Are you handicapped?

Are you handicapped?

By Clayton Adams Recently, I was sitting in a new fast food restaurant enjoying my coffee, people watching and studying.

The coffee is very good, people watching brings a smile especially those with small children and studying in this environment is easy for me.

I noticed many people parking their vehicles in the “Handicap Only” parking spots. I noticed handicap tags hanging in their vehicles while watching the drivers get out of their truck or car. Their appearance, walk, and ability to carry their food offered no indication of a handicap.

Yes, I know that a person may have a handicap or limitation that is unseen and thus my observation may not always reflect the true circumstances. But noticing the proliferation of handicap tags and license plates, I can't help but think that we have lowered the definition of a handicap to include anything that disrupts our lifestyle or convenience.

What makes a person handicapped? Is it a physical limitation or an attitude? Is it the tag hanging down from their rear view mirror? Could it be the handicapped license plate?

Perhaps it is what a doctor reports to the person. Do the labels we place on others and ourselves limit or better stated, “handicap” us? Is it possible we handicap ourselves?

The church I serve has parking places reserved and clearly marked “Handicap Only” but I have noticed a few people park in these spots with no banner or special license plate. My memory brings up Ms. Maye Coates, a little old lady in West Memphis who drove her big old blue and white car to church and parked it in a spot far away from the door (she was in her nineties). When asked why she didn't park in one of the senior or handicap spaces (she had a handicap tag) she said, “I am still able to walk and don't want to take a space from someone who really needs it.” I miss Ms.

Maye. What a great example she was and continues to be for me. Though she met all the legal and physical requirements to be “handicapped” she didn't believe she was handicapped! I have friends in Earle that inspire me because they have physical limitations, they have the “tag” and yet they continue to be very active, mobile but not the mindset of being “handicapped.”

I think about the warriors who come home with very severe physical injuries, wounds and limitations and I'm inspired to see those with no legs skiing, those missing body parts in all manner of sport competitions. Many give motivational speeches and those with artificial limbs run in marathons. They meet all the legal and physical requirements to be “handicapped” but many of them do not believe they are handicapped! In fact, many consider their injuries, wounds and limitations as an honor and I admire and respect them for this!

I am convinced many people become handicapped by their thinking and belief systems. When we handicap ourselves we become poor in our outlook of life, poor in spirit, poor in our curiosity for living, poor in our expectations and poor in our ability to contribute to our families and society. By our own choices, thinking, beliefs and habits we become poor and handicapped.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said in Matthew 26:11 “…you will always have the poor with you…” What a person thinks of himself to be that is what he is. Proverbs 23:7 states; “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” If one is physically handicapped, is that person more limited by the physical disability or by the mental or attitudinal limitation they have placed on their self?

It works this way spiritually too. Christ frees us from sin but if we, being handicapped by our thinking and wrong beliefs keep returning to our sin or bondage the apostle Peter stated it well. “…for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19) Benjamin Franklin once said; “There are three things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self.” We deceive ourselves to think we are handicapped when all that is really wrong is our outlook on life.

I have often handicapped myself by my thinking.

Sometimes, I have allowed myself to be handicapped by falling for lies and deceptions. Jesus said; “See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4) The warning Jesus gives is clear – when I allow myself to be mislead, I handicap myself. Have you allowed yourself to be misled?

Are you handicapped?

Clayton Adams is pastor at Earle First Assembly of God. You can e- mail him at cpalaa@ yahoo. com, or find Earle First Assembly on Facebook.

‘AWord from the Pastor’