Yesterday morning, I posed a question on Facebook. Here is what it said:
“Only 12% of Americans have a disability. Only 2% of those are actually paralyzed. Is it worth my time and efforts to be an advocate, educator and friend to such a small percentage?”
The replies I received were overwhelmingly encouraging. The faces of many of those voices I know deal personally with a disability themselves, or with a very close relative. To hear them all proclaim more than just a yes, and to answer with well written reasons that yes, a voice is needed, bolstered my resolve to continue in this journey. It is a path that needs blazed. I personally believe it was started by Jesus Christ Himself in His loving treatment of those who were outcasts in that society.
I think I accidentally scared a few of my friends. If I did, I apologize. I have no intention, or temptation, to stop what I feel pulsates through every beat of my heart. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is my calling in life – to speak for those who are seldom heard. The sweetest phrase that was repeated yesterday was “if it only helps one, it is worth it.” Amen to that. I posted it, in my mind, as a rhetorical question preparing for this blog post today.
I have just come off a whirlwind weekend that was exhausting and most gratifying. I drove to Georgia to see a friend who was paralyzed not too long ago. While there, we dealt with a local firefighter who just got home from the hospital and they messed his catheter order up. A great friend from the support group I direct, jumped on the phones and we got a great connection going and helped this guy get through the weekend. After posting about that on Facebook, I started a conversation with a mom whose family was in a horrific accident that killed her 5 year old and paralyzed her 2 and 7 year old children. She is also having catheter and trachea issues and I am trying to help her out. I shot an email out to a friend that just got his trach taken out to see if they had connections to help this new mom. They had a connection to a family in FL that had also been in a wreck that killed their little girl, paralyzed their son and seriously injured their other 2 children. Now, we have connected the mom in KY to the family in FL. Why? Because a few people care about a very small percentage!
I have been sorting things out in our family life since the new year. I wear a lot of hats and I am happy to do them all. I also have to take care of my own health so that I can be here for the most important people in my life – my family! I also know that taking care of me physically, is also taking care of me emotionally. Working with and for the disabled is so therapeutic for me. It is truly a balm for my soul.
The small percentage is absolutely vital.
I remember a story in the Bible about a man named Bartimaus. He was blind and as custom had it in those days, would be taken out to beg as his way of helping to make a living. He heard that Jesus was near and since he could not see, he started yelling, “JESUS!! Have mercy on me!” Those around, who were leading the way to Jesus told Bartimaus to “Be quiet.” But Bartimaus yelled even louder. Jesus heard Him, called Him forward and healed him. Do you think that one voice in the midst of the multitude meant something to Jesus? Yes it did.
Jesus’ whole ministry really involved dealing with the small percentages that no one else cared about or swept under a rug. Jesus always had time for them. He dealt with sick children, He dealt with old mother-in-laws, he dealt with prostitutes and harlots, and he dealt with the stinking, rotting flesh of the lepers. He saw the blind, heard the deaf, and walked to the paralyzed. All around were masses of normal people. Constantly around were the scowls and murmurs of the religious. But the stories that move us are the ones where Jesus focused and came to the small percentages – the poor, the lame, the blind, the hungry, the imprisoned. And He told us to seek them also!
Will you allow me to bring up a small percentage that has very little voice in our spiritual lives? It is the voice of the spiritually abused. We have all been guilty of spiritual manipulation. We have all been guilty of spiritual blackmail. We have all been guilty of plucking out Bible verses, completely out of context, to make a hammered point to make someone feel guilty about not doing what we say. All of those things are spiritual abuse and we have all been guilty at one point or another of hurting others. Even though we have all been guilty of spiritual abuse, that doesn’t make everyone spiritual abusers. To do something as individual acts because you are human is one thing. To develop a pattern or habit or these things is what makes you an abuser.
A spiritual abuser is one who makes it their normal practice to twist and manipulate God’s precious Word to get their own way or to meet their own personal agendas. Most of these people, in my opinion, are extremely insecure, fearful and full of pride. Their pride demands that they be at the top. Their insecurity makes them afraid that it will never happen. It is not okay to be viewed as a failure or not successful, so they begin to move and shake things until it they arrive. The bloody bodies they leave scattered across that path of success are disturbing. If you dare to speak up against it, you are kicked and beaten again until you are afraid to say anything else. No, not physically. Spiritually. The spiritual abusers have created many silent hypocrits. The perform like the master says because they don’t want to be the one to rock the boat…or be proclaimed a dividing liberal.
The spiritually abused are truly a small percentage. So many precious people have shared with us how they “were in a place like that once but now are in such a wonderful church.” Praise the Lord for that! There are sincere, God-honoring pastors and church members alike. But there is also that small percentage that are afraid and do not know where to turn. Do you leave them bleeding on the side of the road? Not according to Jesus and the story of the Good Samaritan.
My husband has been blogging for some time about this small percentage in Christianity. It is the group of those who have been in spiritually abusive relationships – whether that is in a church, in a family, or even in marriages (it happens!). Hundreds have written sharing their heartbreaks over living in a church relationship that has been horribly abusive and manipulative. At times it has been horrific and obvious and at other times, it has been subtle and deceptive. They have spanned the independent Baptist world and have crossed into other denominations. We are not alone in this problem.
Pastor’s and their families have had their own share of spiritual abuse from church members! It is easy to demonize the pastor’s and leadership of these churches (and the emphasis is important because of the leadership position), but abuse can always be two sided. There are members that connive, lie, manipulate, twist Scripture and distort truth to get their way or make their Pastor a puppet, just as there are Pastors who have done this to members. Let’s not get stuck in the church either. Christians have done this to one another, parents to children, children to parents, church member to church member and the list goes on. Some have left these abusive relationships and found true freedom in Christ. This is a good thing as this is exactly what God’s Word teaches we are to have!
Jimmy does not need me to defend him, nor would I because truth needs no defense, but I think there is such a beautiful parallel to my disability world. My husband has been asked if that blog is truly worth his time. Is it truly even helping anyone? The questions are fair and have been asked with good motives. So, I asked my own question regarding my own small percentage that I focus on. Are the small percentages worth speaking up for? Are they worth advocating for, educating and friending? Yes.
The small percentage is vital.
We each have a calling. We each have a job that others may not understand. We each have a personal connection to both disability and spiritual abuse. We each have a passion that God has placed within us to help hurting people. We each have a voice to use for those who have been pushed aside, hushed, and treated terribly. It is not our job to point people to us to rescue them. It is our job to pick up the wounded, love on them, and take them straight to the Great Physician. It is not our job to teach others how to become victims. It is, instead, our job to show them that through Jesus Christ, our only Master, we have victory!
Yes, we will fight for the small percentages. Why? Because we are only two small people in this great big world. That’s a pretty small percentage. But Jesus would have come just for us, to give His life for us, so we could spend eternity with Him.
The small percentage was vital to Him, and it is vital to us.