Tag Archive: wheelchair


A Tough Miracle

Thanks, but I’ve had mine

Every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I pay a visit to a different church. All usually goes well on arrival. I find an empty spot along the side or at the back, planning a quick escape after the service. Then someone who knows me spots me, and my weakness appears… I love a good chat, and even more, a good cuppa tea.

I’m a social creature by nature, and very open to people asking me about my disability. So once I start chatting, I inevitably make a few new friends and the topic comes up. Then the inevitable happens, as if drawn by my magnetic brakes on my electric wheelchair , some well-meaning person will feel compelled to motor on over and insist on praying over me for healing. What they confuse is the message from God, and the voices in their head expressing their own discomfort at the thought of having a disability. It makes them realise their own frailty and humanity.

Make no mistake, I’m never going to turn down anything as powerful as prayer but I do ask that they rather include me in their prayers at home and that they listen to my story first. It’s always rather deflating to see people pray for healing with enormous expectation… And nothing happens. Occasionally, I meet people who are far enough in their journey to understand and appreciate my story, but I tell it anyway:

I’ve already had a miracle. My mother and I were hit by an out-of-control, on-coming car in 2007. The people who arrived on scene assumed we were dead. The professionals who did the accident reconstruction said there was no reason we were still alive. We should not have survived, but we did. That was my miracle. I’ve had my miracle. But I call it a “Tough miracle”.

Every day is hard. Every day I struggle. But I am here. This is my Tough Miracle.

We know the Lord always answers our prayers. However, as mere human beings, we have to accept His wisdom, and that sometimes His answer is “No”, or that He does things in His own time or his own way. He never said life would be smooth sailing, or that following His path would be easy. Those who stop long enough to really listen to my story, realise that I welcome their prayers to aid me through my journey, as long as it’s done in private.

I’ve had my miracle. God uses my disability in many ways. For my students in Inclusive Education, it’s very difficult to say that you cannot teach children with disabilities when your lecturer has a disability. I have learned first hand the difficulties faced by people with disabilities, and have the voice to speak out. And I have realised that physically and emotionally, I am stronger, even though I struggle, and that in God’s eyes, I am whole.

Please remember me in your prayers at home. Pray for those things you can’t see. Don’t worry about my wheelchair. Don’t focus on my needing to walk. Pray for my pain levels to drop.  Pray for the invisible disability I have: depression, which hides behind my smiling facade.

Pray that I have the love and patience to deal with well- meaning, over enthusiastic Christians who insist on praying for me in public, because I have a wicked sense of humour and am tempted to get up and walk (which I can do for short distances), shouting “Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!”

And pray for better understanding in society, so that people wouldn’t use the disabled parking spaces because stupidity is not a disability, that pavements would be flat, and that buildings would be accessible, for empathy not sympathy, and that people would stop assuming that because I use a wheelchair that I have a problem with it.

I’m here. I’m alive. It’s hard, but so is life. It’s my tough miracle.

[Helen is quite a busy woman and so doesn’t get to write too often, but when she does you can catch more of her words at Helen’s fabulous, frivolous, splendiferous, always-odd life on wheels…]

[For other stories from amazing and ordinary people who happen to have a disability or are faced with special needs, click here]

instead i got to hang out with my buddy Uel Maree for about an hour, catching him up on my story for the last two years and getting to hear some of his.

Uel Maree

Just over a year ago now, Uel Maree, helping out a girls group on an adventure camp, dived into a river in a spot he knew well as one where they launched canoes regularly, but this time something was different. He has dived hands first, but whether it was a rock or a sand bar, something pushed his hands to the side and he took a direct impact to the head. Paralysed from the neck down and lying face down in the water, not able to do anything about it [but fortunately having taken a big breath] he told me he was filled with incredible peace as his friend who was a life guard was 20m away and would soon see what was wrong and come running. He did, and Uel was carefully taken out of the water and later helicoptered to the hospital where he was given a rather negative prognosis that there was like a 1% chance he would not be completely paralysed from the neck down. Uel and his family chose to think differently and with a huge network of support, much prayer and a fair number of miracles along the way, has physically come to a point far exceeding anything the doctors could imagine… and continues to push through for small breakthrough after small breakthrough.

i guess i was a little nervous arriving at the house and being ushered in by his dad [who first pretended i had arrived at the wrong house to really ease my nerves] as i didn’t really know how the visit was going to go. i had camped as a leader with Uel a couple of years before, but only really knew him through the facebook group that was set up after the accident and so had followed updates there and seen some of the progress and been so hugely encouraged by the amazing network and community that exists there. i had witnessed how the group and Uel had been an encouragement to so many other people besides Uel and a place where people and faith and needs had met up regularly.

so in some ways, i was anticipating hanging out with a crippled guy in a bed or maybe a wheelchair. but as i turned the corner, from the moment of laying eyes on Uel, what i encountered was life to the full. Uel was completely animated and positive and full of humour and just so much life, it really was such a joyful encounter. He started off all interested in my journey and what Val and i have been up to and it was a while before i was able to jump in and direct the conversation to him and his journey and some of what he had gone through.

and it was just completely encouraging and uplifting. having spent just an hour or so with Uel i walked away thinking that i know more crippled people than Uel who have full use of their bodies. i got to ask about the bad days and the times of frustration as well and there certainly are those, but for the most part it feels like Uel, faced with a potentially life-ending scenario, absolutely just chose to make the best out of every part of it and has stubbornly refused to accept any restrictions places upon his body by doctors and specialists as to how far he can go to recover.

what impressed me was how he spoke about God and how it took something like this to happen for him to really understand having a need for God and needing to rely on God and so his faith has increased immensely. a lot of people in a situation like this would no doubt end up feeling sorry for themselves, whereas Uel is going to be co-leading the home group that meets at his house every second week, he is working on pushing his wheelchair around [with specially enhanced door stopped bits added around the edges so he can grab hold of the wheels] and he is a machine on his iPad keeping up with his facebook group and the latest news and happenings.

what a legendary time and what an example of the ‘life to the full’ we are called to in Jesus. thank-you Uel Maree for fitting me into your busy schedule and for showing me a vibrant faith and attitude for really embracing life.

[If you want to read the piece Uel wrote on Sharing Dreams, click here]

[For Uel’s piece on Living with Disability where he shares some more of his story, click here]

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