We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NRS)
Can all things really work together for good? Really? Even if you go to get a pedi to get in a little self-care in the midst of raising two children with significant developmental delays and physical disabilities and the person seated next to you comments about wanting to rent a child in a wheelchair so she can skip the lines at Disney? Can God use even that and turn it into something good? Why, yes. Yes, God can! And here is how.
As my friend Elizabeth’s aforementioned attempt at getting a pedi unfolded, two women near her started talking about an upcoming trip to Disney. Worried about how her children would handle the long waits, one advised she had hired a guide for $150 an hour to bypass the lines (Seriously? This is a thing? And people pay for it?). The second lamented she could not afford that and wondered aloud if she could rent a child in a wheelchair, so that her precious bundles of joy wouldn’t have to wait their turns with the masses.
You know that moment when you are shocked beyond speech, but the words come later? Boy, did they come! Elizabeth shared a “teachable moment” post in a community social media group.
“…I was so stunned I couldn’t say anything. Now with my heart pounding, I wish I spoke up on behalf of my children and every other person with a disability. So if that was you, here is your teachable moment: You don’t “rent” a person. Certainly not for your gain and especially not so your kids can jump on rides faster. I have two kids with special needs, including a daughter with a wheelchair. Your kids are lucky to have legs strong enough to wait in line. I could go on, but think I’ve made my point… remember to be kind. Disabilities are not humorous. They are not convenient, and they most certainly are not to be used for your convenience!”
She didn’t rant or use ugly words, but made it clear that as a family living with the daily reality of wheelchairs the conversation had been both painful and inappropriate. (And yes, the two “Disney ladies” did see the post!) It was a healing balm to say what she meant to say and help others outside of the world of disability understand a different reality. End of story. Right?
God had other plans.
The post went viral within her community message board. Support poured in.
And then came the replies from a silent population of special needs moms in her own community, neighbors she had never met. They got it because they lived it. They needed each other and, through intense vulnerability, began introducing themselves and their children. A few clicks of a keyboard later and a secret group was born creating a safe place for moms to connect, over one hundred and growing. The post filled a void, creating a network of support, advice, idea exchanges and more. Their latest adventure? Indoor skydiving at iFly! The activity will be adapted for families of all abilities.
There comes a moment when we need to make a choice. Ignore the pain or face it. Sit in isolation or find community. Sometimes it takes incredible vulnerability to follow where God leads. Thanks be to God that we can trust in God to make all things work together for good.
Healing God, we thank you for community. Give us the courage to be vulnerable enough to find it and the courage to speak up with words that are pleasing to you when we face our own teachable moments. Amen
Rev Doc Lorna
Photo “Nail Polish (practical joke)” photographed by Kungfuman courtesy of Wikimedia