Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What It Means to "Have Faith" With A Life-Long Disability.

At church, last night, I got pulled into a mess.

"Oh, well, she works in Hayward, but she probably knows someone in your town and maybe we can get you better housing. Are you happy with your situation?"

I started to reply and heard First Lady tell me, that I'd better check it out. I began to feel a familiar sickening pain.

I took down a name and phone number, but was told not to call that phone number, but to call the person I was speaking with. I felt a kind of madness starting to work its
way to the surface. It was time to face down Pastor.

I had been informed in the middle of August that there were two housing options opening up for me, from the church's landlord. Both would involve her deliberately dropping her rent by almost half to give me, a studio apartment. This loss of income was justified to her because I am a blind person with mobility issues needing a walker. Here we are in October and I've heard nothing. (As I expected). Any landlords out there want to go for the above? I mean, as Christians, you will feel better screwing yourself in order to help the disabled, right? Yeah, sure.

When I confronted my Pastor, he started to try and explain. I cut him off and demanded a yes, or no answer on a new place to live. I've tried to communicate to this dear soul the realities of disability right now. I've already blogged on this: The link below will place my March 26, 2006 blog on housing and inflation underneath what you are reading now. You may choose to go to the "archives" of this blog for March 2006. You are looking for "march 26, 2006"

Its an ugly shell game where very few people who should be getting help are actually receiving the assistance. The reason is simple. In my town there were 100,000 applications for subsidized housing chasing 1,000 units. I with all my treasured disabilities, including actually living in the town, didn't even make the lottery that qualifies you to qualify for a slot that will come around in about five years. My pastor sensed that I have given up and began to challenge my faith.

"Do you trust God. The best is yet to come. He'll bring you out." He was looking me straight in the face. I love this man, and will not lie to him. I refuse to do the faith-happy-talk, when I don't believe in it. God CAN do anything, but I know a whole lot of disabled people who have done and are doing a whole lot of tithing, serving and praying, who are still jolly-well disabled and living in pretty crummy circumstances.

Eventually I got asked a question which caused me to break down and sob.

"Pastor, I have faith. I know God is with me and He gives me the strength to handle my life, but I refuse to hope for total healing, a full-time job, or getting out of the housing I have right now. 'Be thankful for such things you have, as this is the will of God for your life in Christ Jesus'"

Pastor replied: "Do you really have faith?" Friends, I lost it. My denomination is big on not sobbing openly. Pastor's solution to my pain was telling me to go home and read the Bible. He touched and held my head and prayed. I couldn't recover. All conversation stopped. Then someone hit the lights, plunging us into darkness, which is the cue to leave the building.

I went home deeply shaken and really torn up inside. Today is almost a total loss attempting to recover from a deep sense of rage and depression. I will return to what I had before this dreadful conversation. Once I get my emotions back under control, I'll be able to sense God in my world and continue my simple prayer requesting that He give me the grace to accept whatever He has for me.

I don't give Him a laundry list anymore. I know how to survive. Maybe I don't have faith, but this is the best I got and if that damns me to hell, I can do nothing more. I am so very tired. This is not a particularly good head space for me to be in.

Able bodied people have all kinds of theories on how to handle disability. It is the difference between a chicken and a pig, concerning the reality of a bacon and eggs breakfast. The chicken is involved (theoretical), but the pig (actual reality) is committed.

A dear friend tried to get me back to looking for God to literally provide money for me in response to tithing. I know better then to get all tied up in that thicket. I stayed deliberately vague, while he stumbled through his "came in at the last minute" story.

Yes, I have gotten more money, but I still can't support myself without governmental help. What keeps me out of the hospital is accepting REALITY. Yes, God CAN do all things, but I'm beginning to wonder if the physical plane is the least important to Him, in the spiritual scheme of things.

God has always honored any attempt I make to approach, or serve Him. The biggest miracle being my Salvation, first and foremost. Next being the healing of my mind from several very serious mental abnormalities. I could have become a sociopath. I have several of the environmental markers for that dreadful condition. I could have become a multiple-personality. I also could have died during one of my several real suicide attempts. I have no issue with God. He is fair, gentle and consistent. Nobody can take that away from me.

What God isn't is a carnival act. You put up ten percent and He'll drop down ten times the amount you donated. If Reno had those kind of odds we'd all be rich. God responds to giving, even when done for wrong motives and under duress. What I've always noticed whenever I've tried to worship God through money, is an improving and firming-up of my understanding of spiritual matters.

There were the occasional physical blessings. I prayed to see what it would feel like to get a "blessing I couldn't contain". God answered that simple question within days. I got a call from a lady in the church who humbly asked if she could bring me some clothes that were donated to her through her job. I was overjoyed. I needed new clothes and welcomed the usual bag of goodies. A large grocery bag.

She appeared at my door with four huge garbage can bags full of clothes! I mean the 4 foot-high garbage can bags for the outside garbage cans.. I had the joy of blessing others with the overflow of clothing I literally had no room to store! But, my usual experience is more of a mental, or emotional blessing. God is consistent on His terms, not mine. He is not into doing parlor tricks for me, or anyone else.

Friends accuse me of going "too deep". I just see connections others hadn't thought of. When I discovered football, I pondered if it was just another of my "worldly" pastimes. I feel guilty because I can't listen to religious radio 24/7, or read the Bible as my only literature. Apparently most people don't think like that. Well, I think it is one of the symptoms of God responding to my faith. Part of it, is just the way I'm put together. I have a way of looking at life which can be useful to someone out there, reading this, at this very moment. It is a gift of God to me and the other person.

I can't get egotistical about it, as God is the source, I'm just like the wrapping. Something about how I present God and life will help someone to re-think the whole religious thing. God always honors my sincere desire to use this blog as a place of healing and rest for some very, very tired abuse victims, who, like myself are tired of all the fluff that passes as "recovery" out there. A lot of it is simply hot-air, or worse.

So, I feel myself rising above my very real anger and frustration. I didn't start to get mentally healthy, until i let go of a few long-cherished (worshipped) dreams. Dreams which kept me doing rediculous things attempting to live "as if". I dreamed of getting completely off Social Security and the government-provided health benefits. I would do this by securing a full time job that would put me solidly back into the middle class. (where I knew I belonged). I'd get healed from everything. I've picked out the color scheme of my first car and everything. I've also let myself fantasize about becoming a world-wide celeb phenom from the above-mentioned "miracle".

I finally let go of ever getting my vision fixed and began to look for non-literate, as in "reading" employment. Its out there, bringing in just under what I make with Social Security. Actually less, after paying taxes and carrying my own insurance. I had to let go, or kill myself out of rage and despair.

Next, I decided to throw the appropriate paper at the system and "qualify" for help paying my monthly insurance premiums and getting out of the SRO (Single-resident-occupancy) hotel rooms I've lived in mostly since 1983. I had to let go of that dream when I ran into the shell-game that is today's "subsidized housing". I see no practical "worldly" way out. But, WAIT! I'VE GOT TO HAVE FAITH...

Pardon me, but "blow it out your rear, dear!"

Learning to be content at my level with things the way THEY ACTUALLY EXIST, IS FAITH! I TRUST that when there is a real, actual need, God will (and always will) meet it. Therefore, I can call people, throw paper, get on lists, and all the rest of it, but I don't really pay that much attention to it all any more. When I need a bigger house, a husband, a better job, or a fabulous vacation, God will make it happen. But I refuse to make my fellow church goers feel good by doing "goofy" religious clap-trap:

"Oh YES. God's gonna give me a new body, a new house, a new job, the perfect mate (sex on demand) and ... a partridge in a pear tree" AND I thank Him!".

Doesn't the last quote strike you as being just a touch self-absorbed? I pray that God will bless me to continue to maintain my church's website, so someone can learn what we have learned about the real Jesus Christ. I pray that God will lead the people who can be helped and encouraged by this blog to read it and find that truth will really set them free. (just like Jesus said).

No, I'm still a work in progress and you can get off that damn treadmill of feeling that recovery is a never-ending march forward. The graph looks more like an EKG. The healthier you become, the smaller the distance is between your really bad days and your really good days.

You start out swinging from: "I'm like God" to "I want to kill myself." As you gain experience, help and (sometimes), medication, you don't gyrate as radically. I wept last night, slept a lot today, but can feel my regular "all is well" state returning. My normal state of contentment, as I sort out what I believe and what I refuse to do, in the name of making others "feel" good about THEIR faith.

Am I all done yet? Heck no. I thank God I have another day to live, learn and share. When I need something, God will bring it to me, or me to it. That is an exciting and hopeful process. I have learned from bitter trial and error, that God knows what is really best for me, whereas most of the time, I'm clueless.

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