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Real Answers™
dl20
Copyright: © 1999 Donald E. Lindman
570 words

HANDICAPS: CRUTCHES OR CHARACTER-BUILDERS?

By: Don Lindman

 

We'll call her Betsy.

She's handicapped.

She writes well, but speech comes awkwardly. She gets around, but she walks with a limp. I'm told these difficulties are the result of an accident some years ago.

She looks for sympathy. Many times she is overly aggressive and deliberately crude in her language, getting enjoyment out of shocking people. Friends excuse it. "You have to make allowances for Betsy; after all, she's handicapped."

Amy (and that is her real name) is also handicapped. She's a Down Syndrome adult in her 30's.

People don't have to make many allowances for Amy. "When she was young I prayed she would be normal like me," said one of her sisters. "I didn't want her to miss out on all the things normal young girls enjoy.

"Now I pray that I would be more like Amy. She is the essence of grace, forgiveness, acceptance, love, patience, and tolerance."

Amy has never let her handicap get in her way. She sets her own goals at her own level and accomplishes them. She is handicapped physically and mentally, but she doesn't need anyone making allowances for her in the area of character.

There is a sense in which most of us are handicapped, physically and/or mentally. Our handicaps may not be as severe and as limiting, but we still have to deal with them.

I have had very poor eyesight since I was a child, completely off the chart that measured nearsightedness. I wore thick glasses from the time I was in early elementary school.

Thick glasses and sports don't mix well when you're a kid. I was virtually blind without the glasses, and with them I was scared of getting hit and breaking what was for me the link to reality. Boys were measured by their involvement in sports in the culture of my childhood. I had a very rough time.

But I had to adjust. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary. I developed skills in other areas that actually have been more valuable to me as an adult.

In one sense, becoming mature is learning to maximize the skills you do have and work around the handicaps you have. In almost every field of human accomplishment there are heroic stories of people who overcame serious handicaps to become leaders. Stephen Hawking (ALS disease), Helen Keller (blind and deaf), Ludwig von Beethoven (deaf), and Jim Abbott (baseball pitcher with only one arm) are just a few that come to mind.

Whatever our handicap, there is no justification for using it as a crutch. We need to accept it as a challenge, instead.

At the beginning of a golf match, Sammy Davis, Jr. reportedly was asked what his handicap was. "I'm black, Jewish, and blind in one eye, and you ask me what my handicap is?" he is said to have answered.

Davis overcame his handicaps to become a legend in the entertainment business.

St. Paul wrote about an unnamed handicap with which he had to deal. Some believe it was eyesight problems.

Whatever it was, he prayed over and over that God would remove it so he could be "normal." He says that God's answer was to teach him that God's "strength is made perfect in [my] weakness."

He turned his weakness into strength by allowing God's power to work through him despite the handicap. With God's help that's something you and I can do, too.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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