Bearing My Debilitating Cross With Joy

Hi, friends. When catching up with an old friend at a United Methodist event for Rise Against Hunger, my disability came up in conversation, and the friend said something like, “I’m really sorry you have to go through that.” I responded, “Sometimes, I think I’m too happy for a handicapped person.” We laughed about that, but I genuinely meant it.

Life isn’t a constant picnic for anyone. Some view humanity’s collective suffering with a bit of cynical humor–“Life’s a bitch, then you die.” Christians believe that God will somehow work out this messy world by the end, and whatever our struggles may be, the Lord will help us if we seek Him earnestly. [Note: His version of help might vary from our expectation.]

Heaven must receive him [Jesus] until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21, NIV)

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8, NRSV)

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My disability affects my every physical action, so people feel sorry for my situation. The people who pity me don’t know that “it is well with my soul.” I am sincerely happy with my life, despite the flaws. I have so many blessings to balance out the negative.

Every Christian (and person) has unique struggles. Some of you have shared them, and I admire the grace with which many of you bear your crosses.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, NRSV)

Some of you have recovered from the loss of a spouse due to tragic death or unwanted but necessary divorce. Some of you have dealt with mental illness and even attempted suicide. Some of you have served jail time or lived on the streets. Some of you, like me, have chronic disabilities.

Sometimes, I wonder if “being in a wheelchair” will be the heaviest cross I bear in life…I keep thinking that, if so, I’ve cheated the system by feeling this joyful. To be fair, I do fear dying young in the back of my mind, but that’s due to my heart thickness, not my physical mobility.

After reflecting on how many of you have also found the silver lining to the rain cloud, I conclude that a spiritual life/perspective enables a person to find the silver lining of any rain cloud…or at least weather the storm until the sun shines again.

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5, NRSV)

Thanks for reading. God bless you! 

I’m starting a series soon about the different aspects of my disability that I deal with, so stay tuned, hehe.

This is a Christian pop/EDM song. The lyric I love the most is relevant to this post–“I choose JOY!”

35 comments

  1. Wow, I love the perspective you’ve shared here. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the way we tend to treat people with a disability, be it physical or mental. I think it’s definitely important to understand and respond to someone’s needs and how they have to interact with the world, but I’ve always hated pity. There are people with disabilities that have done incredible things for people many “able” people wouldn’t dream of doing. I love the story of John Nash for example, a brilliant mathematician who at one point in his life had to deal with debilitating schizophrenia until he learned how to cope with his symptoms and have a fulfilling life.

    I used to struggle with self-pity a lot myself, like with my insomnia and how it affected my ability to learn while I was going through it, but now I just go, “Whatever, no need to dwell on this little failure because God still loves me.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great perspective with your insomnia, Ada! We all have our crosses to bear, but trust in God changes how we grapple with our struggles. I also appreciate what you said about pity. You’re right that disabled people have accomplished great things! Pity can be degrading, but even more detrimental is self-pity, which is crippling on its own. We have to believe in ourselves the way God does!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My beautiful Lily, i have said this many times and everyday i believe it more and more: YOU WILL CHANGE THE WAY THE WORLD VIEWS A ‘handicapped’ PERSON ! You are so smart, so strong, so outgoing, so fun; you DO NOT fit the stereotype. Just think of how many people have become more comfortable around a wheelchair because of you. Children always want to push you around; they don’t see ‘the chair’ as intimidating. And with one smile, one push, one sermon, one blog, one belly laugh… the world begins to change! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You have so beautifully stated this. Each person has their own struggles but thanks be to God we do not struggle alone. We have those who struggle with similar issues and Jesus to walk with us always…even on the days we are prone to forget He is there.
    I love your song choice too! For King and Country is one of my favorite bands ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love to read your perspective. Your writing has such an aura of joy and inspiration, no matter the topic, and this one certainly touched me.

    I’ve been conversing with another blogger this morning about how often people just seek attention by negative means – using whatever it is that disables them to gain pity and attention with no thought as to how to use those challenges to be a light for others or become stronger for their own sake.

    I have personally seen how God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. I see that in you too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, hun. I definitely understand what you mean–I hate how self-pitying some people with my condition are. I try not to judge their emotions because maybe I’m lucky to not be depressed…but sometimes I think that their life would improve if they took a break from the “woe-is-me” to appreciate certain things, like the family members who dedicate their lives to helping them. Then there’s the ones like me who look on the bright side and inspire others. It’s so much better to choose joy!
      And maybe that choice is easier for me because, as you say, I’ve learned that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, hun! 🙂 We are about 4 hours inland, so we’re not in too much danger, but we are still expecting fast winds and lots of rain! My dad and brother went to the beach to board up our place there, so I hope the coast won’t get obliterated!

      Liked by 1 person

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