Today is part three of my personal story. The story isn’t always pretty, but I’m sharing to help others. I pray that through my blog, I can help many others who are suffering. I pray that you will seek the help you need. I pray that you will not be embarrassed. I pray that you understand that help is available for even the most private issues. I pray that I can be of service to anyone who needs me (please feel free to contact me, and I will help in every possible way).
I must confess that I was overwhelmed by your love and support over my post on mental illness. I heard from many brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I heard from people whom I have never met. Kind people told me I was courageous for sharing what I did. Some came to me and confessed that they, too, had issues with anger or some other problem affecting mental health and relationships. I heard how that my post gave some encouragement to seek treatment. I do not mind telling you how uncomfortable and nervous I was to post my story about anger. It has been one work of the flesh I’ve been seeking to remove from my life for a number of years.
Now for another part of my story:
I love Polishing the Pulpit (PTP)! The first year I attended, I left after preaching on Sunday morning, and I arrived in time for the evening worship service. Upon returning, I told my shepherds I wanted to attend the whole week the following year; I left on Friday afternoon, and I missed some of the early bird sessions I wanted to hear. Thus, I went down on Thursday evening this past year. After my first trip to PTP, I was “hooked.”
One of the most amazing things about PTP is the way I am treated. This year, Mom and Dad pushed me in my wheelchair (Mom hit a trashcan or two, but we did well otherwise). People whom I did not know would open the door so my parents and I could enter. People moved out of the way so that we could easily move through the crowd. One young man, whose name I did not get, came up to Mom, asked what session we were attending next, and he took over and pushed me right where we were going.
My brethren at PTP demonstrate the mind of Christ “who, existing in the form of God, did not deem the being equal with God a seizure, but emptied himself, having taken the form of a bondservant, having become in the likeness of men; and having been found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient as far as death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:6-8). “Be tenderly loving to one another in the love of the brethren; be the leader for one another in honor” (Rom 12:10). “Serve one another through love” (Gal 5:13).
The world does not seek to “be the leader for one another in honor.” They often care only about themselves, and, when you suffer from a disability, the world demonstrates a very uncaring attitude.
My family (well, my sons and I) enjoy baseball, and my boys play every year through our county’s park and recreation department. At our home park a parking lot dedicated to disabled parking is very near to the field. It’s often extremely difficult to get a parking spot there, for many others park there, too. Were I to park in the other lot, I could never make it to the field to watch a game. Last year, a lady was parked right in the disabled walkway as I was seeking to get to the stands and watch Wil play. She was simply sitting in the walkway talking with a friend. I was using my walker (I was far too unsteady that day simply to use a cane), and I could not get passed her car to access the concrete walk to the ballfield. I tried and tried to get around her. She finally looked at me and said, “Sir, you could ask me to move.” I don’t remember what I exactly said, but I wanted to say, “Ma’am, this is disabled parking. I shouldn’t need to ask you to move, because you’re not supposed to be parked here.” I must also say that once the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Department started patrolling the parking lot and giving tickets, I’ve had far fewer problems.
Walking into stores can be quite treacherous, for I need a good bit of time to walk from disabled parking into the store. Cars will swerve around me. Sometimes people will blare their horns and refuse to stop (but, it’s rare for people to be that rude, but it does happen sometimes).
Walking through stores can be just as difficult. People have no problem going around me and stopping (it’s not pretty when I have to stop suddenly when walking; I know people don’t realize that stopping in front of me causes me problems, but I would have fewer problems if more kindness were shown). Walking through Walmart (if I go to Hell, I’m convinced I’ll be put in a super, super sized Wal-Mart and be forced to walk those aisles for all eternity, and I’d probably be stuck in the scrapbooking section) has become such a challenge that I’ve started use a motorized buggy.
When you sit in a wheelchair, you might as well be the Invisible Man. My family and I took a vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, last summer. My wife and boys took turns pushing the wheelchair. Every afternoon at the capitol, actors recreated the reading of the Declaration of Independence. I really wanted to go back in time, if you will, and experience that; I also wanted to record it with my iPad. Tammy had pushed me to a prime spot right in front. As the crowd gathered, a girl behind me was having trouble seeing; her father placed her right in front of me and told her, “Just stand here in front of this man.”
While we were in Williamsburg, my boys picked out souvenirs in a gift shop. The boys found what they wanted, and I was at the counter checking out. A woman, needing to get to the other side of the shop, stepped right over me. Tammy and I looked at each other, because we couldn’t believe what we had just seen.
Sometimes I am amazed at just how downright ugly people can be. I’m writing this to friends who have no desire to be rude. I simply want to give you a glimpse of how others treat those with disabilities that you might not ever fall into that trap.
Part of my story is mistreatment at the hands of others.
Tomorrow I continue telling my story by describing my unpleasant experiences with neurologists.