The Potential of a Broken Body

I came across this awesome quote on one of the gardening blogs I follow:

“There’s nothing wrong with normal, of course, but it’s the peculiar outliers that get gardeners’ tongues wagging.” Posted by Allen Bush on February 11, 2015 at 6:20 am

Now I certainly enjoy being a “peculiar outlier” myself. And there’s no doubt that The Boy is a peculiar outlier.

But being a thinker as well as a feeler, I got to wondering, what is the point of disability — especially The Boy’s disability.

I haven’t come up with a full answer. But I’m happy to share some thoughts. Particularly as they relate to what The Boy and his cohorts have to teach the communities they inhabit. In this case, the church.

The Body of Christ:

The church is called “The Body of Christ.” And in the book of Corinthians, Paul uses this body metaphor to show how everyone in the community of the church is part of the same body, designed to work together.  

"But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." (1 Corinthians 12:18-20).

The Boy’s Body:

So now I come to The Boy’s body. Could it, as wonky as it it, have something to teach “the church” about being a body? (Hint: Yes!)

Here’s what I’ve learned from Cerebral Palsy — if just one tiny part is damaged, it affects the whole body. A tiny bit of bleeding on the brain at the moment of birth affects The Boy’s muscle tone, muscle control, ability to walk, fine motor skills, vision, speech, thought processes, everything.

Surprise, surprise, the bible addresses this very issue, in the context of community:

"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Corinthians 12: 26).

The Potential of the Broken Body:  

And yet, even in a damaged state, so much joy, and ministry, and relationship happens. The Boy and I certainly have a great time together. So does our whole family. And we can’t go anywhere without running into someone who knows The Boy, and is happy to see him.

None of us are waiting for The Boy to be perfect before we go barreling down the road together. And we’re finding potential through The Boy that we don’t have in and of ourselves. 

Again, the bible touches on this in a beautiful way. Jesus, after His resurrection, still has the wounds of the crucifixion in his hands and side. Maybe The Boy's resurrection body will still have the scars from his many surgeries. I don't know.

And later, Paul writes about his “Thorn in the flesh.” He's got something — maybe physical, maybe emotional, who knows — that is a constant reminder of his brokenness. He wishes he were free of it. So isn't it cool that Paul can still say,

"The treasure of redemption is carried around in ‘jars of clay" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

So what is the take-away?

What am I learning from the peculiar outlier in my life? Here’s two things worth considering:

1. Beware the “Cult of Normalcy” — i.e., that everything is supposed to be OK. Understand that buying into this world-view harms us individually and communally, because then we expect normalcy in every area, and that just isn’t the case.  So we are always disappointing/being disappointed.

2. Embrace the Grace that our flaws demand — I like this quote from Jean Varnier, the founder of L’arche (you may know L’arche from the writings of Henri Nouwen):

“Being truly human and Christian is not just accepting people with disabilities but accepting our own vulnerability by entering with them into a relationship of mutuality where each one gives and each one receives.”


Through the Roof

A Blog Supported by the Mosaic ministry of Third Church, ECO

"Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on." (Mark 2:3-4)

About: This is a blog about accessibility, intimacy, and community. About being welcome.  It’s also about bringing up The Boy. He's 10 years old and has cerebral palsy. Also popping up are The TeenGirl, who just turned 13, and The Mom, who is awesome. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.