Well, folks, this week marks ten years since the accident that permanently damaged my spinal cord and left me paralyzed from the chest down. I didn’t have time to write yesterday, the day of the actual anniversary, but on my mind was something a friend of mine said to me recently.
We’ve only really known each other for a few years now, but not too long ago she asked if it was weird that she didn’t consider me as “being in a wheelchair.” Now, it seems a bit ridiculous at first since I am, quite obviously “in a wheelchair” and have been the entire time I’ve known her, but I think I know what she meant by it.
There is a big difference in the idea we all have in our minds of what life “in a wheelchair” must be like and actually seeing that life lived in person – or living it ourselves.
I’ve mentioned here before that one of the most common reactions I get from people after talking to them for a while about my disability is “wow…well you seem pretty positive despite that.” It’s as if people think that those of us “in wheelchairs” just sit around feeling sorry for ourselves and think about how much better, more complete, our lives would be if only we could walk again. But, honestly, what good would that do us?
We get so caught up in the things that a disability takes away that we lose sight of what is still possible. If you would have told me before my injury that I’d still be enjoying life as a paraplegic and doing many of the same things I could do when I could walk I would never have believed you.
But soon after my injury it became apparent to me that life “in a wheelchair” is still just that…life, no better, no worse.
Sure it has some challenges and limitations, but it is just as capable of being lived and enjoyed as life with an “able body” is. We may not be able to feel or voluntarily control some or all of our extremities, but we’re still human beings, we’re still alive and our lives still have meaning and infinite value.
Here’s to 10 years well lived. And Here’s to many more! (raising my glass)
dear chelsea, i am so glad that pam posted your observations on your 10 th anniversary. tho i have only known you a short time, i can heartily concur with your friend’s thoughts that she does not think of you as a person “in a wheelchair”. congratulations on this anniversay seems like an odd sentiment but i hope you will understand that it is meant as congratulations on living life well and for meeting the challenges i’m sure you have addressed and continue to address every day. thanks for sharing your thoughts on this anniversary. and have a blessed, holy christmas. jan boyle, mrl
Amen, my sister in Christ! I have Cerebral Palsy, and I so resonate with what you have written in this post. The fact that I use a wheelchair and have certain physical challenges does not make my life “a waste” or fundamentally tragic. In many ways, I am actually thankful for having a disability– who knows how selfish and lacking in compassion I might be if I *didn’t* have CP (when I’m already sinful enough as it is)? I do greatly look forward to the day when I will have a glorified body– but in this life, God has chosen that He would be glorified in my life *through* my disability and my rejoicing in the midst of it.
On another note, I ask for your prayers, as I am a Reformed Protestant Christian who is coming more and more to the conclusion that the Catholic Church may well be the Church that Christ founded, with continuing apostolic succession to this day. However, if or when I leave my Reformed church background, I will probably be accused by most of my Protestant friends of “abandoning the true Gospel for Catholic salvation by works.” I now know that such claims are not true of Catholicism, but it will still be very hard to possibly lose most of my current Christian friends. None of my family is Catholic either, so humanly speaking, if I do go to the Church, I will truly be “going this alone.” Your prayers would be so appreciated. Thank you, my sister in Christ! Along with Conversion Diary, your blog is becoming a favourite of mine! God bless you!
Christopher – you will definitely be in my prayers! Welcome (almost) Home!