There are reminders everywhere that I am in an area of the United States where there is a strong Christian base. Unfortunately, I don't pick this up because people are kinder, drivers are nicer, respect is everywhere. Oddly, one often gets cut off while driving by someone with a sticker of a small child praying at the foot of a cross. The name of Jesus is everywhere on bumper stickers - which is cool, everyone has a right to proclaim their faith.
And it's a big but.
I was rolling my wheelchair down the lane at King Sooper's grocery store and a woman approached me, her husband blushing behind her, and told me that she would be praying for me. Then she offered to 'lay hands' on me right there in the store and ask for Jesus' forgiveness.
And I went in to get raspberries, not tales of ressurection.
I thanked her and told her that there were others more in need of prayer than I was. That my life was fine. "Do you know Jesus, then?" She asked. Her husband looked at me with apology in his eyes.
"Yes, I do," I said.
"Really, and you're still crippled."
Now I was mad. I asked her to please leave me alone and that, when I got over my anger, I would pray for her. She looked confused. "My body is in a wheelchair," I said, "but my soul is free - it's the opposite for you."
That took her a moment.
"How dare you," she blustered.
"Well, how dare you," I returned.
"Come on dear," her husband pulled at her arm.
"At least I can walk," she spat at me. Spat!
"At least I am happy," I responded rising to the fight.
She was gone around the end of the aisle and I was left with my heart racing, tears in my eyes and guilt flowing through me. I don't know how to handle these situations.
Its a day later that I'm writing this and I still get tears in my eyes thinking of her assumption that my faith was invalid, that I was invalid, that I needed her prayers - as if God could not love me without her begging for me.
So, I did pray.
And asked God to forgive me my temper and my quick tongue.
And later, prayed again and thanked God for my temper and my quick tongue.
I think the last one was more honest.
I have a book on my bookshelf entitled, "How to Follow Jesus Without Embarrassing God," by Tony Campolo. It's unfortunate that there would be a market for a book with such a title--but there obviously is and I bought it!
It would have been wonderful to say, "My work is in supporting people who need help with not crossing boundaries or exhibiting inappropriate social behaviour. Can I help you?"
I am somehow embarassed for my town... my wonderful town of Fort Collins that I love. I am appalled at this woman's words and her presumptions. I surround myself with people who have far different views on spirituality and disability and I am shocked when I realized this took place at my neighborhood grocery store. I was brought up in an oppressively religious (not spiritual) household and I struggle to reconcile my beliefs on faith and God with the legalistic doctrine that was preached at me as a child and teenager. Hearing of hypocricy like this does nothing to make me want to embrace anything smacking of religion - quite the opposite. Dave, I heard you speak Tues. and Wed. and have been privileged to hear you several times prior to that. Hearing you speak of God and your spirituality openly, and as if it is just another piece of what makes up your whole person, is very inspiring to me. Please don't let this shamefully inappropriate interaction cloud your view of Colorado... I know you won't!
Alas, having lived in both Canada (British Columbia) and Fort Collins, I recognize the difference living in a country that comes from a PROTESTant stance, and the Canadian love of tradition and liturgy. Such is the way here in Fort Collins. I am sad that such "word of faith" heratics accosted you in our fair grocery stores. I have been kicked out of such churches for suggesting that people read the book of Job, and question one's percieved material prosperity.
However, don't let this color your view of the states, there are inclusive, loving and existential Christians out there too, but we don't go up to strangers and "piously" lay hands on people in King Soopers... Usually I save that for Whole Foods. (read: our IGA's) That was a joke. :)
I appreciate your fresh perspective.
Dear Dave-reminds me of a blog you wrote months ago that talked about the judgemental phrase 'there but for the grace of God, goes I.'As if we(Christians)can definitively say what is a lack of God's grace and what isn't.I'm a Christian and I believe in healing,but I don't believe that all sickness and other trials are a result of Him deliberately witholding His grace.Frances
I so totally identify w/ your experiance. And, here in the Carolinas, it's even worse, trust me!!
I agree with your perspective too. I wish all those people would just leave us alone! How can they consider themselves kindly Christian folk, when they have such honestly ugly views of others?!
I feel sorry for people like that. I mean, my view of God is completely contrary to thier's, but my faith is no less strong!
And i know God loves everyone, thus our disablities should not be seen as some sort of punishment by HIM. And, i refuse to be tricked into believing so.
Those people are not God, and thus they know no more than we do. We all just need to follow our hearts.
I know better than to believe thier babble.
I am at a total loss. WOW! I live in Kentucky, in a small town, near a seminary, and I have never experienced such insensitivity. I have had someone tell me that a missionary they know healed a boy who has T21 in South America...and realized that perhaps they thought Tarenne should be healed too. HA! She's more like Jesus than I could ever hope to be.
Through your writings you share true insight and compassion. I don't know your "religious" affiliation but I am a Christian and feel strongly that you represent my faith very well.
I am sorry that you were hurt by such an ignorant person. She does not know the same God and Jesus that I know!
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