The Disability of Choice

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Friday, May 21, 2010 at 2:27 AM

Three years ago when our daughter was born she had several complications that required some extra time in the hospital. The first aspect of her health that we found out was that she was born with Down syndrome. This syndrome can carry with it many differing health issues and also most importantly varying degrees of mental retardation. Within hours of her birth we knew she would have some learning difficulties and would have some very special needs.

We also knew that life would be a little unsettled for a period of time. With that in mind and six other children to care for, we chose to keep most things close to the house and as routine as possible.

One of those activities was basketball for my seven and nine year old. As had been the pattern in the past I happened to be coaching both of these teams. In order to keep some normalcy in their life I would come home from the hospital in time to practice once a week with them and then we would all make it to the games on Saturday.

During our time in the hospital we received support from our family and our church, we were greatly blessed. We also received support from these teams and the families on those teams. Most of that support came in the form of prayers, meals and gift cards. One form of support came at me from a direction I was not prepared for and has impacted me to this day.

On one of the teams I had two assistant coaches. When they first asked about how the baby was doing I told them of her condition. One was very supportive and gave encouraging words and then offered to pray with us and for us. The other coach kept strangely quiet.

After practice had finished and most of the children were leaving he asked if he could talk to me and of course I agreed. He began at that moment to tell me of his older son, not the one on the team. He told me that he had been born with severe autism. I could see the intensity in his face and hear the sincerity in his voice; this man was not just speaking to me from experience he was speaking to me from his heart.

He told me how his wife had tried with all she had to keep and care for their son. That he had the mental capacity of a 3 year old but was in his late teens. He could not talk to or communicate with them. He shared that he would have outburst at home and in public places. Finally the strength of this beloved son was too much for this mother. At that point they had to make the unbearable decision to put him in a home nearby so that he could have the constant and professional care he needed.

At that moment in my life his words were the last thing I wanted to hear. Though I may not have wanted to hear what he had to say I am sure now that this was a God ordained conversation. I needed to hear it and this dad needed to share it. Looking back there is no doubt that God was in all the details of that season, placing his younger son on my team for this moment.

As the season progressed I got to know the wife a little better and she would check on Gracie. One day again I had another God ordained moment in a conversation with this mom. She shared her heart with me for several minutes and then she said something I will never forget. She said that if they had their disability of choice for their son; it would have been Down syndrome. Those words struck me and still do to this day; disability of choice. Looking at it from a three year perspective I know where she was coming from and it has really made me think.

While some people like my daughter and my friend’s son are born with disabilities most of us choose ours. With that in mind this is what I am absolutely certain of; we all have our disabilities of choice. What is yours?

Do we choose addictions or greed? Do we choose a hateful and disconnected spirit? Do we choose selfishness, pride or lust? Do we choose bitterness over forgiveness? The definition of the word disabled says, “To make somebody unable to perform the activities needed to earn a living or carry out the basic task of daily life without difficulty.” Does that sound like your disability, it sure sounds like mine.

Just as sure as I am that we all are disabled to some extent I am also sure that God is there each and every day to help us overcome our disabilities. Without His help we would be unable to make it day to day.

Your disability of choice; you can either embrace it and live your life short of what God has for you, or you can choose God and overcome it. The decision is daily and it is ours to determine.

Scripture: Jeremiah 1:18-19, “Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land-against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.” Just as in Jeremiah’s day the Lord is still in the business of rescuing his people!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we bring our needs to you this day, we bring the things to you that have overcome us, that defeat us and that make our life less than it should be and we lay them at your feet. We know that you desire the best for us and so we ask for your strength to overcome our weakness. We thank you that you love us and desire the best for us. You are a mighty and great God and we ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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