Give and Take

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(photo via http://myenglishimages.com/)

 

 

Have you ever had that person in your life who only talked to you when they wanted to complain about something? Or the person who only talks to you when they need you to do something for them? We’ve all met those kind of people. Healthy relationships are reciprocal, meaning the relationship cannot be sustained in a healthy way if one person’s needs always trump the others. I like the imagery of a see-saw here. A see-saw with two people on it takes effort from both people in order for it to function like it was designed. If one person stops giving effort then the other person is left stranded while being suspended in the air. Relationships are the same way. If one person is always wanting to take from the relationship more than they give then it most likely will lead to dysfunction and an unhealthy relationship. 

But theres also another type of give and take I have encountered, and that’s perceived give and take. Here’s an example. I, being a disabled person, often have labels put on me before anyone ever says one word to me. People see my inability to walk and one of the first things that come to their mind is the ways they need to help me or, to put it another way, the things I would take from them if an attempt to be friends was made between them and myself. It’s common in relationships. We want to know what the costs of such a relationship will be in order to figure out if the relationship is worth our time or not. But the problem with that is the things we perceive as what the other person will take are sometimes things the other person won’t need from you. Our needs change over time. We go through seasons of life where we have a lot to give and seasons where we need to take a lot from others. The key is to keep the two seasons in balance. This is especially true for the person with a disability. Just because you are limited in what you can do does not mean you need to take more than you give. You have talents. You have unique things you can offer others. Find what those things are and do them. You will make a huge impact for someone I promise. 

Now, let’s apply all that to ministry and disability. In my experience, as well as the experiences of several other people with disabilities I have talked to, churches generally only see the ways they (the church) should minister to people with disabilities. While I do applaud the effort churches make to help people with disabilities, that should only be half of the equation. Ministry between able bodied and people with disabilities can be an equal exchange of give and take if both sides will allow it. Which side of the see-saw are you sitting on? Think about that and how it affects your relationships.

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Where Does Your Happiness Come From?

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We’ve all met those kind of people. The one’s who always seem to be in a funk. Chances are that we’ve also been that person ourselves. I myself have struggled throughout my lifetime with being consistently happy. Being a person with a disability I’ve faced the awkward looks, people who are overly eager to help, and people who ignore me altogether. Me being the people oriented yet independent person I am found that these kind of people took away from my happiness. For a long time I based my happiness on what I could do or who I could impress. The problem with that was that I always found things I could not do no matter how much I modified them to fit my abilities. I also found many people who didn’t care what I achieved. For a period of my life I let those people and my personal inabilities to get to me and, if I’m being honest, it sucked. It sucked to live in a way that always sought to live up to other peoples expectations, because I always fell short. It sucked to base my happiness on my own abilities because there was always something I failed at. I always have enjoyed preparing and eating food and at one point in my life considered going to culinary school to become a chef. Even with that kind of passion I realized that my happiness from it always went away. Then several years ago I began praying that God would show me a source of consistent happiness. A few days after starting this prayer in my life I read across John 16:33-“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” It was then I realized that my constant source of happiness was Jesus. Jesus gave his followers a gift that will live beyond any earthly disappointment, eternal life, and with that eternal life comes hope, a hope that assures us that all the beat-downs we get in this life will be worth it. When I read that passage in John my mind jumped to Deuteronomy 31:6-“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Because of those passages I’m a happier person. I’m still not consistently happy, but happier than I was before, and I hope to be happier tomorrow than I am today. It’s a process. I hope you will find your source of happiness not in yourself or others, but in something that won’t fade quickly.