Is My Disability A Blessing Or Curse?
Is my disability a blessing or a curse? I was up late with that question and couldn’t sleep after hearing Dr. Amy Kenny speak at the Creative Justice Conference. She brought up so many great truths and points regarding disabilities and life. But in my mind, they seemed overcasted by her continual focus of being created disabled while emphasizing the nuance of being disabled in her identity as apposed to having a disability as part of who she is. She would say, “I am disabled. I am not a person ‘with‘ a disability.”
I wasn’t created with my disability, though. At least not with the paralyzed body I have lived with since I was 15 years old. And I don’t believe God orchestrated my car accident that resulted in my spinal cord injury, either. The body God intended me to be created in was fully able in the physical sense of walking and functioning without the challenges of the paralysis I’ve had to endure for the last 3 decades and continue to experience today.
So with Amy Kenny’s emphasis on how being disabled is defined with the meaning of being blessed within her created identity, I struggled with the deeper question within myself, is my disability a blessing or curse?
The Jewish Rabbi in ‘Fiddler on the Roof‘ quite truthfully said that there is a blessing in everything. The nature of our humanity, no matter what struggles and sufferings we are enduring, is rooted in an identity that reflects God’s character and presence everywhere.
In the very beginnings of creation, the word God used for blessing was the Hebrew word “Baruch“. (Gen. 2:3) While it was especially spoken of over the Sabbath, the same blessing was given over all creation. Repeatedly, he would speak the words… “And it was good.”
Reflecting that same characteristic of God, Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo, a Jewish scholar, also shares, “How wise were the sages of Israel when they instituted the custom of making a blessing on almost anything, whether it is eating, drinking, observing natural phenomena, or smelling extravagant aromas. They depicted all these activities as nothing less than totally miraculous.”
Blessings are not the riches of good health, accumulated wealth, or recognized successes. It is not in finding your healing or getting rid of pain and anguish. It is in finding the miraculous in everything that is a part of life both in physicality and experience. Or more meaningfully, it is in recognizing God’s love and presence within every given moment in time — we do not possess blessings; we submit to our relationship with them in God’s revealing.
As my friend Dick pointed out in conversation this past week, the disabilities I experience do not limit the ways God reveals his blessings through the experiences I face — and for sure, it is my friends who truly reveal God’s presence and goodness around me, too.
I also love the way Maya Angelou describes it when she wrote:
I believed that there was a God because I was told it by my grandmother and later by other adults. But when I found that I knew not only that there was a God but that I was a child of God, when I understood that, when I comprehended that, more than that, when I internalized that, ingested that, I became courageous.
Ramsey, K.J.. The Lord Is My Courage (p. 5). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
When we find the disabilities in our life, we experience the blessings from them shaping our identity not because of them, but because we begin to live with them courageously, mercifully, gracefully, and lovingly for God’s revealing presence being at work and present in our lives and in the lives of those around us. As the old saying goes, we are blessed to be a blessing.
Read the full story: