One of the things my Mom would repeat to me over and over was,
“Someone is always way worse off than you, and someone always has it way better.”
In a nutshell, she was talking about contentment. Usually I would be complaining about some injustice I was enduring as a teenager, and she would remind me that I was not the only one and that I actually had it pretty good compared to others.
So, what does this have to do with special needs and disability?
Well, kind of everything. Yes, I have a child with a disability and my life is very different from most parents out there with typically developing children. Yet, the more I meet other Mom’s with children or loved ones with disabilities, I have learned my life is not so bad after all.
One of the most important things I have learned, so far, is to live life as you get it and then be as real with it as possible.
Let me explain.
Life is not fair, never has been, never will be. There will be ups and downs along the way. It is just that some folks seem to get more downs than they do ups. Sometimes it is through our own doing and sometimes it is just the way our lives roll.
Stop for a second and think about someone you would consider to be your hero
Now, think about their back story. More than not, they have had some pretty big obstacles to overcome. Why are they your hero? Most likely it has something to do with their current attitude regarding life and if I were to guess it is probably a pretty awesome attitude.
My hero is Joni Eareckson Tada. She was in a diving accident as a teen and has been paralyzed for 50 years. Yes, she has spent the last 50 years in a wheelchair and enduring pain and discomfort. That is a long time. Yet, through her suffering, she has helped countless others to see and reach their potential through their own disabilities. She has ministered to families through her books and her radio program.
One of the stories in the Bible that she has found comfort in is from John 5:5,
“Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
This man is healed by Jesus, but Joni was comforted most by three small words, “a long time.” Thirty-eight years is a long time to be paralyzed. Fifty years is a long time to be paralyzed. But, for her it was that God had acknowledged it as “a long time.”
Joni has co-written a book with Steven Estes entitled, “When God Weeps – Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty.” If you are struggling with your current situation, I highly recommend you get and read this book. My Mom’s advice will ring true.
But, it isn’t just that someone has it worse and someone has it better.
Not at all, it is about what you do with your circumstances.
There are some things people out there endure that are beyond my imagination. There are unmentionable things that are quite unthinkable, but they happen.
But, for Joni, what meant the most was acknowledging the fact that sometimes life is hard, sometimes for some it is unbearable. Joni lives her life for all to see. She does not hide the fact that she gets tired, lives with chronic pain, struggles that others have to help her do basic things, etc. She lives her life and tells her story to encourage others, especially the others who have it way worse than her. Way worse than 50 years of living in a wheelchair.
My point here is to live your life in such a way that others are encouraged. When they see you going about life and know some of the things you have endured along the way, they can think,
“If they can do this, maybe I can, too.”
Jesus is perhaps our greatest example of this. He had things pretty good with God and the Holy Spirit. But, he let all of that go, just to come down and live with us. He lived with limitations and humility purposefully for over thirty years. He willingly died one of the most horrendous shame filled deaths ever thought up, to purchase your redemption.
Think about your story, realize someone always has it worse and someone always has it better. Maybe even write your story. Figure out how your story fits in with God’s story. Then share your story to encourage others. Be honest about the ups and downs, accept where you are, find your contentment in God, then go out and share your story.
Share your life.
There are people all around you who need to hear your story. They need to know there is hope and joy in suffering. They need to know just how much God loves them in the good and the bad.
They desperately need Jesus and a reason for their suffering. Spend some time with Jesus, praying and reading the Word. Find ways to tell your story that involves hope and joy, even in the midst of hard stuff.
Live your life in such a way that others will see Jesus in you.