are more disabled by the society we live in than we are our disability.
am not in my motorized wheelchair, people say I don’t look ill, which tells me
they have a preconceived idea of how I should look and act. Not all
disabilities are visible. There are a plethora of invisible disabilities; however, that should not diminish or be
cause for disregard because of a preconceived idea. For an example of an invisible disability, I will, with some
trepidation, provide information about my struggle living with chronic pain.
serving in the United States Marine Corps, I was injured in 1975, twice, and
subsequently honorably discharged two years later from military service. The
injury was sustained in my back, primarily the lower back. That is an invisible injury that manifests as a visible impairment resulting in a
physical disability. However, the resulting abundance of problems stemming from
that invisible injury created other
invisible disabilities. I suffer from
chronic pain 24 hours a day. I am told decades of chronic pain are responsible for some psychological issues.
pain is much more than just pain. It is disabling. It is isolating, resulting
in adverse effects on my mental health. Many studies have shown the correlation
between the amount of chronic pain suffered, the length of the chronic pain,
and the severity of depression suffered. Some wonder how chronic pain can be
responsible for depression. I have experienced medical doctors who, only
knowing of chronic pain from the medical text, dismissed me as having a pain processing problem. How would you
feel if you had to give up on your dreams for the future? Imagine living your life
having to take low wage employment because of a physical injury the government
claim’s didn’t happen even though the damage is the reason for release from
active duty. Then having to tell employers, friends, family, and strangers you
have a disability that they can’t see? Or not being able to run or even walk
more than a couple of city blocks. All outdoor activity is either completely
off the table or severely limited. Your marriage affected, even to the point of
divorce. You can’t sit or stand for more than 5 or 10 minutes without
experiencing a burning, stabbing, and sometimes crippling pain. The list goes
on, but you probably get the idea.
you live with an invisible disability, you have to tell people because no one
knows you are disabled. Society is not comfortable with people who suffer a
disability, much less a long term disability they can’t see. The way people
treat me speaks volumes to the ignorant or uneducated stereotypes interwoven
into our society. I live and fight with this every minute of every hour of
every day. Somedays medication doesn’t help, and as a result, I isolate myself
physically in an attempt to focus all my attention elsewhere.
for some good news. I believe education and understanding can eradicate the isolation
that those of us with invisible disabilities face on a daily bases. The
education and understanding I mention is a two-way street. Disciples Path
Ministry is focused on helping not only those with disabilities but those
taking the time and making an effort to educate themselves on people with
disabilities. This brief study can only cover highlights and hopefully inspire
you to study further on your own. The following is my coping mechanism learned
over decades of prayer, practice, research, successes, and failures.
have learned throughout my life; the only thing I can always believe in and
depend on 100% is God. Without sounding all preachy, unlike people, God has
never lied or deceived me.
me for who I am and never forgets what I am - human. God sees the man I am
inside. Best of all, He blessed me with a calling He reserved just for me. Not
being born with but acquiring disabilities humbled me. I began to study His
Word. Studying Scripture keeps me humble. I know deep in my heart that what I
understand now is not the final word of the Bible. I once heard something to
the effect of we cannot explain sufficiently and finally the word. We cannot
make finite the infinite. But what better way to serve God than to go on this
quest with no end?
encourage those suffering and those choosing to minister to those suffering to
search Scripture. There is example after example of people with different invisible
disabilities being chosen by God to do things of an epic nature. Start with
Moses and his speech disability. Reflect on his calling and all that God
accomplished through him.
wouldn’t dare compare myself to God’s elect from Scripture, but I know, deep
inside of me, God has called on me to minister to others. Those with invisible
disabilities can and will find peace in God’s Word. If He did it for me, He
would do it for you. How can I be so sure? The Bible tells me so!
from the Letter of James, Jesus’ brother, I want to close this article with
some of his wisdom. He wrote, 2count it all joy, my brothers,
when you meet trials of various kinds. Trials test our faith to make
our spiritual journey complete. 3for you know that the testing of your faith
produces steadfastness.By creating steadfastness in us, it enables Him
to bless us with gifts such as wholeness. We can only become whole through His
grace by becoming and remaining humble and patient. 4And let steadfastness
have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We must trust God, learn, believe, accept, and live our lives, knowing our
disability is a powerful gift of God. The blessing of our disability will
significantly increase our spiritual maturity if we let it.