This summer I volunteered at a Joni & Friends Family Retreat. For a week I worked as a short-term missionary (STM) paired with a camper who had a disability so her care-giver could enjoy some respite. There are many things I am still pondering in my heart after that experience, including reflections on my own journey.
As a child, most of my prayers involved petitioning God to remove cerebral palsy from my life. I hoped the grace of God would help me turn away from my disability. Surely His healing hand would deliver me!
As an adult, I’m learning that the grace of God can also help you turn and face your reality. Volunteering at Joni Camp helped me see that the Body of Christ can help you bear the challenges and suffering of life, even if it means living with a disability.
I saw this time and time again at camp:
I saw it in a small group when a young man wept openly about what he has lost due to his disabilities. The people around him acknowledged his pain, wiped his tears, and wept with him.
· I saw it while walking into a bathroom where a mother faced an overwhelming mess while toileting her adult son. People immediately stepped in to offer wipes and whatever assistance they could.
· I saw it when a middle aged father carried his teenage daughter down the dock so she could ride the pontoon. It took some effort, but he was happy to do it.
· I saw it in personal care attendants who could interpret the groans of a young woman because they had assisted her for so much of her life.
· I saw it in the recreation staff that stood in the water for hours every afternoon so others could be supported in their fun. This is the beauty of the Body of Christ at work!
I was encouraged by all I saw, but challenged by it as well. After sharing my internal struggles with one of the camp leaders, I was encouraged by this insight, "Sometimes the suffering we see looks like the back of a tapestry.” At first all we see is a knotty, tangled mess, but the truth is, God is creating a masterpiece.
Once a month, I’m going to be inviting people with disabilities and those who regularly interact with them to share their stories on my blog, turning the tapestry over, gaining a glimpse of where God is at work in the midst of the challenges they face.
Will you join me on this journey, looking for the beautiful design created by the Grand Weaver?
We will begin next week when we hear from two-time Paralympian and national wheelchair racer record holder, Judy Siegle.
Image Source: http://www.bigmouthagain.com/