DISABILITY BUILDS FAITH
Popular opinion holds that a disabling life event is likely to destroy a person's faith. A research project studying 26 men and women who had acquired permanent disabilities relegating them to wheelchair living revealed the opposite: 53% found their faith was increased by their disability. 31% "kept their faith" despite the challenges of disability. 8% found faith through their disability. 8% described their faith as "uncertain". 0% lost their faith.
Reactions of the individuals:
1. God-believers experienced God as a 'presence' - someone to talk to, to question, someone who listens.
2. God's help was described as providing, protecting, giving strength, endurance and patience, and understanding their struggles and caring about them.
3. Several believed that God somehow gave them their disability but they did not feel bitter or betrayed.
4. All indicated that 'talking to people gave meaning to their lives.' They agreed that feeling 'lonely' and 'different' is common.
The Wheelchair: 46% (12) hate the wheelchair and want to get out of it. 31% (8) said they accepted wheelchair living. 23% (6) were ambivalent. They both hate it and accept it. 100% agreed that "to walk again" is a dream that never leaves. 69% (18) express a hopeful attitude. 8% held hopeless feelings 23% were mixed with both hopeful and helpless feelings
I find this information to be very interesting. We sympathize with, and feel sorry for, people we see who are dealing with a disability of some sort. This is a natural first reaction. But we should not let those thoughts create a barrier for communication and relationship between us. That would be the sad part. Too often, we feel awkward, and we feel sorry for a person and leave it at that. We don't pursue a connection.
What can you do?
Well, note #4 above: they all felt that meaning was added to their lives by being able to talk to people. So . . . you can talk to them, listen to them, draw them out. And always keep in mind that most of these folks have a sense of hope (not hopelessness.) 'Hope' means not giving up. Hope is fueled by a faith in God. Hope blossoms when friends and family are close, supportive and encouraging