10 minutes before leaving work on Friday, I had a freak mug accident! It was quite annoying at the time, but now I am finding it funny! I had cleaned my two coffee mugs and as I started walking back to my office one of the mug handles spontaneously came off, as it did so, it cut my thumb right across the knuckle, so i spent a couple of days with my thumb bandaged up!
Whenever I have cut myself like that (there has been at least 3 times now on my thumbs alone!) It does make me think about whether it would be easier if I had them removed (I was told that when I joked about it at home, my 4 year old daughter pulled very worried expression! Oops!) How would i cope without the limb or finger? Being only a temporary “handicap” I do not have much time to work out the best way to get around not being able to use the thumb, and I am amazed how much it gets in the way!
My family got tickets to watch one of the events for the Paralympic games last week. As I am not the most patriotic and I am not the type of person to say “I have to be there, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!” My initial reaction on hearing that we were going was “I am not bothered whether I go or not, but it’s a day spent with my family, and that’s something I want to do!” It wasn’t a matter of me thinking that the Paralympics were not worth seeing, because I have great respect for any athletes who have got that far, and I do think that the Paralympians should be involved in the full opening and closing ceremonies as they deserve as much honour as the Olympians.
My attitude changed however, after watching “Best of Men” on BBC1 this was a dramatisation about Professor Ludwig Guttman and his work with wounded soldiers from World War 2 with spinal injuries, it was an eye opener for me!
- I didn’t ever think about how the Paralympics came to be.
- I was amazed at the tenacity of Dr. Guttman to persevere with his patients despite being called a “Kraut” and getting no respect from his colleagues.
- The impact on the men as they were changed from being bed-ridden with bed sores and having hardly any enthusiasm for getting out of bed, (most had catheters in so had no need to even sit up!) to mobile, jovial, enthusiastic men who could outplay the “able-bodied” staff members in a variety of sports!
I suddenly remembered a tweet from someone recently who said “watching the paralympics makes me think how stupid the phrase “Disabled” is!” When I went to the Paralympics last Wednesday, I saw an incredible sight, about 12 men were vying to win a medal, all they had to do was lay on a bench and lift more than their competitors, (easier said than done when the record stood at around 243 kilograms!) I sat there with my family, amazed at their feats of strength, and then was even more amazed when I worked out that the current record holder had a bodyweight of around 93 kilograms so he lifted over two and a half times his own weight! Then the current paralympic record holder, Mohammed Eldib went for the World record, he lifted 249 kilograms, 2.67 times his own weight!
The thing about watching Paralympians is not only how inspirational they are by overcoming adversity, initial loss of mobility from accidents, war or illness, or even what they may have had to live with from birth. But how ignorant and stupid it is to call them “disabled” or look down on them in any way. I will never forget something a colleague from a previous job once said to me, “If you know your child will be born with disabilities or down syndrome you should be able to abort them or Euthanase, it would be kinder! You do it to animals that are sick why not humans?”
I was shocked and didn’t have time to question that thought of his, but he is not the only one who has that bizarre idea and conception! There are loads of people who are so ignorant that they do not realise how able people actually are! Anyone can be “disabled” by:-
- Others– if they do not allow you to fulfil your purpose!
- Life- if you do not get back up again if it knocks you down! (Remember if you feel like you have hit rock bottom, Jesus is the “Rock” so he’s there with you, supporting you!)
- Fear- if you let it prevent you from living your life and experiencing what God has to offer! (Bizarrely, I had a split-second of fear as I washed up a mug at home! The memory of what happened flashed through my mind, I quickly dismissed it as a silly thought, Imagine if I had let it control me, no more coffee!! 😦 )
- The Past- if you let it affect your future and prevent you from moving forward.
- A lack of faith- if it keeps you in your comfort zone and stops you from stepping out and having the life you are meant to have!
There a three bible verses that come to my mind when considering what the world calls “Disability”
1.John 9 verses 1-3 – sin is not the sole cause of “disability” or “impairment” but God allows people to be blind, deaf, have back pain or depression, so that his glory may been seen through them, whether they are healed or not, God’s glory shines through if we are willing to be used in that way!
2.1 Corinthians 1 verse 27– The things the world considers weak or looks down upon are used to shame those considered strong and looked up to! How many “able bodied” people came away from the Paralympics thinking “I am weak!” or “I am unfit!“?
3.2 Corinthians 12 verse 1-10– In our weakness, we rely on God to give us strength, and that strength is much more than we could even imagine, not even Mohammed Eldib has the strength that God can offer us, when we realise we need his help!
We all can consider ourselves impaired/disabled unless we realise that we although there may be things we cannot do, with God’s help we can do much much more! When we are determined to follow God and look at what he has made us to be, then we can experience the exhilaration and excitement that the olympians & paralympians would have had when they competed in the games!!