I am a mess.

Yes, I admit it.  I am a mess.  A total disaster.  I have piles of laundry.  I can’t remember the last time I got a haircut.  My clothes are always stained and most of  my jeans are ripped at the knees.  My kids have sticky hands and faces and they all need haircuts too.  They all disobey and forget their chores and sometimes I even raise my voice.  I say things that I later think are too strict or too lenient or just too crazy.

I forget appointments and run late for church (and many other things) and I am always trying my best to keep my six year old and two year old from running off.  I see the looks of pity or sometimes contempt from moms with obedient, calm and clean children at their side and I want to explain that we have “issues,” but I am too busy keeping the kids out of traffic.

We don’t always finish our assignments.  We don’t always even start all our assignments. My almost three year old is not potty trained and she is the one that has no known neurological issues.  I often forget to thank the wonderful people in our lives and I forget to thank the Lord for my many blessings.  For all of this, and so much more, I have felt guilty.  And don’t forget about feeling guilty for wasting time feeling guilty.

Motherhood means lots of guilt for many of us and for those of us who have children with special needs, that guilt is compounded.  Was it the chocolate I ate when I was pregnant – or maybe the GMOs or the chemicals that I used cleaning the bathroom? In reality it may have been all of those things or none of those things.  Those things are unknowns, but there are other things that I do know.

I do know is that I love my family deeply.  I know that I love my God profoundly.  I know that I am learning to love them all better.  I trust the Lord more than I did before and I believe that He is FOR us and He is not surprised or bewildered by our problems.  I believe that He wants our ultimate good even more than I do.  I believe that I am my children’s mom for a reason and that all of these struggles have changed and refined me in good ways.  I also believe that there are many more mountains to climb, more pain to bear, more faith to build, but I have faith that our battles are not in vain.

I have come to realize that faith doesn’t have time for mommy guilt.  Faith moves forward, not back.  Faith learns from mistakes, repents of sin and takes a new path.  Faith is the “hupostasis” (the assurance, the “substance”, the guarantee, our “handle”) on those things that we cannot yet see with our eyes.  I build my life on the invisible things that I will one day see – the purpose in the difficulty, the building of my trust in God’s goodness, the “success” (in whatever way) of my children, the other things that I have not even imagined yet, but I believe are there. Those things motivate me and give me strength.

Yes, I am still a mess, but  I am a mess with a purpose and I can live with that.

Theology of Disability

Having dealt with “disability” in my children in one way of another for the last nine years, I have been thinking for the last few weeks about a “Theology of Disability” and by that I mean: What is disability, from a theological perspective?

I have spent the last few years with some related thoughts running around in my head about suffering and the purpose of suffering. Suffering and disability seem to be inevitably linked. Not that a person with a disability is doomed to a life of suffering and sadness, but where there is a disability, one will most likely suffer because they cannot do something or can only do it with greater difficulty and they will often have to be somewhat dependent upon others. For the great majority of people with a disability there will be some kind of pain – physical pain that one feels and/or emotional pain from isolation or lack of independence.

My first thought was that neither suffering nor disability existed in Eden and it will not exist in heaven, so can it be a good thing? Jesus went around healing people, not telling them that there was a greater purpose for their sickness or suffering (exception being John 9 – the man born blind so that God would be glorified, but he ended up healing him too).

Some of the erroneous views on disability that I have seen and evaluated are:

1. Disability is a mark of sin. It did not exist in Eden and exists only because we are in a fallen world. The predominant Old Testament view of suffering and sickness (like Job’s friends) would be that the individual or the person’s parents had sinned, causing the person pain and suffering, but Job and the man born blind in John 9 contradict this view. We see a form of this erroneous view today in circles where the person with a disability is told that they have not been healed because of their lack of faith.

2. The individual must accept their life as “less than” a whole person. This view would keep the lepers “outside the camp” (Lev. 13:46). It would tell a person with a disability to accept their lot in life as an outcast and be glad that some may throw you a piece of bread once in a while. Matthew 8 describes a leper that dared to come and kneel before Jesus and express his faith that Jesus could “make him clean.” Jesus does not tell him to remember his place; he heals him instead.

3. People with disabilities are in the world to teach the rest of us lessons about _____ (fill in the blank here – kindness, compassion, gratitude, charity, etc.). Surely all of us have learned to be more generous when faced with others that have any kind of need, but that is not the meaning of that person’s existence. Each person has been created as an individual with dignity and worth. This view treats people as non-people that exist as an object lesson for others.

It is clear that while some of these views seem to have a bit of truth linked to them, none of thems acknowledges the worth of the person and their capacity to glorify God within His plan for their lives, which, of course, none of us can do except for by His strength through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. What, then, can we say is a Biblical view of Disability?

1. Any part of life on this Earth that is not as it was in Eden, nor as it will be in heaven is a reminder of the fact that we live in a fallen world.
Just as when we are sick and long for a day with no sickness we are acknowledging that the world is not yet as it should be and there is a desire for a world un-marred by sin. That is a good thing because pain is reminding that there is something wrong with our present state. If we were to go through our entire lives with no pain, we would not have that longing for something better and that “God-shaped vacuum” that causes us to seek Him. If we were unable to feel pain in one of our extremities, we would never know if we were injured or is something was not right and needed to be fixed. Our pain reminds us of our need for God.

2. There is strength in apparent weakness.
It is widely believed that the Apostle Paul lost much of his vision in later years. We don’t know if it was this or another difficulty that he spoke of in his second letter to the church in Corinth, when he said that the Lord did not remove this “thorn in the flesh” because “[God’s] power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Listen to the paraphrase from The Message:

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

(2 Cor. 12:7-10 – The Message)

Those who have a “disability” have actually been given a “gift.” It is in our dependence on God that we find supernatural strength. I can say that I depend on Him when all goes well, but the more often I am forced to trust in His faithful provision, the more my faith is stretched and the stronger my faith muscle grows. Disability does not always equal a deep spiritual life because the individual has to choose what to trust in, but it is an amazing opportunity for “Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.”

I know that there is so much more to this topic, and that I have barely scratched the surface here, but sometimes I just have to sort some thoughts out on paper (or PC in this case). I am learning to trust God and I pray that my children will also trust God deeply and develop a profound relationship with Him.

Where am I?

Does the world really need another Autism Blog?
Homeschooling Blog?Faith Blog?

I know that there are plenty of these to go around and I am not sure that I have anything completely unique to say, but I think I may just need an outlet to process the millions of thoughts in my head.

I named the blog hupostasis (faith) because faith is what I cling to day by day, moment by moment.  Faith in what I sometimes do not see, but believe with all my heart.  I believe in the great worth of every human being.  I believe that every individual life has meaning and purpose.  I believe that the goal in life is not to cover over our “shortcomings,” but to allow them to be used by God for his glory.  I believe that people with disabilities are no more “broken” and in need of “fixing” than we all are, but may need a different kind of help to achieve their own goals than others do.

I believe that we are all in transition from what we are now into what we will be and what God is making us to be.  I believe that there is hope for me to become a better Christ-follower, a better mom, a better friend.  I believe that there is hope for my children to become what only they can uniquely be and hope for me to help enable them to become those people.