Tuesday, June 29
Although I consider myself a [non-denominational] Christian, I enjoy studying world religions, finding the many parallels they share, and gleaning bits of wisdom from all of them to apply to my own personal faith. One of my favorites is Taoism. I appreciate what I see as 'simple profundities' in their practices and meditations.
About a dozen years ago, a friend gave me a book called, "365 Tao - Daily Meditations" which despite it being meant as a year long collection of devotions, I devoured in about a week, happening upon a single paragraph that gave me an overall philosophy for my experience as a person with a lifelong disability:
'Acceptance does not mean fatalism. It does not mean capitulation to some slaughtering predestination. Those who follow Tao do not believe in being helpless. They believe in acting within the framework of circumstances.'
You see, in the movies and books, the person who cannot walk, refusing to accept the sentence of being crippled for life, almost always miraculously rises up from their wheelchair out of sheer determination and will.
Real life is rarely like the movies.
Back in the early 90's I was at a church that was nice enough for the most part, but at one point I was accosted by a group of people who wanted to lay hands on me and bring about a healing. They were actually pulling me hard, trying to get me up and out of my wheelchair, while I was doing my best to maintain politeness, and explain that I think I'd know if I'd been healed, and I'd rather not have to fall and break something to prove otherwise. When all was said and done and I wheeled back to my row in the congregation, I felt I'd let them down. I didn't wonder why God didn't heal me. I knew even back then that I was where I was for a reason that would fall under "the greater good" category. But being a people-pleaser usually knows no limits, so in my mind, I'd failed them all and should be ashamed of myself.
Society is so used to seeing unrealistic portrayals of people with disabilities thanks to the media and low-life television evangelists who stage "healings" every week. The following are actual statements people have made to me regarding my disability:
1. I would never let the disability win. I would just get right up out of that chair! ~Really? My spinal cord would like to make a $$$ bet with you.
2. If you just have enough faith, you'll stand right up and walk.
~And if I have enough faith, maybe the person saying this would have to live a week in my body...I won't hold my breath on either account.
3. You're not receiving a healing because you have unforgiven sin in your life. ~Wow. This gem came from a preacher. I guess he hadn't read the part in the Bible about Jesus dying for my sins.
Seriously, I think God's miracle in my life is bringing me through the first 30 years without me killing myself, and then going on to actually give me JOY, and to become what most people would consider a decent and contributing member of society.
He helped me to 'act within the framework of my circumstances.' I didn't just passively accept that I would live out my life unable to walk. I acted on what had happened, using it as both a lesson to myself and to others.
Remember, I always refer to myself as a 'realistic optimist' -- sure the glass is half full, but maybe not full of something you want to drink...but nonetheless, there it is. Better to act on it rather than sitting there staring at it, waiting for it to change into something sweet to drink.
I'd love to hear other peoples opinions on incorporating bits and pieces from world religions into your own walk (or roll) through life. Thanks for reading my rantings. :)
Posted by Team Chastain at 10:27 AM