Some years ago, I was at Lion’s World School f/t Blind in Little Rock, AR. While there, I was told an amazing story a woman who had to be hospitalized. Her mother had died and the young woman had no one to care for her. When they brought her in, they found that the woman would need constant care.
What was wrong with her? Was she an invalid or something? I initially imagined something quite severe. It was not the case. What terrifying disability kept her from functioning and enjoying life? She was born totally blind. Somebody call the asylum!
It turns out that the mother has taken enabling to an extreme. She would not allow her daughter to learn essential independent living skills The mother’s behavior has proven to be quite destructive to everyone; including the daughter that she sought to help.
I don’t know if the above story is true or not; except that it smells of urban legend. Yet, it serves as a good illustration of enabling taken to an extreme. In the above scenario, the mother was acting out of an understandable fear for her daughter, who is only born blind and nothing else.
Let’s contrast this with a young man; who is born with his own set of disabilities. In this case, the parents decided to go the opposite direction. They raised the kid to be very independent and not rely on anyone for help. The parents decided that the son would be treated just like everyone else.
I’ll bet this sounds good, to you. Some of you are likely assuming I’m talking about myself. Not quite! Over the years, I discovered that my parents are not the only one to raise me to be self-reliant. There are just two major problems. For one thing, my low vision and hearing impairments could not simply be ignored.
As I consider what to say, I am recalling a scene from Tom Sullivan’s book, “A Memoir of An Eleven Year Old”. The man was born about 10 years earlier than I and Tom went blind shortly after birth. In the story, Tom tells of his father getting a racehorse. His father had no problem putting his blind 11 year old son on that horse and expected him to ride it.
I’m sure my dad would have given some thoughts before putting me on a horse. The horse would likely be one that I could safely handle and someone nearby to help. Yet, this is the same father who let me drive his car on a flat highway in Texas. I have to take some responsibility; as I didn’t see any problems and thought I could do so.
Are you getting the hint? I had serious trouble with admitting to my weaknesses and ignored the reality of the situation. The truth is, I could not do things in the same ways that other people could do. I had to learn to adjust my strategy for doing things.
The second problem is, I was way to independent and could not admit to needing help. How could I? I had to rely upon myself and no one else. I was afraid of admitting to having weaknesses. Oh how foolish of me to think this way.
How does my Heavenly Father view my weakness? Brace yourself:
7-10Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. [2 Cor 12:7-9 The Message]
What! I am to boast in my disabilities? Though I don’t see my disabilities as weaknesses; other people do see it in that fashion. Funny thing is, my Father has a similar problem that my earthly father. God doesn’t see my disabilities.
When I came to Christ Jesus, everything was covered by the blood of the Lamb. When my Father looks at me, all my Father sees is His Son, Jesus. He is not looking at my disabilities, my personality quirks or any other shortcomings. It doesn’t stop here. God wants to do things with me and through me.
At the beginning of this post, I shared the story of a young woman who was totally dependent on her mother. God did not call me, to be wholly dependent on other people. I am to be dependent upon Him. For His Grace is sufficient for me. This is not an easy lesson. With God, there is a great deal of freedom which comes from being dependent upon Him.
At the same time, I am not to sit in a pew and keep it warm. This would be too easy and quite boring. If so, why would Paul say this?
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:12-13]
It is Jesus, who is strengthening me and guiding me. It is the Holy Spirit who is empowering me to do all things to the glory of the Father. Please notice that I’m to do so in HIS strength and not my own power.