the colonial: ‘Let me pray for you because you obviously need to become more like me.’ (Something I may now think of as the Toy Story effect!). I am guilty of it myself and grateful for your gentle but firm challenge. Can I pray for your voice to be amplified?! Because a lot of us need to hear it more. xx

    • ” Can I pray for your voice to be amplified?” – yeah, baby!! Thank you so much for affirming me. The whole prayer thing is really difficult, and you’re right, it can verge on the colonial, depending on how it’s done. I don’t want to remain disabled, but I have met a few whose disability has become such a part of their identity, and they are so accepting of it and the way that God works through it, that they find even the offer of prayer insulting. I really would quite like to stop being disabled and ill, but I find it emotionally very hard to be prayed with, though I like being prayed for (from afar). I really appreciate those who ask if I would like to be prayed with (so that I can say no), and those who accept my no with grace, and not with a ‘well, if you don’t want to get better…’ When we pray for those who are ill, I think it is important to convey that we are here for them whatever the outcome, and they are as fully a receiving and contributing member of church whether they are healed or not. (Thanks for allowing me to expand on this!) We just need to be so careful of our tone and attitude behind our prayers, I think – not that it stops us from ever offering prayer to those with sicknesses or disabilities, but we need to handle it all so tenderly.

      And I LOVE that you are now thinking of that as the Toy Story effect. 🙂
      Grateful for you.

      • Mark Allman

        Tanya,
        Important stuff here in the reply… you should write a post about it sometimes.

        • aha! good idea!

          • rich insights as always, my friend. and i second the motion that there’s a second post here in your reply. the prayer piece is precarious one & can cause pain if wrapped in a performance package (meaning from a world view that sees value based solely on contribution). i’ve missed you! sending hugs across the ocean tonight/today.

  • You are amazing. I love your words, even (especially?) when they’re hard.

  • What an important conversation you have introduced, Tanya. One that needs repetition until all our hearts of stone begin to surge with the heartbeat that indicates they have finally become flesh. … Perhaps you weren’t a speaker at this particular conference, friend, but I daresay you’ve dropped the mic here. So very well done.

    • “I daresay you’ve dropped the mic here” – this made me smile 🙂 Thanks, lovely friend – I really appreciate your encouragement.

  • Tanya this is so important, thank you for sharing. Plus, I learned something new! I’m the mother of a child who is hard of hearing and I had not heard of the hearing loop system, now I’m very interested in it and finding out if my church could have it installed in our worship areas, so that she can hear what’s going on a little better, not to mention whether or not her school system should put them in the schools so that kids with hearing aids can hear the PA system more clearly! Keep smashing those barriers!

    • Judy

      If your child has an IEP you could ask for a FM System. Might need an audiological evaluation to get it.

      • Thanks, Judy!

      • Yes, she does use one of those, but it only helps her hear her teacher. She can’t hear announcements, assemblies, etc. because only her classroom teachers use the FM. I think the loop would be helpful if multiple kids in school have HAs and need to hear the same thing at once. Hope that clears up what I meant!

    • Oo! So glad to know this was helpful to you! Really hope that your school and church can improve things for your daughter – I imagine that it can be tremendously isolating to have a hearing impairment. I’m so glad you stopped by here today!

  • Tanya, this is brilliant. This is so important. Your words and voice here have spoken to my heart, into some ragged areas. My daughter is sick and thus disabled, so going to church is a FEAT. A disabled child? Oh the looks. And the germs. So we stay home, but I miss it.
    Thank you for writing this so eloquently and without bitterness. It’s perfect.

    • Oh Man. I ache for you. I am also sick and thus disabled, and can no longer go to church, but my mother’s heart just aches and aches that it is your daughter who is affected. I really feel you on this. And find myself riled and saddened – the looks. This should not be. Solidarity, sister.

  • Katie Andraski

    Thank you for making me see you and hear you. Are you aware of Rachel Simon’s Riding the Bus with My Sister or Story of Beautiful Girl? These books also sensitized me to how disabled people are “other”.

    • Thanks so much for recommending these books! I am now following Rachel Simon on Twitter, and these books are on my ‘to read’ list. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read – I really appreciate it.

      • Katie Andraski

        Hey you’re welcome. Look Rachel up on Facebook too. She’s busy these days but very approachable. Feel free to use my name as we’re pretty good friends.

  • Sam

    Thankyou for sharing this & making us consider how we treat minority groups in our churches. As a church we have have much to learn about being a loving inclusive family. Thankyou

    • Thanks so much, Sam for stopping by and reading.

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Your post really challenged me about how unconscious I have been to The challenges faced by people who live with physical disabilities. Thank you for opening my eyes to the lived reality of so many people. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I especially appreciate your challenge: Love makes ramps and disabled bays. Bless you Tanya.

    • Anne-Marie

      I’m with Nicole. So much to learn in your post. Thank you for graciously opening my eyes. And the ‘rescue’ thing – I’ve been seeing that in myself. Very good to be aware and wary of that. I’ll see the next person in a wheelchair with very different eyes. Thank you so much for this lovely psot.

      • Thank you, Anne-Marie! “I’ll see the next person in a wheelchair with very different eyes” – this makes my day, pretty much. Thanks so much for listening – it is powerful to me to be heard.

    • This makes me very, very happy. It reminds me how powerful it is simply to describe our experience, to tell our story, because no person is the same. Thank you so much for affirming my vulnerability, too – this did feel like a peculiarly vulnerable one. Thanks so much!

  • I love this a thousand times over. Thank you SO much for getting this othering out there. Yes yes and yes!

    • Yay! I’m so glad. Sometimes disability is left on the outskirts, the not-so-cool-kid of othering. I’m glad that She Loves has a bigger vision. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!

  • This is so good, Tanya. Way to speak truth!

    • Thank you so much, Sarah! This means so much to me. Thanks for all the ways you cheer me on.

  • Mark Allman

    Tanya,

    I laughed at your comment “their crotch at prime head-butting height”

    I do want you to know this Tanya. When I think of you or see your picture or read your blog I never ever think “she’s disabled”. Never. Never. Ever. I think of you are one of the most ablest persons I know. You are a top shelf person. I do recognize that you are not able to do some things that you wish you could do and things I wish you could do. I know you suffer not only from the pain of your illness but from the pain of how you are treated in that illness.

    I think we should provide people with means to deal with whatever limitations they may have but we do not need to do so in a way that excludes them; that makes them feel less worthy. We should ask for input to get it right.

    One of my most valued conversations with a stranger occurred in an airport recently when I was traveling on business. I was walking next to a woman that others seemed to be shying away from. I said hello to her and she said hi to me. We had a great conversation and hit it off as friends right away. She was a very successful business woman with a family I could tell she loved and loved her. I never thought of her as disabled although she had braces on her legs and struggled as she walked. I don’t know what was wrong because it never came up. I was glad it did not for she commented that not often did she get to talk with someone and make friends so easily. I feel fortunate to have had a conversation with her. I think this reinforced with me that we need to quit looking at people with our eyes and instead look at them with our heart.

    In your airport incident I think the person who had the most limitations was the airport official….. by far.

    • Thanks for laughing with me at the appropriate points! I think your story illustrates how we ought to view people who are disabled – ie as people! It seems ludicrous that we even have to state it, but it is somehow helpful to remind ourselves of that. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Mark – much appreciated.

  • Melinda Cadwallader

    Your words are stunning. Thank you!!

    • Oh Melinda – thank you. You are most kind. 🙂

  • Beautiful and powerful, friend. I’m proud of you. So good to see you writing over here, too!

    • Thank you, Leigh! I know, crazy isn’t it! It was quite the She Loves debut. Thank you so much for all the ways you encourage me. You are all kinds of awesome.

  • Caiobhe

    Thank you my coherent, persuasive, honest, Godly friend. Thank you for not shying away from addressing this topic. Thank you for allowing yourself to be the ‘other’ in this post. I don’t even know the words I’m wanting to express what I’m feeling about this. there is an ache and tears and frustration and hope. I hate the assumptions that are made and the lack of understanding, and the exceptionalism which is applied. We are all the same. Love looks each other in the eye. Let’s do it.

    • Thanks for always looking me in the eye, friend.

  • Jonathan

    Thank you for writing this Tanya. So powerful, and I know that I needed to hear it.

    • Thank you so much for coming by, and for listening. It’s much appreciated!

  • Stephanie

    I always find your writing to be powerful, but this piece hit especially hard. I suppose because I had my first wheelchair experience in August and every bit of this rings true. “I fought back tears, and as people looked on, I smiled my biggest smile to show how fine I was with it.” – oh my word…yes.

    So often we just don’t know, if it hasn’t been our experience or that of a close friend or loved one. I’ve done the same things. Posts like this help us all identify issues and attitudes that need to change. Thank you for presenting it so beautifully, Tanya.

    • Oh Stephanie – I ache for you. All the losses.
      I’m so glad this piece gave voice to your experience, too.
      “So often we just don’t know” – I think you’re right. This has reminded me, with astonishment, just how powerful it can be to share your experience. I forget how most people don’t know what it’s like. I hope this also gives you courage to share your story, too – it has power. Even the few words you wrote above affected me deeply. Sending much love.

  • This is so challenging, Tanya. Thank you for sharing your lived experience so boldly and speaking the Truth: “Love breaks down walls. Love makes ramps and disabled parking spaces.” AMEN. <3

    • Thank you so much, lovely Bethany! I’m so thankful you came by today.

  • Dear Tanya,

    I’ve been hovering over the post all day and just realized I haven’t actually commented! So sorry … ! Thank you so so much for sharing your honest truth. Thank you for allowing us into your world and your story … I also definitely had a good chuckle at the crotch comment. 🙂

    Your voice is so important here. I love that this post had wings today.

    xoxo

    • Thank you Idelette – I am so excited by all this series has accomplished, and the way that it is encouraging better conversations. It has been a privilege to be a part of it. and yes – the wings! the wings were unexpected, but a humbling and exciting bonus. 🙂

  • pastordt

    BEAUTIFULLY said, Tanya. And right on target. Thank you so much.

  • Late to the party :), sorry! This brought up many memories and stirred much in me.

    1. In high school I worked at Wendy’s and remember asking a woman if she wanted cheese on her hamburger and she turned to her boyfriend and said, “No.” Which he then turned and told me, “No.” HELLO, I’m right here, I can hear her! Why was she not engaging for herself? And that’s a very loaded question I clearly don’t know. But it stuck with me all these years.

    2. Last year before my dad died we were able to move him and one other down to the handicapped seats at a football game, enabling him to attend. They were really great seats and the organization was lovely about it. But after years of being “with the masses” it WAS a bit dull to cheer with just the one or two to the right or left.

    3. My mom leaves every Sunday much earlier than she needs for church to be sure she gets a parking spot. As she ages, her greatest concern and point of anxiety is parking. This saddens and enlightens me.

    4. One of my best friend’s is legally blind. The two years we were roommates before I moved to China were THE. BEST. EVER! She is so much fun! And one of the parts I grieved over the most leaving was how much my moving would impact her. I felt guilty that I had the freedom to go and my leaving would mean she couldn’t go to 6:00 a.m. aerobics because she couldn’t drive herself there. I wish she could see the way she did before her eyes became diseased.

    5. Tanya is cool.

    • Thank you so much for these stories, lovely Amy. The woman who spoke via her boyfriend? That’s so intriguing. That would have stuck with me, too.
      The whole disabled seating at events thing is a mixed bag. on the one hand, like you say, it’s amazing to just be there. And quite often, if Jon takes me, he gets in free as my carer #score. But again – it just reinforces the lack of choice that accompanies disability. Life is that much more limited. I will be thinking of your friend who is legally blind. It’s hard to be dependent on others.

      • Ginny

        Having been in abusive situations, I wonder if the woman was looking to her abuser for approval ie Stockholm Syndrome.

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  • Tanya, you exposed an issue which needs to be positively addressed in buildings and in people’s hearts. Thanks for articulating so well the plight so many “disabled” people feel. My mom was wheelchair bound for thirteen years due to a stroke, and I saw first hand what you refer to as misunderstanding , and even disgust. I really like the way you opened the door to barriers being broken down by Jesus; I hadn’t considered this dynamic in that way. Love does break down walls.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to write this encouraging comment! I’m so sorry that your mom experienced misunderstanding and disgust because of her stroke. It’s good to be reminding people that we are people!

  • Alaina Mazur

    I think Love takes it one step further and calls them “Wheelchair accessible parking spaces or Bathroom stalls” Using the words handicapped and disabled are still part of the wall that needs to come down. I would not want to be identified by my weaknesses and or difference… “Parking for infertile women here.” I believe Love goes further than that. Lets address the person, and not their condition/state. They are human first. The wheelchair is just their mode of transportation.

    • Thanks so much for this comment – I totally get what you are saying. It’s interesting even comparing terminology in the US as opposed to the UK – ‘handicapped’ seems to be used as a term quite freely in the US, whereas it’s pretty offensive in the UK. ‘Disabled’ is used quite freely in the UK as a neutral-ish term, but like you, I wish there were better (and less clumsy) phrases. I found this post on XOJane very interesting on terminology, describing herself as ‘socially disabled’ http://www.xojane.com/issues/i-am-not-a-person-with-a-disability-i-am-a-disabled-person

      • Anyone else dislike the term “handicapable”…? #shudder I hear it a lot in my circles, lately, and it bugs the heck outta me.

        • It might be just me, but I really dislike that term. To me, it suggests a very patronising term.

  • Marion

    Thanks Tanya, a friend of mine posted this blog on her Facebook page. I really appreciate your honesty and openness – it helps to be able to see things through yours and others eyes! I must admit, I was at a disability conference earlier this year, and when it came to seating arrangements, the seating was flexible, so people could sit wherever they wanted – they just needed a couple of extra people to help move chairs out of the way so people could sit with their mates. But it was all done very smoothly and normalised, so that no one felt awkward about ‘messing’ up any seating arrangements. It made me think that this is something we should definitely do in church, rather than segregating people to certain sections.

    Can I just say that the idea of head butting someone in the groin – did kind of make me giggle…but then it appeals to my Aussie sense of humour!

    • I’m glad I made you laugh! I LOVE the fact that the disability conference was doing it so well, so that no one felt awkward. This is so good. It’s so easy and tempting to ‘systematise’ when we have an organisation like the church, rather than saying, ‘what is good for this individual’. For example, I am a wheelchair user, but I am able to stand up and walk a few paces, so quite often I like to transfer from my wheelchair to a seat, because it is more comfortable. If we treat people as individuals, we can ask them what their needs are at any given moment. And that’s just good practice for everyone, not just disabled people. 🙂

  • Alena Belleque

    As someone with an invisible disability, thank you for writing this. I could add a whole section! And I, too, have gone home after fruitlessly searching for a close enough space.

    • Yes! I know there is SO much to be written on invisible illnesses, and how people think that means invisible = imaginary… Sorry to hear you have also been stung by the lack of appropriate parking. Thanks so much for stopping by and for adding your perspective.

      • Yes: invisible = imaginary. Why?? You can’t see cancer or diabetes or any number of other “acceptable” invisible illnesses and disabilities. #sigh Nothing more fun than having people routinely ask you to do more than you can because they think you’re overstating things, then get mad or distant because you have one good day, or push yourself beyond what you can do out of necessity, and they think it’s evidence that you’re faking. I have a back injury; I often get the statement, “But you’re so young to be disabled,” as if it somehow fixes things. I also have PTSD, and that one is far the worst, in terms of disability, and in terms of relational difficulty. I have managed to get to a point where I can engage with my life outside of my home on a fairly consistent basis, but with limited scope, and only by giving myself lots of recovery time at home (where, of course, nobody sees it). I was recently asked by a new friend to do something for her that would stress out anyone, but for me is completely beyond what I can handle with either issue I have, and when I explained to her that I would love to help her out, but couldn’t do what she was asking (and why), and offered to help in a much smaller way that would still actually be a big stretch for me, she was offended. Next thing I knew, her husband was mad at me, too, and offering to do hypnosis with me to “fix” my problems “in a couple of quick sessions”. Discouraging, to say the very least.

        • I’m really sorry that your friend treated you in such a bad way. How you responded seemed completely reasonable to me. I am gradually learning more and more about PTSD, thanks to friends who share their experiences and books like Elora Ramirez’s Somewhere Between Water and Sky, but I have discovered that although you can glean all the information we want from someone about their experience simply by asking them, when we ask them, people tend to believe what they see over what they are told. So if you look fine, people, (even doctors, in my case) will ignore what you say. And, as you point out, there is so much more to disability than just the physical difficulties – there are social and relational ramifications. Thanks for highlighting that in this space.

  • Michelle

    My son broke his foot two months ago and has been on crutches or a
    mobility scooter during that time. I can honestly say I had no idea how
    challenging the world (even our own home) could be to people who have
    mobility issues. While I’m not happy my son was injured and while I
    rejoice that his injury is temporary I am very grateful for the first
    hand experience in helping him navigate the world with his injury. My
    eyes are opened in a new way. Your writing has served to further
    illuminate my mind and appreciate the challenges of long term mobility
    issues. Blessings on you. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for this comment, and for taking the time to read. It is really interesting to me how many are saying ‘I had no idea how difficult it was for disabled people until I had a similar experience’. I was the same: just assumed that our world was now pro-disability and there was no problems in terms of accessibility. I wonder if we can help by making kids aware at school? It would be wonderful if every school could have a disability awareness day…

      • Karin

        When I started working in a long-term care centre, 30 yrs. ago, we as staff had regular education sessions that included role playing for empathy training, i.e. being fed pureed food as well as to being driven around our centre in a wheelchair, also being blind-folded; having ears plugged or otherwise incapacitated, and then evaluating the treatment received by other staff as they cared for their ‘patient’. Eye-opening to say the least! Very helpful! Hope I explained that well enough.

        • Yes! This sounds like exactly the kind of thing we need. I love that your care centre did this – sounds really important.

  • L.W. Dicker

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “Brethren, I’ve heard it said among you that I am the Son of God and was sent to die for your sins.

    Brethren, may I asketh, who among you is the lunatic who came up with this Neanderthal bullshit!!!???

    Blood sacrifice!!!!???? Brethren, have you completely lost your fucking minds!!!!????

    Surely I say to you, I’d sooner lick Judas’ ass crack than subject myself to the Stone Age insanity of human sacrifice!!!

    And the disciple whom Jesus loved the most said,

    “Well, shit man!!!! What the hell are we supposed to do now!!!!????

    Hey, is that fat bastard over there the Buddha!!?

    Tell that some’ bitch I need to have a word with him!!!

    —-The Holy Bible, if it was actually true

    • shelovesmag

      Idelette McVicker | @idelette
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  • Cheggers1971

    Found it! Thanks so much for writing this, Tanya. Reminds me of the horror of checking into an airport with my Mum in a wheelchair. It was heartbreaking for them to radio down to come an collect “another wheelchair”. My wonderful Mum was certainly NOT ‘another wheelchair’!

    There are also many overtones within the church of ‘serving’. I’m all for that but when you are no longer able to ‘serve’ in the usual ways but still have so much to give, I’ve had to learn to draw on God, rather than the church, to realise that we are loved for who we are and not what we do…!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, lovely Sarah! ‘Another wheelchair’ – yes i have had that too, accompanied by rolling of eyes.
      Its interesting about what you say re serving in church. Do we send the message that our worth is based in what we do, i wonder? Is there another paradigm to adopt, rather than the binary seving/being served? These are the questions youre prompting me to think through today.

      • We don’t preach it, but I certainly felt it when literally the only contact I had from some was when they wanted me to do something. ( Despite knowing I was unwell ;-( ) Love runs much deeper than this – as I have since discovered & I’m continuing to discover! 🙂 I posted my thoughts on this last summer: ‘What are you worth?’

        • Oh man – that sucks. That really sucks. My church have been really kind to me since I’ve been ill – they’re one of the good ones – been sensitive about visiting, and sending me cards. One of the members of our chruch sends me an email every week to fill me in on church news. That’s love – and that’s something that we should definitely be doing.

          • That’s fabulous to hear. Fortunately more people were caring than not & I did have a few really fab friends from church.
            PS I’m now at a different church (not because of this!)

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  • Hannah Schaefer

    I cried. I am both convicted and moved. You are a great writer, Tanya – thank you for telling your story.

    • Thank you so much for hearing me – and for feeling it all with me. Much appreciated.

  • Dear Tanya, thank you for putting to words the subtle, and not subtle, ways that disabled people endure being treated as less than human. My dad suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 42 years. Seeing others define him as “disabled” was difficult as I wrestled to overcome defining him that way myself (growing past childish immaturity). At the same time, it always made me proud that he was a contractor who oversaw the building of custom homes (defying the stereotypes). It thrills me that you are writing, and I pray that God opens the way for your continued teaching and ministry (not just about disability). Such beautiful words: “Love listens. Love speaks to people as an equal, however
    different that person is, however uncomfortable we feel, however much we
    fear saying the wrong thing. Love gives silenced people a voice. Love
    asks disabled Bible teachers to speak, (and doesn’t just ask them to
    speak to disabled people about disability.)”

    • Amy, thanks so much for reading, and for this lovely comment. I loved hearing about your Dad – how cool that he was a contractor! There can’t be many disabled contractors around – I love it when expectations are defied. And this -yes – “disabled people endure being treated as less than human. ” Thank you.

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