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23 Dec '11

Dear Dad

Posted by T.J. Addington in disabilities, God's Image, suffering, The heart
We often do not realize that of the seven billion people on our planet,  one billion of us are impacted by disabilities, either personally or in our families. How we love, include, treat, care for and honor those with disabilities is a huge indicator of our understanding of the Gospel. All people are made in God's image, all are equally important to Him and all have an equal purpose in His plan. We acknowledge those truths by treating those with disabilities as Jesus did and loving them as Jesus did.


Longtime friends of ours, Barb and Tim are living with the realities of Tim's struggle with ALS. She is a great writer and this recent blog of hers caught my eye because it captures the heart that all of us ought to have in caring for those with disabilities. It is a heart of love and thanks in the midst of tough realities.



Dear Dad~

I miss you so much just now. It's been more than 10 years since you've gone to see Jesus. I certainly do wish there were times when I could still talk to you. Especially now.

When you were here on earth with me, we never took the time to talk about your handicap. You never told me what it was like to go through having a major stroke. You never told me what it was like when all of a sudden half of your body refused to work anymore. You never told me what it was like to try parenting your kids after such a tragic event. I am finding myself in a place where I sure could use your advice on those things!

For all these years, I've always thought God put me in my place in our family for a couple different reasons. First, I thought I was there to be your incentive to get better. After all, I was only two years old when you suffered your stroke. You had to get better in order to take care of me and to play with me, your baby girl. (A little self-centered purpose, I suppose.)

I have also come to think of my place in our family as God's protection of sorts. Knowing how much everyone else in the family kind of fell apart after your stroke, I have, again selfishly, thought God placed me so late after Kris so that I would be spared that pain. I was so much younger that I wasn't even aware really of what was happening in our family. I was not pulled into the whirlwind of chaos that they were sucked into.

So as I grew up, everything after your stroke was normal to me. To all my sisters and brothers, everything had dramatically changed. There was a "before" and an "after". But not for me. It was normal to see you limp as you walked. It was normal that your left arm was always in a sling. It was normal to watch Mom comb your hair and clip your fingernails. It was normal to have someone cut your meat for you. I never thought twice about any of those things.

But, Dad, I have realized that though my first thoughts are still correct, I must now add another reason for my place in our family. God put me in our family, growing up with handicap as normal so that now I am just reverting back to my "normal" to comb Tim's hair, to clip his nails, to feed him his lunch, to help him dress and undress. It was God's way of preparing me for what's happening right now.

And I also need to add to the long list of things you taught me: You taught me how to help people in a way that is compassionate and preserves their dignity. It really is no big deal for me to help Tim on a daily basis - and it is thanks to you for that. Growing up around a handicap that seemed normal was one of your biggest gifts to me. Thanks for not talking about it. That kept it just a normal part of my daily life.

And can you thank our Father in heaven for me too? Not only did he place me in our family to help you recover from your stroke and to protect me from the aftermath of that stroke, I have just realized that he placed me in our family to prepare me for the journey I am walking right now. It's truly amazing how something so tragic so long ago can be used in such a powerful way almost 40 years later! He really is an amazing God that way.

I am envious that Tim will join you so much sooner than I will. Be sure to show him the best fishing spots you've found so far. It wouldn't surprise me if you have already met Tim's grandpa and you're planning your first fishing trip together for when he joins you! I miss you so much, but am happy that you are hanging with Jesus!

Love you,

Your little girl


If you would like to follow this couples journey, you may do so at Life Stitches. I honor those like Barb and Tim who walk the path of suffering with dignity and faith.