At my house, getting out the door, especially to church, is almost an Olympic event. There are wardrobe crises, tired teenager tensions, sibling struggles—at times it’s more a combat zone than a home. I’ve observed many families with the same struggles. But isn’t it amazing how our attitudes change when we finally clamor into church and sit down? Those early-morning entanglements dissipate, and we worship. And no matter what went on before, God is delighted to have us there.
When my son Jon was born with disabilities, the freedom to do things like get out the door with ease was removed. I’d never considered that a freedom until it was lost. But now I hold in high regard those without the freedom of ease . . . ease in movement, seeing, hearing, tying shoes, brushing hair. In his book, Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox describes his morning routine:
I blindly fumble a plastic vial from the nightstand, dry-swallow a couple of pills. . . . I swing my legs around to the side of the bed, and the instant my feet hit the floor, the two of them are in an argument. A condition called “dystonia,” a regular complement to Parkinson’s, cramps my feet severely and curls them inward, pressing my ankles toward the floor and the soles of my feet toward each other as though they were about to close together in prayer. . . . The aching will persist for the next twenty minutes or so. . . .
Grasping the toothpaste is nothing compared to the effort it takes to coordinate the two-handed task of wrangling the toothbrush and strangling out the line of paste onto the bristles.[ref]Michael J. Fox, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (New York: Hyperion, 2009), 2.[/ref]
Fox explains how the disease overtakes the body, affecting his emotions, intellect, and physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Even as I type, I’m reminded to be thankful for the freedom of controlled movement, of small muscles working together.
As I raise Jon, I realize how many freedoms he will never have. Throughout life, he will regularly struggle to get out the door . . . yet, right now on Sundays, he is the one person in our house who doesn’t complain. He puts on his favorite suit and tie and finds no reason to fuss. In that, he is more free than most.
Job recorded these words right after a devastating loss:
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised. (Job 1:21 NIV)
This verse brings to mind a few things we all should remember as we get out the door and face the world.
- To those with bodily ease—praise God for your freedom. It’s a gift, not a right. Call each part of your body to praise Him. Thank Him for your eyes, arms, legs, back, mind . . . every part. When someone else is slow, messy, shaky, or mentally unstable, resist judgment. You have no idea what that person went through just to get out the door.
- To those without bodily ease—I deeply admire you and applaud you for your courage, determination, endurance, and humility. You’re a hero, a person of grand character. You long to be free and whole in heaven, but you’re changing lives right here without saying a word.
- To all of us, with and without bodily ease—learn to love one another, serve one another, and live peacefully together.