It’s the disability thing.. if you are disabled, you cannot join the intellectual discussions or the theological debate in society. Especially so, if you have a mind illness of some sort. You are definitely not suitable to debate issues or pass comment on spiritual questions.
Disability is a label. It is a means of quickly judging someone and allocating them to their suitable status. The judgment is carried out by just about everyone. A person might be medically assessed and professional people are given the right to decide certain things about the disabled person. But also in life, people who meet or do activities with the disabled person, also make their own judgments- as do we all about each other.
No one knows what a person thinks. You might judge behaviour over a period of time and get to know habits and thought patterns that are acted out in life. But there is so much about a person we do not know. Neither do we have the ability to search the heart. Knowing our own intentions is difficult enough, but ascertaining the will of another person is impossible.
Human beings have the facility of language, Our language ability is a means of communicating and finding out about each other. God gave this facility so there would be some means of having meaningful relationships with each other. It is good to talk, but there is also the possibility of misunderstanding or communicating untruth. God knows what all our motivations and intention are and He is the judge of these things. We do not have this ability, but if we seek Him and seek wisdom, we do get some ability to judge why people do things. It is very complicated and we are easily wrong. We should practice extreme caution in passing judgment.
Physical inability to do certain things, often brings extra ability to do other things. A blind person can develop amazing powers of memory, or other senses. Watching the athletes in the alternative Olympics, is truly amazing. Human ingenuity can solve huge problems by finding solutions that take the breath away.
Disability in the mind area, is very sensitive to deal with. People who suffer in this way are discriminated against and face the huge stigma attached to their particular suffering. This disability is often hidden, as it is very painful to face the prejudices of other people. This disability carries much sorrow and exclusion and separation from social situations. The prejudice of so-called “sane” people or “rational” people, causes all sorts of problems and hurts.
However, minds that get ill are also able to think differently and creatively about life and can solve seemingly unsolvable problems. To regard a mind sufferer as “less” or “sick” is a big mistake. To have a flexible and creative mind, is what helps the sufferer to bear these ills. Creativity is an amazing gift and educational thought places this ability at the top of the skills hierarchies. Everyone has it in some way, but those who suffer mind illness, often have a greater ability for all kinds of creative thoughts and ideas. The disability can work out to be a “gift.” This is a surprising truth.
To label a person as “disabled” is a tricky business. The process tends to elevate the person judging and put down the person with the judged difficulty. We set up hierarchical structures very quickly and take judgment upon our shoulders readily. People enjoy power over others and find personal satisfaction in “managing” other people. It is easy to give out labels to people, and easy to aquire one too. The idea of focusing on who people are, is not the attitude of the capitalistic culture which we live in. Where money is king, people become pawns in the process of making it. If a person is unable to give most of their effort to the production process, they have little value- some have none.
We do not judge people as God sees them, nor do we value godliness and charity in our culture either. Even in the realm of spiritual work, we look for people who can contribute money or an ability we think is good. Older Christians or the sick or “disabled” are not much use. We betray our worldly attitudes and our own thought processes that are ungodly, yet “rational.” The people who knew God most personally and deeply in Scripture, did not think and behave like the acceptable norm of their cultural group. They were often castaways. Jesus was labelled as “out of His mind” by His own sisters and brothers. The Apostle Paul talked about being “out of his mind” for Christ. Clearly God does not regard this disability as a feature that keeps His people away from Him. As in so many things, God does not see eye-to-eye with us. Many are glad about that.!
When will it be that those who have insight into mind illness and can fight that fight on both sides of the coin, be valued.? Probably never. It would be too intimidating for those who live on one level. The media keeps sufferers down and portrays them as anti-social misfits. Some do fit that description, but so many more are denied the ability to add to the richness of life of ordinary folk… the greatest Artists, Musicians, Actors, Mathematicians, Scientists, in fact any area of human endeavour, have people who thought and felt differently and pushed the boundaries of ideas. It is these people who make the difference. It is they who display mind illness.
In the Scripture, it is those who rejected the usual and accepted culture, belief and behaviours, and struck out to follow God, who made the difference. Were they out of their minds? Certainly. They regarded friendship with God to be better than all the riches that were offered to them.
“[Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”. Hebrews 11:26-27 NIV
Moses saw God. Try discussing that with your Psychiatrist..!
They made choices against the grain of the culture they lived in.
“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16 NIV
They looked for a place “unseen” yet could “see” it with the minds eye of faith…
Again, to many this sounds like Psychiatric hospital time…!!
They were willing to forgo all the comfort that life offered to them, so that they could have a more glorious resurrection. Fairy tales, as so many say, but spiritual realities to those who see with the insight God gives.
It makes me wonder about the term “disability.” The greatest disability we all possess and struggle with, is our sinful selves. That is the one thing that will certainly keep us out of heaven and unending joy. Yet we choose it above these glories. We are not stupid, but we are foolish beyond belief, and choose the way of destruction rather than give up that one thing that guarantees our place in despair. The disability of folly is the greatest drawback and needs to be called out.
Our only problem is that we don’t recognise our folly, and we even celebrate it.!
Our human failings may cause sympathy but sin must be starved out and out to death. O that we could revoke our folly so that we can have minds filled with Christ.