I am glad so many of you enjoyed the Top Ten List last week. Disability in the family is not all about sadness, challenges, ir missing out. There is much joy and blessing in our families, as there can be in any family. Let’s take a look at some additional blessings found in my own marriage and the marriage of others shared by friends.
- Vulnerability – My handsome and wise husband, Jerry, puts it this way, “because I was born with a disability, and need the assistance of others for my daily living and personal care, I believe it creates openness to vulnerability in other ways too.” I think he is right. It is hard to hide – physically or emotionally when dealing with a disability. We see a carry over into our vulnerability with one another emotionally, mentally and socially.
- Community – As hard as we try, we can’t do life on our own – even with the two of us together (and our Lord’s presence). Here is where that vulnerability ties in again when we say to one another or others, “I/we need help.” It is humbling and beautiful to see friends and strangers alike step up to assist us and share in carrying some of our needs. Not only do our needs get met, but we also learn to shed some pride. Through the process we have made some incredible friendships that we likely would not have discovered without disability presenting a need.
- Values Clarification – Disability in the family quickly brings what is really important to the surface. How do we spend our money? Is image what we should strive fort? With limited energy what is the best way to use my time and strength? Is this battle worth fighting? I like the way one mom put it when she contacted me, “It seems like there have been seasons of added stress . . . that require an almost daily decision to pull together and get stronger together, trusting God, rather than to push apart and try to deal wth the difficulty on our own.”
- Commitment of Vows – It does not take long once disability becomes a part of the marriage to have an opportunity to determine if we are going to live out the vows we spoke, or were they just something to say in a ceremony. The full impact of “love and honor in sickness or health, richer or poorer, till death do us part” takes on a much deeper meaning. We learn that the commitment to our vows may look very different than we thought they would when we spoke them. It is not just that I will alter my plans to care for you while you have the flu, or to take some time off when our child has surgery. Rather it may be making the choice to serve my spouse will surpasses everything else. Even though there is a dailyness to our life that takes so much time, there is still no one else I want to walk with through this amazing journey called life than Jerry Borton.
- Image of God – One of the things disability does best for all of us (not just in the affected families) is teach us about the image of God. The Bible makes it very clear in both Genesis and Psalm 139 (among other passages) that every person is created purposefully and intentionally and bears the image of our God. I love that. To me it means the image of God has nothing to do with how one looks or ambulates, how quickly or deeply one can think, how eloquently one can speak or write, how far one can hit a baseball or throw a football or anything else we tend to emphasize. The image of God is something far deeper – it is our soul, that regardless of special need, disability, or a “perfect” body and brain in which God communes with each one of us.
- A picture of Christ and the Church – God instituted marriage asa picture of the Church (not the local building, but the people who follow Jesus around the world) and Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). Peter Rosenberger dedicates his book Hope for the Caregiver to “Jesus Christ, the ultimate caregiver of a wounded bride.” That image grabs my heart and my mind and reminds me that my role as a Caregiver spouse is just a small example of the lengths Jesus Christ went to to care for each of us, by giving His life for our sins. I hope when people look at our marriage they see some small glimmer of that.
Let me wrap this up with an excerpt of an email I got from a wise friend. She and her husband each have a different disabling conditions.
When we have had difficulties, we have chosen to remember that God put us together for His purpose and His best for our lives. We have chosen to, individually, and jointly, to allow our experiences related to disability to build character and increase compassion towards each other, and it has also opened our eyes to the needs and struggles experienced by others who are affected by disabilities. And caused us to be more compassionate toward them and willing to look for ways to encourage them toward success in their lives and relationships.
Thanks for reminding us my dear friend, that we have a choice each day, each moment to allow our family life to glorify God. Who’s with me?
Your turn now – please share your thoughts on these blessings, or others you encounter.