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If you've watched the documentary The Dropbox, you will be familiar with the title of this article. The pastor that is the lead in the documentary has a severely mentally and physically disabled son, not to mention many adopted disabled children that have been brought to him to care for. There is a point in the documentary when he begins talking about the disabled as the "teachers of society", and how we can learn so much from them. Ever since seeing the documentary, that phrase has been rolling around in my head. It struck me as a game changer in the way we should view disabled people. Here is a quote from the pastor:
"At one time I asked, 'Why did God give me “that kind of baby?”' It wasn’t even 30 seconds before I repented. Through my son, I felt the value of a human. Through my son I learned of life’s dignity...
God sent them to earth with their disabilities. They’re not the unnecessary ones. They teach people. They live with smiles on their faces."
I haven't spent a great deal of time around disabled people, although I did work with Alzheimer's patients for 4 and a half years. I can honestly say that I learned how to really love in those days. I was confronted with people that could give me (seemingly) nothing back, and yet I was being called to treat them just as well as I would treat anyone else. They required much more, and they didn't even have their wits about them long enough to thank me. It was forgotten hard work, and emotionally draining. Still, at the same time, it was the most fulfilling work I've ever done. I got to watch these people live in a way that seemed so unfair, and yet all they wanted, like everyone else on this planet, was to be loved. They lived with so much less than I personally thought necessary in my own life to be happy, yet they didn't complain. And I loved these people deeper than I expected to, just because of who they were. Their vulnerability dug it's way into my heart in a way that few "normal" people have been able to, because I was able to see their worth at the most basic level, as a human.
Disabled people may not have willingly chosen a harder life, but they are living one that isn't as privileged as the majority. They are generally not what our society would label as "beautiful", and perhaps their wits don't match the standard for "clever". They get stared at more than talked with. Beyond that, most require more than they seem to give to this world. Yet they live lives that are worth every bit as much as yours or mine. It was a wake up call for me to consider that, not only should we love the disabled, but we should be afraid of a society that doesn't have them. As long as there is sin in this world, we need something to ground and humble us, to remind us that we can be thankful with much less than what we've been given. I used to be a little afraid of disabled people because they were different, and would avoid eye-contact. The pastor in the documentary changed my thinking though. I now want to give them the dignity and respect they deserve, and learn from them.