I know a lot of people might have a hard time believing that I have faith. Frankly, it took me a while to figure it out, too—22 years in fact. I’m still figuring it out. How could someone like me—meaning, in a wheelchair, with this disease that no one really understands and problems too complicated to even bother discussing—feel anything but anger towards God?
For a long time, that I was all I felt. Anger. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe, I just kept turning away. After all, what I had done to be warranted with this disability at birth?! I hadn’t been alive to do anything wrong! For a long time, I looked at it as some kind of punishment. But, at least I believed.
I had even been known to pray in times of extreme distress. But, it certainly wasn’t a daily ritual. I didn’t attend church; it bored me. And, I had a lot of negative ideas about churches, based on my previous experiences. I still have a lot of negative ideas about churches, based on previous experience. I can’t erase those experiences or those ideas. I can, however, come to terms with them and be comfortable with having those ideas.
That’s one thing I do dislike about many churches. The congregations tend to make newcomers feel uncomfortable with their thoughts and ideas if they differ from that of the church. I don’t believe that is fair. Although I consider myself a Christian and agree with most of the Christian doctrine, I have several beliefs that differ from typical Christian ideas and I know many people would want to challenge those ideas rather than respect those ideas.
But, this isn’t the forum where I air all of my ideas and let everyone into my beliefs. I won’t preach to anyone about anything unless they ask me my true opinion and genuinely seem to want it. I refuse to push my ideas on anyone because I would not appreciate anyone pushing their ideas on me. That, I find, is one the inherent problems that has caused so much turmoil between different religions. What I feel needs to be realized is that, at the core of almost every religious movement, is the idea that a higher power has created this world and all the things and creatures therein and has a hand in all the events affecting the aforementioned. All that is really different are the ways that belief is celebrated.
Doesn’t that sound so similar to the way the disabled have been treated for centuries? Because we are different, because the way we do things is different, we are seen by many as an obstacle to the way life “should be”. A few differences make us “wrong” in the eyes of those around us. Of course, I may be the only one who thinks this way, but I don’t believe that I am.
How I can have faith in the midst of my not-so-average life? It has taken me years and several failed attempts. I have tried before to turn to God and really make spirituality and religion a part of my life, and I have failed. Anger has been a huge part of my life, unfortunately, because I never knew how to deal with the unfairness of my situation. No one likes to hear, “Life isn’t fair,” when one is in the throes of unfairness. A lot of my anger was and still is directed at God. I have questions that haven’t been answered and most likely never will be. I’m not one who deals well with unanswered questions. I like knowing why and how and all of those other minute details. Not having my questions answered frustrates me. Not knowing why I was put in the situation makes me incredibly angry! Somewhere deep down, however, deep down, I know there is a reason—or many—behind it all.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons. I can reach out to people who are like me, who are in similar situations and let them know what I’ve spent 21 years searching for: the people out there who “get it”. There are some people who understand what is going on. Also, I can reach out to those people who aren’t in a similar situation. The non-disabled population, in particular. I have learned that approaching someone with a disability or being thrown into a situation with a disabled person can be daunting. Not knowing what to say or what to do or what to expect is scary for anyone, disabled or not. I’m hoping that I can reach out to those who haven’t yet been put in that position and teach them something. I thank God for the opportunities He has brought me so that I am able to do that.
My faith also comes from the realization that I am blessed. I know, it seems ironic. And yes, I have those “why me” moments when I don’t give a damn how blessed I am, I just want to feel bad for a while. Then again, everyone has those.
I’ve come to see that I am blessed, despite those moments. I am able to do so many more things than a majority of people who are disabled. I can drive, I’m going to a wonderful university, I’m doing the things I love, I have wonderful friends and family. For the most part, I’ve lived a normal life. Sure, I will always look back and know that there are things I have missed out on. That I might have grown up somewhat faster than my friends in some aspects while staying light years behind them in others. Except for a few things, there isn’t much I could ask for. That’s a universal feeling, too: wanting what we don’t have, never feeling like we have enough. But, I have faith now that God will bring me what I need and what is meant to be. He’s done so already, which I see more clearly now.
So, yes, I have faith. But, I’m only speaking for myself. I don’t know if other disabled people, or just other people in general, have faith or what faith they might have. I’m just happy to know that it is possible and that I can achieve it. I still have a long way to go. I look at some of my friends who are so deeply spiritual and am jealous. Then again, I have faith that with them helping me, I can get there, too.