Dancing with Max
Today I had the privilege of hearing Emily Colson speak at a conference. She wrote this book about her experience of raising her son who has autism. I love how honest her stories are, speaking of the struggles as well as the joys in her life. At the end of her rope, wondering if she could be the mom she needed to be, she decided to live life boldly. Emily spoke of waking up each day and saying to herself, “This is my last day alive.” She made the difficult choice to step out of her isolation and into community, not letting her fears of what others may think of Max hold her back. She spoke of the heartbreak of feeling isolated from church, a place she considered to be a safety net. Then she spoke of how she and Max went to backwards church, attending the end of the service and staying to help put away chairs. This was a great example of participating in a way that was successful and being considered valuable in service. Then she left us with a great thought. The church is often compared to a body, many different parts working together, each necessary in its own way. If people with disabilities are not included in church, than isn’t the body missing a part? Does this mean the church itself is disabled?
I spoke at one of the breakout sessions about how to facilitate conversations about disabilities at your church. I was reminded that educating others and finding creative ways to see this topic in a different light is my passion. I used the framework of hospitality. We’re willing to go out of our way when we invite someone to our home. Isn’t that what we’re intended to do at our church, with all people? It’s not about a program or a special wing of the church for people with disabilities. It’s about making everyone feel welcomed and valued.