To be disabled and Christian, almost seems like an oxymoron at this point. Two of my identity pieces (my disability and my Christian faith) are valuable to me in different ways. Both of them have shaped who I am as a person. Let’s be honest though, the world isn’t exactly making room for the both of them. Sometimes it feels like I cannot be Christian, my body is an object to be healed and prayed over at meetings or randomly when the mood strikes someone. When so much of disability history has been conflated with sin and churches deny disabled people the opportunity to even enter the building.
Churches that permit disabled people often times have a glorified day care disguised as a disability ministry. Euphemisms like “special needs” and “differently abled” and even “touched by a disability” show that churches are tolerant of disabled people’s presence but are bothered by their mere existence. Is disability too abnormal for them? Jesus said, “Love your neighbor” and somewhere along the way people inserted “as long as they look like you.” By no means, do I pretend to sit on a high horse or occupy the moral high ground. I too, have failed to love my neighbor as myself.
But I’m tired, church. I’m tired of having justify that my existence does not need to be prayed away. I’m tired of feeling like I have to down play or deny a part of my identity to feel accepted. I’m weary about how ableism plays a role in white supremacy. Many of you, claim that ableism does not exist- much less white supremacy. While disabled people are anywhere from 30–50% more likely to be victims of police brutality and have a significantly higher chance of dying in this pandemic.
I believe that God is bigger than ableism and all other pervasive systems meant to confine God and gatekeep God’s people. I’m still tired though. I have accepted that disabled Christians are far and few between. However, it does not stop me from hoping that we might cross paths. I’m calling all disabled Christians: here’s to hoping that we meet, give each other hope for the future of the church, and are there to remind each other of the holiness of our existence.