Today I got to go to a religious school and spend the afternoon teaching kids in grades K through 12 about people with disabilities from many angles - on what we CAN do (imagine lots of sports pictures and videos), about how we can have the same thing (ie MS) and be different both in disease and things we like / don't like. We explored some of what the kids thought and tried to change if something was misperceived. The K-5 group was my favorite - they didn't seem to have much bias. Maybe it's that I have a 7 year old, but they just seemed so much fun, and they loved seeing everything. The preschool class came up afterward and even gave me a hug - somewhat priceless!
In the presentation, one of the leaders had to explain how God loves us all, even though we are each different - we are each special. Then it got a bit sticky. She proceeded to say God gives us each things like disabilities. I wasn't expecting this. I hear it many times but it's not how I look at things, and many times, it's not really what people mean (that God causes bad things to happen). But, I have to say, I don't think God gave me MS because I'm special and can deal with it. So I explored her words with her before the older group of kids came. I think she really thinks God does cause things. I, on the other hand, have a definite opinion that God doesn't give us things like MS, doesn't cause things like Haiti or Chile disasters, but instead is a loving God who supports us through everything, good and bad. I believe evil exists - it is just there. And God supports us.
For the older kids, she gave a milder version of God giving us things that was leaning a little more toward God being there for us, and us each being special.
And so the day ended, and it was a very good day. Younger kids without bias who thought we could do pretty much everything got to see it all. Middle and high schoolers - a different crowd - hard to read. What seemed to hit them is when we discussed friendships we have somehow lost because of disability, because there seems to be some kind of fear. So hopefully, they can learn not to fear disability, but to embrace it.
Thanks be to God.