I pulled my car into its usual spot. Hasn’t always been my spot, and I have to admit, I don’t like parking here. But sometimes we have to deal with the cards dealt to us. My “new normal” dictates I get out of my car. Sometimes slowly. Other times normally. I have to pace myself like never before. But God is so good. All the time. He knows how to sustain us. Through anything. Any trial. Any challenge.
The parking lot is crowded. The rain is pouring and I’m going on with errands I’ve got to run. No one can see what it feels like to be me. I imagine, no one always understands what it is like to be you. Beloved, God does.
A car pulls up behind me and the occupant inside yells, “Hey you have no right to park there!”
I’m thinking, Here we go again. This isn’t the first time someone’s gotten mad at me for parking in a disabled parking slot. Reserved for those who struggle.
“Actually I do have a ‘right to park here’ although I wish I didn’t have that right.”
She is obviously irritated and shouts, “Miss, you look just fine and obviously have no right to park there!”
A bystander quips at the grumpy car occupant who had just yelled at me, “You’re mean!”
I wanted to shout back at the lady like the bystander did on my behalf, but instead I contained myself and walked over to this angry lady. I gently looked at her disparaging eyes. “I had close to one million dollars worth of medical care to remove a wicked brain tumor. I was in the hospital for eight weeks. My family was called to my side three times.
Defying medical odds, I returned home to a twenty week rehabilitative challenge learning how to walk, talk, eat, think, and function again. I sustained brain trauma, yet miracles still happen. You cannot see it, but I am disabled and now I am going to be transparent with you. Please don’t yell at people parking in a disabled spot. If they have a valid disabled tag in their window, they have a right to park there. Believe me, I bet they wish they didn’t have to.”
Tender responses can diffuse someone beginning to boil with anger. Rage is ugly. Tenderness is beautiful.
“Well, I still don’t think you should park there.”
“Have a good day,” I whispered.
She got quiet. Really quiet. Said nothing to me. Turned her head away from me. Rolled up her window and drove off.
An older couple, also parked in the disabled section, stopped and came up to me, “Don’t listen to people like that, honey.”
“Thanks.” I did my best to smile.
As I walked away, tears began to fill my eyes. Why are some people so mean and others so kind? God, why did You allow that ugly brain tumor to occupy my head? I wish I was more like all of the abled people around me. There has to be something more to be gained from suffering than a grumpy woman yelling at me because I parked in that handicapped spot.
I went on with my shopping. Our home needed food and supplies. I was thankful — God provides.
Help was at home. My sons unpacked the car. I was exhausted.
Yet, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
You know, all of us have some sort of disability, incapacity, impairment, abnormality, or affliction. Please don’t misunderstand me. Some of us are wheelchair-bound, use walkers, and have profound and noticeable disabilities. My heart goes out to the disabled, physically and mentally.
But behind our smile curtains, I think we all have some sort or a certain degree of disability. Stay with me for a moment. Some of us are shy. Some of us deal with addictions. Some of us have temperament issues. Some of us envy to much. Some of us doubt too much. Some of us lack determination. Some of us are self-centered.
All of us sin. None of us are immune to it —and sin is kind of like a disability. A spiritual one. It can chain us down. Bring us to our knees, thinking we’re not capable.
But Beloved, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It doesn’t mean He will always remove our physical or emotional disabilities permanently. Through challenges, we can become stronger. Through challenges, God can take moments that we want pity and make us rise to help someone else. Or maybe He uses our brokenness to get our attention and to redirect our focus onto Him. Shattered moments can become blessed moments when we let God handle the restoration. But one disability God can remove eternally is sin. We simply need to call Him near and love Him back. Accepting Him into our broken hearts makes us new.
Hope in Him,