Having already been to two church services that Sunday, and with only enough time left for a mile and a halfer, I had to hurry to be on time for the night service there in my home town. I wasn't really concerned when the high-strung mongrels surrounded me, creating a ruckus. I told them to be nice dogs and go away, and they looked like they were about to cooperate. But, then the bulldog came running into the pack with a look that said, "I'm going to show you I mean business, Sister!" Yes, he got the point across that he was not like the other four nervous mixed breeds. He grabbed hold of my calf with his bared teeth three times. I can't believe his teeth didn't penetrate my skin. Just a scratch and minor bruising.
I think he just wanted to scare me. Either way, he wasn't prepared when I shook him off my leg and into the ditch. The other four dogs ran slinking to the curb. The owner came out and gave him a whipping. In the irritation of the moment, I wasn't satisfied. I was thinking, "Kill the viscous mutt!" That was my last trip on foot down Guy Street!
I can remember my firstborn, Matt, playing little league football. He was a tough one. Once, he was tackled pretty hard and his mouth and teeth were a mass of blood and grass. I started towards him across the field, but held myself back when I heard the coach say, "Shake it off Matt, come on boy, don't let 'em stop you like that!" And, with a pat on the back, he sent my boy back out on the line. I stepped back silently, deciding maybe a bloody mouth wasn't a reason to stop playing after all. He's 25 now, and still hasn't stopped, "Shaking it off."
Embroiled in my own physical struggles now, I have found myself time and again trying to do just that, "shake them off." I find myself seriously thinking sometimes that I am going to shake this disease. But, reality grabs me, and pain shakes me right back. I have to admit that I am not capable to shake this in and of my own self. Alone, I am defeated. I have no strength. That hurts my pride. I have always been strong and independent. I would have shaken it off long ago, if I could have done it, in and of myself. But, this beast has me by the teeth, and only God will be able to loose the grips of what has me handicapped.
Dis-abled. Yes, I was "dissed." I was so angry when I was forced off my job. I felt like a dirty dishrag, tossed out as useless. It was like a friend told me several years ago in a former teaching assignment near Atlanta. She noticed that I spent 60 hours a week at work. (I always had a key to the building.) And, she told me I wasn't that needed. She told me that when I worked myself to death, they would step over my body to hire a replacement. I couldn't believe she was so jaded. I was needed. I was sure of it.
It didn't take death to show me I was not that needed. When I got a job in North Georgia, I had to finish out the contract year there of course. And, at the end of the year, I watched as my entire accumulation of Science materials were shoved into a storage closet, since they wouldn't be re-filling my position. I had worked hard for 7 years acquiring and building up all those Science resources to see the students learn. They meant nothing when I was gone. Then, here in my last position, when I refused to leave my job after I was unable to move around easily, and the numbness had set in my lower body and legs, they took my class away right in front of me, and placed me in an auxillary position until they could convince me to sign the disability papers.
Having to ask for what I want is difficult. I never realized how much I relied on being able to take care of things myself. Now, I have things that are in the storage building out back, and in the attic: books, papers, stuff. It feels like they are gone forever. I can not get them myself. I have to ask for them and hope my husband or son will know what it is I am wanting, and that they will be able to find it in the middle of all that stuff. Resources mean nothing when they are not at hand. I always liked to prowl through my stuff and find something to do. Whether building models, or experiments, or constructing timelines, organizing photos into albums, or just putting together puzzles; I was always busy. Now, I miss something that seems so insignificant even writing about it.
But, being dis-abled is not any different for me and you. I just have a firmer grip on what it is I am not able to do; the big things and the smallest things I am no longer able to do. Before, I thought I could do anything. Now, I know that it is not me who is able, but Jesus Christ in me working who will change the course of this disease; in His time.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.