Left Without Limit

There was a time when they were thought of as distorted–if not cursed–because they were born into 10 percent of the world population. Forcing their dictated standard on the deviants, some teachers hit them with a yardstick, ruler, or on the head with a dictionary if they didn’t comply with the norm. At times the abnormal hand was tied behind the student’s back. Conformity to the mold of the 90 percent was the objective. Left-handers must be taught normality. Even if perchance they didn’t actually hear the words voiced, this minority was left feeling weak, backward, weird, “less than.”

Quite the opposite attitude toward lefties in thirteenth century BC! The Bible mentions an elite corps of warriors: “There were 700 choice men who were left-handed among all these people; all could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16 HCSB). A slingstone weighing a pound could be propelled up to a hundred miles an hour and hit the target a quarter of a mile or more away. sling_stones_lachish_british_museum-195x175x72

Do you think anyone gave a moment’s thought to changing their left-handed defenders? The ancient sharpshooters were accepted (and useful) just as they were.

There is a birthed minority that is so rare it can’t even claim 1 percent of the world population. In fact, you could count them on both hands and feet with some toes left over. Does that make this minuscule segment of society inconsequential? Three-foot-three Nick Vujicic proves not.

One of the few persons living with tetra-amelia syndrome, Mr. Vujicic’s ongoing spiritual growth has him touting: “No arms, no legs, no worries.” What makes him stand tall?Nick Vujicic“I found happiness when I realized that as imperfect as I may be, I am the perfect Nick Vujicic. I am God’s creation, designed according to His plan for me” (Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life, p. 1). Vibrant Vujicic stuffed in a nutshell what, more than three thousand years before, King David had spread into a song:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalm 139:13-16 MSG)

In the following ten-minute video clip, you can catch a glimpse of how Vujicic does not sell himself short:

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Trash Triage

Trash can 2He was sixty-one and at his job when he asked the morning newspaper boy to help him throw it in the dumpster (http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2014/04/03/housing-complex-clerk-mistakes-suicide-jumpers-body-for-april-fools-prank/). The ninety-six-year-old woman’s body hadn’t appeared human. To him she looked like a mannequin. A dummy.

The surgeon made a similar operating assessment when my friend’s father had been ambulanced from a nursing home with a fractured femur. Expecting a routine consult with the doctor prior to surgery, the daughter left the hospital at ten that night and returned at seven the next morning. The minutes ticked by. One by one the heavy hours stacked up. Where was he? Why didn’t he come?

At five-thirty the daughter was beside herself as orderlies wheeled her elderly father out of the room and she caught a glimpse of the doctor. Confronted with her consternation, he explained, “I did not come by because 90 percent of patients with dementia never have anyone with them.”

All too sadly his informed statistic mirrors society’s devaluation of the demented elderly. That 90 percent of them are presented to the medical community as throwaways is a result built family by family. Child by child. Son by son. Daughter by daughter.

What are we thinking? Father doesn’t know who I am? Mother doesn’t remember my name? They don’t know me; so what’s the point?

Why do we make love conditional? Did our parents make it conditional when we did not know their names? when we could not say words? In our helplessness didn’t we sense self-worth through the security of a swaddling blanket, the contentment of cuddling, the soothing sound of a lullaby? They imprinted personal value. We did not have to do anything or be anything except ourselves. Unadulterated.

My father, too, was diagnosed with dementia. His was mania manufactured by the misuse and overuse of antipsychotic drugs. (See http://www.amazon.com/Before-Door-Closes-Daughters-Alcoholic/dp/1490808949/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396716040&sr=1-1&keywords=judith+hall+simon.) My success in getting the mind-altering drugs eliminated did not restore the spark in my father’s voice that had belonged to him before he was made a zombie and cast off as nursing facility waste. I missed hearing that unique part of him the rest of his life.

The drugs, taking their toll, also left my father’s mental function vacillating between clear and unclear. On one of his hazy days, Daddy asked me, “Who are you?”

“Judy.”

“That’s what I thought. You’re the one who takes care of me.”

I’ll remember that the rest of my life.

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Me Before You

I was fourteen and had my first regular job. My neighbor, expecting twins, paid me that summer to give her a hand with her three toddlers and help with the housework. As soon as I ran home clutching my first week’s cash, my mother reached for the Sears catalog. “See how pretty this is,” she said, opening to an earmarked page. “It would be nice for Gail in the winter.”

My stomach felt sick as I looked at the pretty black-and-white wool coat with matching leggings and hat, realizing what my mother was really saying. She expected me to buy the outfit for my three-year-old sister. Again I had to prove I was not selfish. That time, however, I put up a timid objection.

“You’re supposed to help the family,” my mother replied. Knowing that because of my father’s alcohol abuse, she could not depend on him, I handed her the money she needed and bought my first can of hair spray with the remainder.

As surely as night turns to day, I had been taught over and over I should put everyone before myself. It was drilled in me at church too: God first, others second, yourself last. They were all wrong! God first, yes. But the adults in my childhood had reversed the other two tenets.

When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matthew 22:39 NIV), He repeated verbatim words from Leviticus 19:18. A few years ago I finally understood what both the Old and New Testaments were saying. I could not love the one next to me until I loved myself. I could not know how to love someone else until I knew how to love me. To become unselfish I must first be kind to myself and give to me.

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