There’s a term in the politically correct community that is incorrect. That term is, “special needs”. I will address this from a Biblical worldview.
First of all, I won’t pretend that I don’t have special needs that others don’t. Just the same, others have special needs that I don’t. However, to use the term, “special needs” as a label to represent people with disabilities is a misrepresentation of who we are.
Speaking for myself; I don’t have any desire to be anymore special than the person next to me whether they have a disability or not. The only reason I am special is because I was created by the same God as everyone else. In God’s eyes, that makes us all special to Him. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV
Secondly, we were all created with the same purpose;
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV
The second word in the term, is “needs”. While my needs may differ than many, they are no different to me than your needs are to you. I was born with the same needs as I have today. The fact is, we all have needs. As a person with Spina Bifida, my needs can be vastly different than a person who was disabled due to an injury. But that doesn’t make them any more special than mine.
As a Christian, there is one Special Need that out does any other the world can offer. That need is to be saved by the savior of the world; Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul said it best: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19
“…in Christ Jesus”.
Who really has special needs? We all need Jesus. Can’t get any more special than that.
One night as a teen my family and I, while on vacation, visited a park. The park had lots of rides. Many parks like this one allow for people in wheelchairs and their families/friends to go through the exits and get in front of the line. As a young kid I felt like a king. But this particular night I felt like a tool.
There was talk amongst the others about wanting to go on this roller coaster that turns upside down. Some in my family wanted to go, including a friend of my sister’s. When I would not go that friend tried to guilt trip me into going and was mad that I was steadfast.
Later she apologized for trying to use my disability to get into the front of the ride.
It is an honor for me to give people that extra privilege who are with me. When my friends and I go to concerts, etc., I will often ask them if they want to ride with me so that we can park close. But when I sense there is an alterior motive, that can be demeaning.
Privilege? Most of the time, yes. But sometimes I would just like to wait in line with the others at parks.
When I was in middle school, years ago, I was pushing myself through the hall among other kids, going to our next class when a friend of mine pushed me into a wall. I didn’t think he meant to do it, nor do I think he realized it until a teacher saw it and decided to make him sit in a wheelchair and roll around during the school hours as a punishment. I know he must have felt humiliated at the beginning. However, by the end, my friend got a good idea of what I face on a daily basis. He got to experience many of the obstacles I face and try to figure out, himself, without getting out of the wheelchair, how to over come it.
This memory reminds me of that old saying, “Walk a mile in my shoes”. Suffice it to say, this young boy who had to use a wheelchair that whole week, learned how to “walk in someone else’ shoes.
Whether my friend was trying to move me out of the way or not, that fact that that experience made a difference in his understanding of people who use wheelchairs. We became better friends as a result.
Several years ago I was going up an inside ramp at church when a friend asked me if she could help push me. I must not have responded too kindly because years later she reminded me that I was determined to do it myself and turned her help down.
I’m all about determination; I mean…it’s helped me come a long way in life. But sometimes I can be so overly determined that I forget receiving help can be a priceless gift.
For instance, I was with a friend recently. We were discussing this very thing. A little bit later, as we were going up a rocky path it all of a sudden became easier to roll my wheelchair. Instantly, after having that conversation, I knew my friend had felt comfortable enough to take some initiative to help me; confidently knowing that I would receive it without being asked. For me, this created a mutual trust.
If you are in a wheelchair, don’t let pride of determination get in the way of a trusted friend’s genuine desire to help push you, even if you can do it yourself.
If you are not in a wheelchair, but are a friend to someone who is, don’t be afraid to ask to help. If you’re on the same page, it can help build a bridge of trust.