It’s Apparently Disability Awareness Month, And I Really Don’t Care

I’ve been aware of disability all my life. Not only do I live with my own disability and the disability of my husband, but I spent my entire childhood attending school, Saturday recreation programs and summer camps with children who had a variety of physical and intellectual disabilities. In my early 40s, I spent two years in a nursing home for disabled adults. So I’m quite aware of disability, thank you very much.

I guess I could devote this month’s worth of blog posts to writing disability themed articles. Such articles usually attract lots of readers, and my ego would certainly love that boost in numbers. Maybe able bodied people would actually learn a few things.

But I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable about disabled people who form their careers or ministries around disability. God uses them, I admit. Often. they open doors for other disabled people, greatly improving their lives. Yet it bothers me a little to see them focus so narrowly on their disabilities that few of them seem to have an identity that transcends disability. I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I’d rather raise myself above my disability in order to take my place in the able bodied world. Not that I want to pretend that my Cerebral Palsy doesn’t exist — I just don’t want it to define me.

My identity is in Christ.

Since my identity is in Christ, I prefer to arrange my blog around Him and His Word. Occasionally, writing about my disability may help demonstrate a spiritual point, in which case I’m happy to include it in the conversation. But even then, it must be secondary to writing about the Lord.

I understand curiosity about living with disability, Recently I’ve started watching Little People, Big World, and I admit to being fascinated by the obstacles dwarves have to overcome, as well as how the family overcomes them. So yes, I get why my readers would enjoy glimpses into how John and I manage with our strange little lifestyle. There must be Christian blogs out there by disabled writers that would focus more on disability to satisfy any curiosity you might have.

But I do care about spiritual disability. So, although I occasionally blog about my disability, The Outspoken TULIP focuses on helping women who have been spiritually crippled by false teachers and/or unbiblical trends that plague the evangelical landscape. Physiological disabilities, as difficult and overwhelming as they are, only last through this lifetime, but spiritual disabilities can have consequences with eternal ramifications. This being the situation, it seems to me that my headstick is best used to address things that retard or handicap growth in Christ.

As an example, think with me about the original audience of Hebrews. These Christians were Jews who had come to faith in Jesus Christ, but were growing fearful in the face of persecution from unconverted Jews. They had begun thinking that returning to Judaism might be a safer approach to worshiping God. Responding to their temptation towards apostasy, the writer of Hebrews constructed an argument that showed Christ’s completion of (and therefore His superiority over) the old covenant. Throughout the epistle, the writer warned them against the false teaching that they could walk away from Christianity without incurring God’s wrath. He then encouraged them to accept the discipline of persecution as evidence that they were indeed God’s children.

At that point, the writer of Hebrews confronted their spiritual weakness as if it was a physical disability.

12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. ~~Hebrews 12:12-13 (NASB95)

Just as the Hebrew church had been disabled by the false teaching that they could return to Judaism without eternal repercussions, so 21st Century Christian women (and men too) can suffer spiritual disabilities by following teachers and/or trends that lead them away from the sound doctrine of Scripture. For this reason, it’s imperative that we strengthen our metaphorical hands and knees, walking in straight paths that heal our spiritual lameness.

Am I claiming that I have reached spiritual wholeness and therefore can counsel other women from a position of superiority? Hardly! Like everyone else, I’m vulnerable to deception. I need constant washing in God’s Word, both from my pastor’s preaching and my personal time in the Bible, supplemented by blogs and podcasts by solid Christians. I must measure everything by the Word of God, and I must take care to interpret His Word as accurately and responsibly as I can.

I also rely on each of you to test my words against Scripture. As a fallible human being with blind spots, I know better than to set myself up as some revered Bible teacher who is above being questioned. Like everyone else, I need the Lord to protect me from spiritual disability.

Writing this blog actually helps me stay spiritually healthy. Researching various teachers and trends, and then comparing the teachings to Scripture, strengthens me to walk in obedience to the Lord. I pray daily that what I write will in turn minister to the women reading my articles. If I encourage just one lady away from debilitating teachings, this blog will be worth it.

It’s Disability Awareness Month, I’m told. Maybe we can best celebrate it by working to overcome spiritual disabilities that could have eternal effects.

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