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Blog > Can you "see" the handicapped?
Can you "see" the handicapped?

Jun 3, 2013

I read a story long ago. I can't recall just where I read it, but it brought tears to my eyes, and my soul cried out in utter despair. It went kinda went like this:
A soldier that had served overseas was coming home after the war. He called his parents to alert them of his unexpected arrival. While he was on the phone talking to his parents, he could hear the excitement in their voices and the tears of joy they shed.
During their conversation the son asked if he could bring a soldier along home with him. Of course the parents agreed immediately and were more than happy to open their doors to another soldier that had served. The son went quiet over the phone and then said, "Well mom and dad, there is something you should know. This soldier that is coming home with me was hurt over there fighting. And well... he has a hard time getting around and needs a lot of help. He can't dress himself very well, and grooming himself, he needs help with his meals and sometimes makes a mess when he feeds himself, and needs help going to the bathroom. He has a hard time sleeping at night remembering the grenade that blew up near him injuring him and killing his buddies that fought beside him. So I know he will really need everyone to help him to readjust. Are you sure it's ok?"
There was a brief silence over the phone and then he heard their voices say with sadness "Son, we would really like to help this poor soldier out, but your mom and I are getting old and we just don't think we are capable of helping him. You understand, we are just not equipped to take care of this soldier and he would be a real burden on the family. I'm sorry but there is just nothing we can do." The son responded with sadness in his voice, "Yes mom and dad, I understand, and I'm really sorry too."
His parents said, "Son, when do we expect you to arrive home? We are really looking forward to seeing you and celebrating your arrival back to the states!" He softly said, "I'll be home in a few days" They all said their good bye's and he hung up the phone.
The family started the preparations of their sons arrival home. The balloons were tied up, a banner was placed saying "Welcome Home", and the food was prepared and friends started gathering for the celebration. But their son never arrived. Instead there was a phone call from the police department asking the family to come to the hospital, and that their son was there. Hurriedly they rushed out the door, into the car and sped away to the hospital. Upon their arrival they were met by the police and escorted into a room. The father and mother looked very confused. "Where is our son, is he ok? Why can't we go see him?" The officer looked at them with sadness in his eyes, and spoke with a trembling voice. "I'm sorry to inform you but your son passed away. He was found in a hotel room where he had shot himself. We found this note lying on the bedside table next to him." The note simply read:

"Dear mom and dad, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. I understand that you both are getting up there in years, and I didn't want to be a burden. Understand I love you both very much and will see you again someday soon. Love, Your son"

As terribly sad as this story is, it makes me wonder how many people we each encounter in our daily walk through life. that are "handicapped"? Not so much physically or mentally, but more so as spiritually? Just as the parents turned away their son, unknowing that he was that disabled soldier he was referring to over the phone. How many of us are or have been spiritually handicapped?

Let me tell you a little bit about my spiritual history to explain:
I was raised in a strict Baptist church, and raised by a southern baptist mother and a Baptist father. I went to church 4 times a week (Sunday morning and evening, Saturday choir practice and Wednesday night Bible study) from the time I can remember until I was in high school. Around the time I was 10, 11, 12.. people started pressuring me to commit my life to Jesus and be baptized. This was a big deal to them, and I was told that the Spirit would move me to make this commitment and so on. Well, I never felt that. Instead of wanting to commit myself I had many, many questions about God and the way they taught me about God that had never made sense to me, but one big rule was, never question just accept. Needless to say, the last few years my family and I went to church, were uncomfortable for me, (I had not shared any of my feelings with them about it) and decided to stop attending church after I left home at 18. It wasn't until I quit going to church and was no longer in that "controlled" environment, and later on down the pages of time, that I realized I had never had a personal relationship with "God". So I started reading and researching and studying on my own about spirituality, and once I accepted the fact that I wanted that real relationship and connection with God, I found it.
So for me, I believe I did have a spiritual handicap that kept me from knowing God, and that was because of the strict and controlled legalistic kind of church I was brought up in and an even stricter home environment. Now this connection didn't happen overnight, it took many, many years to work thru and discard all the baggage I had accumulated over the years. For a long time I was very angry, angry at my parents for taking me to church, angry that what was taught in church was opposite of what went on behind closed doors at home, and angry at the church for stifling my spirituality and not letting me come to God in my own way. I was baptized not because I understood religion, but because I was scared by the fire and brimstone preachings, our church was being taught based on the Mosaic law instead of the covenant of Grace. I got over that and am now grateful that while it was painful at the time, I have a better understanding of how I DO believe and what I believe God wants for me. I can look back and know that even as a child and even though I didn't recognize that connection with God, He was speaking to me and telling me that church was not my path, but finding Him was and understanding what He was about was what was important in order to find salvation. He was letting ME make my own testimony instead of others making it for me. This was MY own personal walk with Him. I don't want to wait to see God face to face when I am dead... I want to see God face to face while I am still alive!

So basically I see it as, we are all different, we all have the same basic human needs, but also have individual physical, emotional and spiritual needs. To try to fulfill everyone's needs the same way is unrealistic and if someone is trying to fulfill their needs in a way that is not spiritually satisfying, then I would call that a handicap. I am NOT endorsing that you don't attend church, because the fellowship with other Christians in learning and absorbing the word is crucial in your walk with Christ. As Christians we need to learn to spot the "handicapped" and help them find their way with gentleness, support, and love. Don't wait until you hear the phone ring to find out you was to late.

Linda Sheppard-Killip

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