The human body has many parts. The foot might say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body.” But saying this would not stop the foot from being a part of the body. The ear might say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body.” But saying this would not stop the ear from being a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, it would not be able to hear. If the whole body were an ear, it would not be able to smell. If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But truly God put all the parts, each one of them, in the body as he wanted them. So then there are many parts, but only one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the foot, “I don’t need you!” No! Those parts of the body that seem to be the weaker are really necessary. And the parts of the body we think are less deserving are the parts to which we give the most honor. We give special respect to the parts we want to hide. The more respectable parts of our body need no special care. But God put the body together and gave more honor to the parts that need it so our body would not be divided. God wanted the different parts to care the same for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor.
Together you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of that body.
"Those people." Is there any more marginalizing or insulting phrase to a group of individuals? Yet, it is used all the time to set apart populations that deviate from the majority.
I think it is that sting that has motivated me over the past 14 years to serve parents raising children with a diagnosis. It seems that there are camps and programs and research and fundraisers galore for our children. That's important! But then there are "those people" who are raising them. They fly under the radar of most on the average day, the brunt of much criticism and a heavy load, no one caring much about THEIR special needs.
I once had a conversation with a mother whose pain was palpable. She expressed her frustration, "WHY is it always up to the parents? I swear, no one serves parents like us unless they have had someone in their own family who has had special needs. We are always left to care for ourselves."
I wish I could say she was wrong. Unfortunately, I would have to agree. And the parents leading the charge to help and support other parents are usually not a part of what I call "the beautiful people." In other words, if a couple is popular, affluent, and receives ample help from family or friends, they're not too motivated to help others struggling with this daily challenge of helping a child with a disability or chronic illness to reach their full potential.
What makes me most sad is that there are many PASTORS who are part of that "beautiful people" club. These are pastors who have a child or children with disabilities or special needs, but have ample help. Because people clamor to attach themselves to the pastor of a church, these pastors don't identify with how their non-pastoral parent peers are treading water. They would say with their lips that they see the value in special needs or caregivers ministry, but they do little to actually support or advance it. I guess these situations always wound my heart because they seem to be opportunities missed, a relatable mission field right in our midst overlooked.
I don't know that I have any true answers for people in this meditation today, other than to bring attention to the issue. It should also be a call for us to commit to serious prayer.
What the world needs to know is that The Body of Christ is incomplete without those who live on the margins: That includes people with disabilities and their parents. Yet, I hear too many stories of special needs parents either taking turns going to church in shifts each week or giving up on church altogether. I see already depleted parents serving other depleted parents because they understand how tough the journey and how high the need.
What if the Body of Christ, the Church, actually LIVED what they claim to believe on Sundays? What if Christians actually stopped acting like a religious country club and embraced some discomfort in order to bring some measure of comfort to hurting mothers and fathers? What if people stopped with superficial charity and actually invited these families over for dinner or out to a ball game? What if they stepped into our mess instead of avoiding us like the plague?
In these verses from 1 Corinthians 12, I am always astonished by verses 22 and 23, "No! Those parts of the body that seem to be the weaker are really necessary. And the parts of the body we think are less deserving are the parts to which we give the most honor. We give special respect to the parts we want to hide." Church, ARE we giving those "parts" (aka special needs parents) more honor? Are we giving these mothers and fathers more respect? Or are we just treating them like the rest of the world does, like they are unworthy and incompetent? Are we going out of our way for them, or are we disinterested because they simply aren't as engaging of a cause as an overseas missions trip?
I'll step off my soapbox now, but oh, what I wouldn't give for more help. I pray for people to set aside their compassion fatigue or their fear of families like mine. I pray for the typical world to get over itself and to step into our mess. I pray for a lifeline from those God commands to HELP. Because the truth is that parents like me are just so weary, and we can't do it all by ourselves.
PRAY: LORD of the harvest, send more workers! Jesus open the eyes and the hearts of those in the typical world, especially within Your Church, that they would see the need and come alongside parents raising remarkable children. There is simply not enough of us to go around.
~ Barb Dittrich
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