Disclaimer: I am writing this article about my disability and my religious experience. My religion or religious experience may not match yours. Totally cool! The world is full of variety. All religious beliefs are valid and beautiful!
I'm from a Christian household. My father is a preacher. Recently, he went to visit a church a few towns over and fill in because that church currently doesn't have a pastor.
I get quite a few stares walking slowly into churches with my cane. Honestly, I can feel the eyeballs on me. It's like they are waiting for me to spontaneously combust. The stares always come first.
Then the probing questions come. Honestly, I don't mind the questions so much. I'm used to educating people about my life and my conditions on social media—I actually enjoy it. It's what comes after that bothers me about "face-to-face" social interactions, especially in churches. It's the commentary that follows that really bugs me.
"Well, if you just keep praying, you'll get better!"
"Jesus heals all things!"
"You just need more faith!"
Most of these things are said by little old ladies wearing their Sunday best while laying a hand on my shoulder, trying to comfort me when I'm not even upset. So, I try not to be angry at these people. But, honestly, it happens so often, my patience runs thin after a while. Part of the reason I'm writing this. Therapy and ranting.
I'm a disabled 25 year old. I also believe in God. I have from a very young age. When I hear people say these things to me, it does hurt a bit.
It hurts because they assume there must be something wrong with my faith, my belief, or how I worship. My faith is just fine the way it is and, trust me, no one prays for me more than me.
This was a hard thing for me to come to terms with and it didn't happen overnight. If I believed God could help me, was He just choosing not to? Was I being punished for something? Did He love me? I had all these questions and wasn't getting any answers, just chronic pain.
I had to come to some realizations about who I am and about my faith.
God is much bigger than I can comprehend. Trying to understand what He does and why is probably more complicated than I can understand.
God has the right to tell me "no." I believe He created the universe, He has enough power to tell one tiny person "no."
Once I really thought about these things, things I had thought about doing exactly what I'm doing now, writing and ranting for therapy purposes, I kind of understood that I wasn't going to understand. And I just became "cool" with it. My prayers changed from "please heal me" to "who can I educate about this chronic illness today?" and "help me find more answers".
It was never anything wrong with my faith or my prayer. My faith knows I don't have to "get it", I just have to know I'll always have someone to have my back, whether it be God in quiet reflection, my family, my friends, or the disabled community on social media. It's not going to be easy, just like it wasn't an easy journey to come to this realization, but I know it's not a problem with my faith when the mountains seem a little higher, the oceans a little deeper, or the ableism a little overwhelming. And that's ok!