I have to admit it, this crutch makes me self-conscious.
I really cannot explain why I am so embarrassed by this crutch.
Maybe it’s because I don’t want people to pity me.
Maybe I feel this way, the not wanting to be pitied, because I have been taught by society to see a physical challenge as something to be pitied.
How did we humans come to score disability as a mark of shame, something to despise and pity?
My condition is only temporary, but I have experienced the rudeness of the able-bodied to whom I have grown invisible, whether on crutch or in a grocery store cart or crutching my way down a street or an store aisle.
I have been run into, almost run into/run over, ignored and passed by.
The rudeness is incomprehensible.
Still, this crutch has taught me to accept the extended grace of others, friends and strangers, without shame.
You see, I keep thinking, “I can do this,” but I can’t, at least not right now.
Now, when someone asks, “Can I help you?” if I really need help, I say “Yes.”
But, on the other hand, I am still capable of handling some things on my own even as others think I can’t or shouldn’t.
Don’t count me out just because it looks like I am down.
I am still here, which tells me His plan is still in place for me, crutch and all.
Last week, as my sister and I checked into a hotel in Dallas, a woman in a battery powered wheel chair was seated near the counter.
I thought I recognized her.
Joni Eareckson Tada.
Then I decided, in normal Donna fashion, “Naaah.”
After a whispered conversation with my sister by the elevator about this woman’s possible identity, I went up to the room while she waited in the lobby.
When my sister came into the room, she said, “That WAS her and she asked about you about and the crutch and she asked for your email, if that’s okay with you!”
A few days later, I received an email:
“Dear Donna… it was so encouraging to see your smile as you walked into the Dallas airport hotel when I was sitting in the lobby — I noticed your cane right away and when I asked your sister, she mentioned you had gone through a recent knee replacement. I am truly sorry that you are dealing with so much pain and discomfort. Donna, I have written a pamphlet on pain management (after 48 years in a wheelchair, I deal with chronic pain), and I would love so send it to you. When you have a chance, please send me your mailing address and I will get it off to you right away. In the meantime, draw comfort from these encouraging words in Psalm 57:1, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” Looking forward to hearing from you… Joni”
Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni and Friends International Disability Center
The crutch seems much less of an issue these days.
It reminds me of God’s amazing grace spoken to me through a woman who has lived with a physical challenge almost all her life while mine is merely a passing moment in time.