Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 Things You Shouldn't Say To Someone in a Wheelchair (Or Maybe You Should)!

Hello Everyone,

It’s been quite a while since I have written a stand alone blog post, but I am very excited about what I have to share with you today!  A few week ago, I read an insightful article entitled 10 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair.”   I encourage you to read it, but I also wanted to share my perspective on this topic.  Some of mine will be slightly different, but my hope is that this will give you a new perspective on how to interact with the disabled community.  God bless you all! 

1. "You're Really Pretty for Someone in a Wheelchair."

I would hope that I never get called pretty.  Though I have been told I have a face for radio, I don’t think it had anything to do with my disability! :)  We all see the outward appearance and tend to react on that basis.  May we all seek to see people (whether disabled or not) the way God does! 

“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

2. "I Had to Use a Wheelchair When I Broke My Leg, So I Know Exactly What You're Going Through."

Unless you’ve spent your whole life in a wheelchair you most certainly don’t know what I am going through.  That being said, I hope that your brief stint in a wheelchair will help you gain a greater appreciation for what I (and others like me) go through on a daily basis. Every one of us would be better off if we would seek understanding from God in our dealing with one another.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

3. "You're an Inspiration."

Some people make may take offense to this but I don’t.  I will say that it takes me by surprise at times though.  From my perspective I just try to do the things I love, (i.e. preaching God’s word, podcasting, radio, volunteering at school, theater, etc) and don’t think specifically about whether it is inspiring or courageous.  However when someone voices their opinions to this end, it serves to remind me that God has a purpose in allowing me to continue to live with the limitations He has given me—most importantly to show forth the power of The True and Living God!

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)      

4. "I Was Only Parked There for a Minute."

The interesting thing about this one is that I am often more relaxed about this than the people who are with me when I am looking for a parking spot.  The only time this really matters to me is when it’s cold outside or it is an extremely busy public event.  I think the biggest principle here is just to put others first and to try to think about the impact your actions may have on others.  

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:3-5)

5. "Everything Happens for a Reason."

The irony of this statement is that not only do I emphatically agree with this one, it has also become the centerpiece of my testimony.  I struggled with this for a lot of years, but I have come to realize that everything DOES INDEED happen for a reason.  It is only as we come to terms with this that we can live a life of purpose and significance.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:28-29)  

6. "Here, Let Me Help You!" [Rushes to My Side Frantically]

This is an interesting one.  It is easy to understand how this could be offensive to some, but let’s unpack this a little bit.  I think it’s important to realize that everyone needs help.  I think there are a couple points to be made here. 

1.  The best way to know how to help is to ask.  If you don’t ask, both of us could miss out on a valuable growth opportunity and perhaps a life-long friendship.  My prayer is that this article will lead people to take action on this point and that it will help to bridge the gap between the disabled and the able-bodied.

2.  For those of us in a chair, I think it’s important for us to be willing to ask for help.  It took me far too long to realize how freeing this can be.  I was recently able to do a play at Master Arts Theatre precisely because I was willing to ask for help.  I was so very thankful for the many people who contributed to my success on this project.

At this point, I have a slight confession to make.  If a pretty girl wants to help me, she can do so at any time! ;)  She may find that I am a pretty neat guy and be swept away by my charm.  At that point, the rest could be history. (But I digress. LOL)  Suffice it to say that God wants us all to be gracious in the way we give and receive help.

“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)         

7. "It's Good to See You Out."

This is another one that has more relevance than some people realize.  There are I’m sure plenty of people who aren’t motivated to overcome their circumstances, and plenty of others who chose not to let their circumstances define them.  I choose to live above my circumstances and as I have said before, if this encourages people, I am so glad!

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)   

8. "You Have Found Yourself a Real Stand-Up Guy/Girl."

The blogger that I am responding to made the point that in her mind, she simply found someone who loves her and that it’s not a big deal.  In many ways, I agree with her.  I am just as capable of being a husband as any other guy.  That being said, I’m pretty sure my interest has scared girls in the past, and it will take a special girl (and future father-in-law) to allow me the chance to prove myself to her.  I am actively praying for and seeking such a wife!

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)   

9. "With Your Effort And Attitude, I Know You'll Walk Again."

I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t believe that it’s God’s will for me to walk this side of heaven. It’s discouraging (and sometimes downright offensive) when someone implies or states directly that “If you had enough faith” or “If you get right with God” you can walk again.  Yes both of these things have been said to me.  Am I perfect? Absolutely not!  But I am right with God because of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and his subsequent resurrection from the dead. 

Also, I firmly believe that God knows what is best for me.  He knows that I need this Thorn in the Flesh to stay close to him and thrive in His Service!!!    

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

10. "Anything in Your Preschool Teacher Voice."

I don’t like being talked down to.  Who would?  One of the most common instances of this for me is when I am out with friends and people assume that I can’t speak for myself.  They ask my family what happened to me, or they ask my friends what I want to eat.  I can speak for myself, and even those who can not would often prefer to be spoken to rather than about.  Many can comprehend more than you think!

“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)

Ultimately I (and others like me) simply want the same considerations you do.  I have the same dreams, drives and determination that many other Christian man have.  I am determined to never give up and to do everything for the glory of my Savior Jesus Christ!  I urge you to do the same!   

Andrew Gommesen

1 comment:

I-61 Project Team said...

Great Post Brother Andrew. Just for the record, you ARE and inspiration, not because of your wheelchair but because of your commitment to the Gospel. Love you Man!