Jim Bishop | Disable and enable: A lifelong process

I may be a Bishop, but I’m not a preacher – not ordained, disdained, maybe. I do, however, try to practice what I preach (is that what a minister does when he/she rehearses a sermon?) in my regular discourse, including this weekly column.

What keeps me from being completely open and unswerving in this regard is a greater awareness of my limitations – disabilities, if you will.

When I use this term, it’s not only some type of physical impairment or mental deficiency (I struggle with both). Rather, I suggest that it includes other areas of my life that keep me from being all I can be, living life to its fullest.

I’ve tottered into what is euphemistically called the “senior citizen” stage. Many of us congregate here, and while we face similar issues of health and well-being, there are many areas where we differ as well.

For example, even after years of trial and error, attempting to grow and develop new interests and gifts, I still remain in that dark, forlorn and enigmatic realm occupied by those who are, and probably always will be, mechanically inept.

When this aptitude was being distributed, I must have been stuck in the bathroom, trying to keep the toilet from overflowing.

I come down with a severe case of mechanical madness every time I open a box that says “Some Assembly Required.” Or, I close the sliding door to our bathtub/shower and it slips off the track. I call upon my amazing spouse to fix it (she’s always putting me back on track).

Ask me to hammer a nail in straight – I don’t know a roofing nail from a finishing nail; they might be one and the same – and you may as well kiss that piece of lumber goodbye or expect to call the drywaller.

It’s been pointed out numerous times, by guess who, that I don’t even see things that need repair, like a leaky faucet, a squeaky car door or torn window screen. I like to pretend that the ailing object will somehow heal itself if I have faith sufficient to move metaphorical mountains.

If there’s a lemon out there, we’re sure to find each other – a vehicle that had more miles vertically on the rack than horizontally on the road, a lawnmower and a moped that seemed to spend more time in the repair shop than in service (the dealer considered putting my name on a reserved parking spot).

I’ve noted before my lack of athletic prowess, usually being the last one picked when choosing up sides to play any number of childhood-adolescent games. I was too awkward to handle a basketball, too short to spike over the volleyball net, too to catch a line drive in baseball or softball.

Even card games that require quick thinking exasperate me, like Pit, Dutch Blitz and Rummy. Forget chess; one needs patience and the ability to concentrate, commodities I find in short supply, along with board games like Monopoly that last longer than fund appeals on public television stations.

I publicly confess to other disabilities – a short fuse when other drivers float along in the passing lane of the interstate or when someone pulls out right in front of me on the highway, then immediately slows and signals a left turn in the face of oncoming traffic. When I point out such vehicular shenanigans to wife Anna, riding shotgun, she responds, “I think I hear J. Vernon (my late father) verbalizing.”

Then, there’s my propensity for passing judgments on issues, and other people, without adequately processing all available information, having little patience in long lines or in settings where I arrive in good time only to have to turn around and wait an eternity and a propensity to move my mouth before my brain is completely engaged. Will I ever learn that one usually learns more by listening than by talking?

Each of us has disabilities, some more obvious than others. The important thing is to have a specific, practical game plan for dealing with them. There are resources to help us in this regard, if we’re willing to admit we need assistance, and encouraging each other certainly helps.

Which prompts me to lift up this remarkable, ebullient portion of scripture from an Old Testament prophet who spent most of his time and energy addressing disobedient people around him and grieving over their disabilities:

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.” – Isaiah 55:12:13 (NIV).

 

– Column by Jim Bishop


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