Hey, guys! This is just kind of a rant about an incident that happened two weeks ago. Some random man was ableist towards me on the street and it made me cry and feel very upset. I wanted to write a post about it the week that it happened but I was still too sad to. Don’t worry, I won’t take up too much of your time with this:
Why I Don’t Need Healing
But before I talk about what happened, let me briefly explain something: I recently asked my family not to wish/pray for me to be healed anymore. Why? Because I’ve received the greatest healing of all – a love and acceptance for who I am, the way that I am. I honestly don’t want to change or be ‘healed’. Society often paints being disabled as a bad thing or a problem, but now I know that it isn’t. Being disabled doesn’t mean being ‘wrong’ it just means being different and I have come to love every single part of me that deviates from the norm.
That’s why I get a little frustrated when people pray for me to be ‘healed’. They simply don’t understand this concept. Doing so denies all of my personal growth and is projecting the idea that some part of me is ‘broken’ and therefore needs to be ‘fixed’ – all according to their point of view of course. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a follower of God myself, but people need to know that stopping random disabled strangers on the street and praying for them to be healed can sometimes be hurtful – no matter the good intention behind it.
So what happened was this random man parked his bicycle in front of me while I was riding outside in my wheelchair. He asked if he could pray for me to be healed and I tried to refuse him and explain that I didn’t feel like I needed healing. However, he completely ignored me and continued to pray for me anyway. And since he was blocking my way – I couldn’t escape and roll away from him.
The entire exchange happened in Dutch but I’ll translate it here. His prayer included phrases like: “please let this young girl’s muscles and bones knit together in the correct way so that she may be made right again.” He talked about my body as if it was ‘bent’ and ‘broken’ and ‘desperately needed fixing’ – it was shocking to hear someone talk about me in that way. After how long it had taken for me to accept my disability, they were awful things to hear. His prayer also included many other offensive sentiments which I don’t even want to write down because they made me so sad and angry. Just know it was a combination of all of the worst, most offensive things someone could say about my body, combined and dressed up as a prayer that he expected me to be thankful for. They were honestly the worst insults anyone had ever said to me in my life.
I just sat there completely shocked as he prayed a prayer full of his projected offensive perceptions of me. Once he finally cleared the path and left, I raced back to my sister and burst out crying. It was so difficult hearing all of the things I used to believe about my body said out loud by someone else like that. This entire situation was made a million times worse by the fact that, just moments later, someone was racist towards my sister:
Some man with a dog on a leash approached my sister and his dog started jumping all over her. The man did nothing to pull his dog back so my sister kindly asked him to. He replied: “Oh why are all gekleurde mensen (Dutch for ‘coloured people’) scared of dogs?!” My sister tried to explain to him that not all black people are the same but he rudely cut her off by saying: “Whatever, enjoy tanning even though you don’t really need to.”
And that was it. The icing on the cake. We’d had enough discrimination for one day so we both got up and left. We’d come outside to enjoy the sunny weather (my sister wanted to read outside on a bench while I did some rounds around the park in my wheelchair for exercise) and we both left crying and feeling angry at the world. Anyway, I’m sorry for all of the negativity. I just felt like I had to get this off my chest. Next week’s post is going to be about wheelchair dancing so it will be much more positive than this!
The reality of being disabled is that people often stop us on the street and pray for our healing. I’ve heard countless other stories from disabled people who’ve experienced exactly the same. This is a quote from a BBC article about the issue: “Like many disabled people, I am often approached by Christians who want to pray for me to be healed. While they may be well-intentioned, these encounters often leave me feeling judged as faulty and in need of repair.” (Damon Rose, “Stop trying to ‘heal’ me” BBC News, April 28, 2019, accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48054113)
Once again, I’m a follower of God too and I know that these people have good intentions, but this is unfortunately just another form of prejudices and assumptions about disabilities coming to light. Doing this for someone who you know and who has told you that they’re struggling? Fine. Doing this for a random stranger who was just trying to have a fun day out in the sun but ended up coming home crying? Please don’t.
I can’t thank all of you enough for your continued support of The Wheelchair Teen. One of the best parts of my week is getting to read through all of your comments and messages. Thanks so much for reading, it truly means a lot ❤ See you soon!