A temporary disability wasn’t in my Christmas plans this year. But, for twelve weeks disability was my reality. And, as only He can do, God has used this trial to teach me 10 valuable lessons.
You can find the first five lessons in part 1 of this blog.
- God provides assurance when we need it most. Several days after learning that my foot wasn’t healing and surgery would be required, I received news that a new book contract was a go after eight months of waiting. Not just any book contract, but the opportunity to co-author a book with Dr. Gary Chapman about how families of kids with special needs can use the five love languages to strengthen their relationships. Though God could have sealed the deal any time during the past 8 months, He chose to do it in the week when I needed assurance of His plans for me to write again.
- Other people don’t see the world as those with disabilities do. God knows exactly what people with disabilities need at any given time, but other people don’t. They don’t know what we can do on our own and how important it is to preserve our independence by allowing us to do those things. And they don’t know what our world is like–that a chair pushed back from the table and toys left on the floor create obstacles; carrying an uncapped, hot drink is impossible; negotiating stairs requires strategically placed help; and so on. Therefore, we have to ask for help only when it’s needed, and we must explain the simple things they can do to help make our life less complicated.
- Slow down. I love planners, to-do lists, efficiency, and multi-tasking. But the gift of disability forced me to shelve the planner for several days after surgery, shorten my to-do lists, accept inefficiency, and redefine multi-tasking into things like wheeling a chair to the kitchen with a grandchild on my lap. Through the process of slowing down, I was challenged to redefined priorities and have gratitude for even the smallest accomplishments.
- Let go. As I slowed down and redefined priorities, I also learned to let go of certain habits and desires. Counter clutter, a prettily set table, Christmas presents neatly wrapped and under the tree early, control of the calendar, and much more went by the wayside this fall. And yet, as I discovered, life is still good.
- God waits to heal the body until He’s healed our hearts. The bone in my foot is healing more slowly than the doctors expected. As one discouraging x-ray followed another, I sensed the Great Physician had more in His prescription for healing than filling the gaps in my foot with new bone. He wanted to fill the gaps in my heart with greater knowledge of Him, greater love for His Son, and greater trust in His plans.
This gift of disability, which was not on my Christmas list, has become something precious. Through 1 set of crutches, 1 wheelchair, 1 walker, 1 surgery, 1 pin, 2 boots, 4 x-rays, 6 doctor appointments, 8 weeks of bearing no weight on the injured foot followed by 4 weeks of partial weight-bearing, and 12 weeks of being unable to drive, this 1 woman is eternally grateful for 10 lessons that showed how high and complete God’s ways are compared to the ways of men.
Jolene Philo grew up with a disabled father and raised a child with special needs. She has also welcomed kids with special needs into her elementary classroom for 25 years. She is the author of several books about special needs parenting, caregiving, and special needs ministry. She blogs at www.DifferentDream.com and speaks around the country about special needs parenting and inclusion ministry. Jolene and her husband live in Iowa, are parents to two adult children, and are known as Grammy Jo and Papoo to their three adorable grandchildren. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.