This is an interesting time in the seasons of the church. We have experienced the anticipation of Advent, and the joy of Christmas. In the Lectionary we are greeted by the “suddenly” gospel of Mark, who portrays Jesus dashing from place to place, healing person after person. And in a couple of weeks, we will suddenly be in Lent, joining Jesus on the long, sad journey to the cross. His short time with us as a human feels particularly short to me this year, and I ponder what this means to me and my Christian walk (roll).
I have thought lately about some of the people who tried to harm me, who set obstacles in my way, who rejected me for my disabilities, who were unkind, and I find that it no longer matters. I find that they too have disabilities - of the heart. We are all broken in some manner, and I found the best way to live with hurtful people was to look at them the way God looked at them.
It was hard at first, but I learned to see them as God might - smiling, happy, innocent, beloved children. If I could picture them that way they no longer frightened or upset me, and I could pray for them sincerely. In time I could even be with them without fear or discomfort.
I think this is something the world doesn’t understand about Christianity, and perhaps something it fears. As a young girl I actually said “I never hold a grudge after I get even.” And that is the world’s way. I rejoice that I am no longer that person. That is the gift of Jesus. We don’t need to “get even.” We just need to “get over.”
I learned a long time ago that carrying around all the past hurts was like carrying around poison. I had swallowed it, and I was waiting for the other person to die! I had to rid myself of these horrible feelings, and the only way I could do that was to forgive the people who had hurt me, and what they had done. It didn’t mean I condoned it. It didn’t mean these people were now my best friends. But it did mean that I could greet them as fellow children of God, as broken as I was. I could protect myself around them, while showing them God’s love. It’s a peculiar road by the world’s standards, and I must always remind myself that I am not of the world.
As people with disabilities we are usually seen and treated as “different.” Some want to see us as “inspirations,” rising above our circumstances. Others see us as “less than,” as if an unbroken body or mind symbolizes superiority. Some resent the courtesies (dare I say necessities) of accessible doors, ramps and parking spaces, Braille signage, tactile paving, and chirping crosswalk signals.
We must present ourselves as we are, made in God’s image and proud of it, gracious in our acceptance of all of our differences. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15
Dear Creator God, We thank you that you not only made us in your image, you gave us the capacity to forgive and forget when others hurt us, and to use our gifts to bring others to you. Help us to keep our lanterns lit, to bring others to you, and to keep ourselves strong in your World and in the world. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.