Outside the Box

I was used to being underestimated before my accident, but ever since, I constantly have the joy of amazing people with my ability to tie my shoes, move across continents, and ride motorcycles. Okay, so the last one was a new adventure this weekend as my friend Hunter made it possible for me to have a ride on the back of his bike. He’s trained as a physio, and he knows the functions necessary and the limits of my disability, so we had a few conversations about the accommodations we’d need to make this happen – the biggest deal being two people to literally lift me from my chair onto the bike.

A couple weeks ago, I had a brief conversation with my new friend who lives in my building about how people often put me in a box based on the visual assessment of my disability. They don’t think I can do anything because I’ve got a wheelchair, and there’s often dismissive or patronizing comments that come along with that. I kinda relish the opportunities to show up those people with things like a motorcycle ride. My new friend and I often greet each other with Mean Girls quotes and share bits of our day or insights on the nature of humanity in our passing interactions. He doesn’t think of me as the disabled woman downstairs, and I don’t think of him as the dude with his own medical issues upstairs. He and his wife do, however, help me out with groceries or errands like many of my other friends. I helped them out a sliver this weekend when his medical condition required intervention, and I spent a lot of time praying for his health just like so many of you pray for mine.

Both of us exist outside the box of our medical issues, but they are still significant to who we are and how we live. I account for the fact that I’m about to drop ten grand on disability related expenses – new wheelchair, new braces, and botox treatments – in the coming months. I’m hopeful insurance will cover all of it, but I also know that it’s not the end of the world to have to go through these annoying fittings for new mobility aids. Best case scenario, I can miraculously stand up and walk tomorrow, but in the meantime, I’ll face the day ahead of me by looking to love God and love others better.

In my quest to love God better, I’ve discovered lots of opportunities to learn how God is bigger than my box of theology – just like I’m bigger than the box of disability people try to put me in. Just as I love shattering expectations, God laughs at me when I try to limit how he might work. This past week, month, summer, year, two years – take your pick – has done so much to show me how big God is and how much he loves me. I was up at 4am this morning unable to sleep, so I called Nick who visited Kandern way back in January. We were talking about theology and how to pray and how God works through prayer and so many other things. It was an invigorating and convicting conversation for both of us. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of challenging and helping Nick grow in how he asks God for miracles in line with our ever deepening understanding of God’s character revealed through Scripture, and I made a flippant comment about someone else believing “God did miracles but not that God still does miracles” based on my interactions with this other person. “Hold up,” Nick said, “Think about me back in January when you made me rethink about how I knew God could do miracles, but I didn’t know that I could ask God to show up and do miracles.” It reframed my entire understanding of the other person. Nick also laughed as we reminisced about how I shattered his box of theology over the course of a couple years and how invigorating that was to his faith and growth towards Jesus.

I’ve had time over this past month to reflect on how God has been gentle in showing me his character is bigger than I can comprehend. I went to Bible college to know about God, and I found an infinitely knowable God who loves me beyond comprehension. I’m incredibly blessed to have the privilege of teaching theology to students and explaining that we can’t know everything about God but we get to encounter a Relational Creator who loves and surprises us at every turn. I try to do it gently, but I’ve been known to shatter boxes of theology in my excitement about this God who enters into history to love me. Nick is one of the resilient ones who thrived when I hammered his ideas of a God in his box of theology, but our conversation this morning reminded me of my need for patience with those in process of seeing God outside their box.

I’ll never forget one of the most important lessons I had in Dr. Hauff’s office in Bible college when he explained to me that Paul’s passage about not eating meat sacrificed to idols was never excusing the mature brothers to not let the immature brothers grow, but rather it was for all of us to love each other well where we were at and grow together. No one is supposed to stay stagnant in their faith; we are all called into deeper encounter and understanding of God. I want to invite you outside the box of your theology with me to see how God does miracles and we can all pray for him to show up in new and beautiful ways in our lives this week. And it’d be great if I could walk again too.

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