A new survey was released by Disaboom, a website for disabled people which states that half of Americans would chose death over a severe disability. Initially this was shocking to me and then I sat and thought about it. I am the mother of a severely physically and mentally disabled young lady. I am asked all the time questions like “What kind of quality of life can a person have with such a disability?” or “Hasn’t she suffered enough?” With these questions come a lack of understanding of what our purpose is in this world.
Most people are terrified of being disabled. They are terrified of suffering in any way. They want their independence and freedom. They don’t want to be a “burden” on their families or society. This is understandable, no one wants to be a “burden”. Here is where my perception of being disabled or caring for one who is differs from the results of this survey. This is about LIFE and the purpose for it. Disabled people are first and foremost people. They have dignity and pride just as any of us would have. They want to make the best out of their life despite their challenges. Why do people constantly look at a disabled person as “damaged” or “not normal”? What is normal? Yes, their bodies or their minds may look or work differently form the majority of us, but their soul is the same. They are made in the image and likeness of God, just as you and I are. They have a job to do on this earth, just like any of us. It just requires a different form from the rest of us.
Mother Theresa once said that “without suffering, there is no need for compassion”. I guess this is how I have come to see the world. Through the eyes of a loving Redeemer who is here to walk with us through all the hard things and all the good as well. I recognize that He knows all things and all situations work to His glory. I step out in faith each day and recognize the dignity and beauty of my daughter Courtney and know that God has a plan for her too. I may not ever completely understand it, but there is a plan just the same. God teaches us through our weaknesses. He shows us that in the end, He is the one we must rely on, not ourselves.
My daughter cannot speak, cannot see and cannot walk. But she is a child of God made in His likeness and image, just as I am. It is my vocation to love and serve her as if she were Christ Himself. She is in pain everyday, she has seizures that scare her and literally take her breath away, everyday. She is not a burden, she is my daughter. She teaches me patience and unconditional love. She teaches me perseverance of spirit and strength of heart. She is a warrior princess in God’s army of faithful servants. She fights for her life each and every day and is at peace with what she is given. She has shown me that one can give one’s life freely to God and rely completely on Him for every breath she takes. She has shown me what true faith and trust in God looks like. I am humbled in her presence. Her life is not something to discard or throw away because the world says she is not normal. She is a human person deserving of love and compassion. I treat her as I would wish to be treated if our roles were reversed. I respect her personhood and trust that God will give me and my family the perseverance and strength of will to love her brilliantly until he calls her home.
Would I chose a disability over death? You betcha. For I know that God is in control and I am not. I know that I live to honor and glorify Him, not myself. If He allows for me to be disabled, I would hope that I would still love and serve Him no matter what challenges my body or mind were given. I know that God doesn’t take away a cross, He changes our hearts toward that cross, and He gives us the grace to carry it each and every day.
I do not come by these opinions lightly. This is hard work for me and for my daughter. I am not perfect and I fall all the time. But again, this is where faith steps in and takes over. What frightens me about this whole survey is, Where is the faith? Where is the hope? You would rather die than live with a disability? There is no hope in that. There is no recognition that life can be fulfilling no matter what circumstances arise. Life is life and I will take it in whatever form my maker allows, until He calls me home.
Which would you choose?
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