Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Within the span of about five hours yesterday, I met and talked with three people with disabilities. Each meeting was a gift, but the first one especially so. Whenever she and I meet "accidentally," I know that God is smiling directly on me. Her name is Kathy* and she is a quadriplegic, this happened years ago when her son was a baby, and in that process, she went through a divorce. Imagine: single mom, quadriplegic--overwhelming. Kathy and I met through a local Bible study. She is kind, warm, understanding, patient and extremely funny. It would not be an understatement to say that I love her. And when I say she's God's gift to me, she's like this ray of sunshine. A few months ago, I was struggling, bad. She called me and prayed with me and that was it--100% better.
The second run-in happened in the produce section at Kroger. I reached down for the ginger, a young man immediately struck up a conversation about marathons, half-marathons and triathlons--you know, all the stuff I do regularly and know a ton about (ha), maybe he saw my running shoes? He told me his competition line-up for the Spring, Summer and into the Fall, I was blown away, the conversation was mostly one-sided and that was just fine, I'm not a big talker, but I did notice something different, and when he said that he was the first autistic runner for this Autism Awareness organization, the puzzle came together. He talked of traveling and competing out West, I asked him about his experience running the Boston Marathon in 2013. It was fascinating--then Jeremy got pulled away by his job.
A few hours later, I was at my friend's art opening. She is a photographer and this is her master's project, after that--graduation. When the artist was younger, she was diagnosed with an astigmatism that has caused her to have worsening eyesight as she has gotten older. This last year she started spending more time at the Atlanta Center for the Visually Impaired, listening to stories, forming friendships, hearing how this community has felt marginalized, and in their words, treated less than human. She was inspired by the stories and decided to make a show dedicated to them, with the goal of bringing the sighted and visually impaired community together.
At least half, if not more, of the attendees were blind. My friends and I met a beautiful woman named Gloria who has been blind her whole life and who is a photographer herself. We visited each one of the works together, I got to know her a little bit, she grew up in Arkansas, she homeschools her daughter. She told me she didn't get out much, so a crowd like that was pretty overwhelming. It was overwhelming for me too. She thanked us for letting her tag along; we thanked her for sharing her experience with us.
It is amazing the beauty that God brings out of physical impairments, I can think of one example after another of the extraordinary things that God does out of physical weakness, (His strength made perfect in our weakness.) He uses our spirit, our courage, our strength to inspire others, that no, were are not so different and God is using each one of our stories to bring Him glory.
What an amazing God.
*Names have been changed