Saturday, June 9, 2007

Not THAT disabled...

Yesterday my husband and I met with our pastoral candidate for some one on one time of discussion. We had a few questions to ask him about things that pertain more to our family than the church as a whole. One of the questions we asked was "What do you see the role of people with disabilities in the church?". It saddens me to go to a church and see no disabled people at all. Surely there are disabled people in that community that need God just as much as the rest of us. What are we doing wrong? In any case, he had a wonderful answer about the value of all life and spent some time talking about a program at the church he currently attends called "Special Friends" where church members partner with people with disabilities to make sure that they are able to participate in church activities that might not be as accessible for them otherwise. I have family members who attend that church and I used to visit some of the "Special Friends" at a group home with my grandfather when I was younger. They were mainly adults with developmental or physical disabilities that kept them from being able to live independently. While I appreciated his answer, as I left I remember thinking "Noah's not THAT disabled"). Upon further reflection, I'm not really sure how I came up with that. I mean, how can I judge how disabled a person is? Who's to say that Noah won't be living in a group home as an adult? Is that better than living with mommy his entire life if he can't be completely independent? Maybe it is. The truth is, we don't really know how disabled Noah is. His label is deaf-blind and that's a pretty hefty label for a little man such as himself. The implant seems to be helping a lot with his hearing, but who knows what the future brings. He has enough vision to get around as well as most kids his (corrected) age, but he does have some pretty significant issues with depth perception making stairs and uneven walking surfaces a big challenge right now. They say he'll "just" need large print books in school, but obviously they can't know that for sure. When he can't walk down the street as a teen and order a burger because the sidewalk's uneven and the words on the menu are too small, will he agree that he's not THAT disabled? What about when he can't get a drivers license? Will he be able to live on his own as an adult or will he be too disabled? Will he need a "Special Friend" to help him at church, or will he just stop going because no one cares to make things accessible for him? We just don't know. But I do that we have a church where he'll be accepted for who he is, no matter how different than everyone else that might be. That is a huge blessing and a lot more than some people have.

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