Dance with Vulnerability

I’m not really someone to initiate chats about pain level. People ask me if I hurt, I say, “Yep.” When they dig even deeper and ask, “How much?” something along the lines of, “Quite a lot” comes out.

Though the words were rarely spoken, my parents taught me not to become a servant to my pain. However, they never sounded that poetic, but that’s half the joy of this being my blog. Anything gets to be poetry when I want it to be poetry.

But I digress…

Pain can’t be what I think about first thing in the morning. When I walk from A to B, the random twisted ankle, pinched nerve and sore hip will often times make me grind my teeth (I know, bad habit… bad habit) and whisper the only thing I can get out prior to coffee:

One more day, Lord. Please. Just let me get through one more day.

Pain happens. But joy doesn’t have to end. Living doesn’t get to stop just because my body likes to scream for no reason. I often chuckle when an elder looks at me while they “crackle” standing up. They usually say something like, “Enjoy being young, Hun. Someday your hips will sound like mine!”
I may or may not whisper under my breath, “Sweetheart, I’m already there.” But, like everything else… That depends on the strength of my filter system.

Because I try to keep life as normal as possible despite the pain level, I rarely see my stubborn self through the eyes of a loved one. That changed the other day and I’m not sure I like it.

I’d been having small seizures off and on for a few hours. One friend started connecting the dots (annoyingly) and started doing the only thing he could do. Ask questions. Apologize for the pain. Check for the worst.

…I blew him off. I tried to be loving about it, really. But Dude, I’m fine. Tell me you’re there and change the subject. I’ll be fine. My name’s Cass, I’m in Indiana and Barak Obama is the president. See? Brain works. Change the subject, ignore the pain in my voice. I’m fine.

Instead of being impressed with my strength (hahaha!) and changing the subject, he blew up.

“Cassie! Let me love you, gosh darn it!”

Wait. What? You need… Oh.
Vulnerability. Friendship. Reality. Right… Vulnerability terrifies me. Pain gets ignored because I don’t want anyone to know when I’m really breaking down.

That night I learned a lesson I pray I’ll never forget.

Sometimes, vulnerability, with those you love, is an act of service.
Sometimes, that act is merely so a friend can feel as if they really are sharing the load you’re carrying.

In Christian community, we’re not supposed to do this alone. I’d even venture further and say that if we attempt doing life alone… We’re sinning.

The thing that hit home for me that night was after I broke down and explained my fears… My friend moved on to a different subject.

But we both understood life a bit better because we were finally doing life together.

True Love

We live in a culture where love is an emotional thing.

I just about died laughing at the look on a friend’s face after I announced, “You’re such a dork- It’s a good thing I love you.” His face registered complete confusion, a bit of joy and a butt-load of hesitation. He didn’t say anything, but his face said it all, “Wait… You feel that way about me?” … No. No. No. Again, for good measure- No.

Thankfully, I’m at a Bible college. All I had to do was stare at him for an extra 3 seconds before he started spurting Scripture. “… Ohhhh. Love your neighbor as yourself. Right, right. Okay. Yeah. Hahaha, yeah. It’s a good thing you love me, Cass. Yup.”

In another conversation, I used the word “love” with the phrase “enough to say no.” As in… “I love you enough to say no.” That didn’t go over as easily. The concept that my love for a friend could be strong enough to be hurtful is just too oxymoron-ish. If I love a person that means I give them what they want, correct? You make me smile, you love me. You knowingly hurt me deeply.. You obviously detest me. It’s simple.

Or not.

The Greek word for “love” in the Biblical command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) is agapé. That form of love was once described as “Giving a person what they need the most when they deserve it the least.”

This means, at times, loving someone you truly don’t want to love. It also means there are times when God calls you to do something on another’s behalf (what they need) that they only interpret as hurtful. Love hurts.

Love that is based on an emotional (erotic or “friendly” love- either one) perception is dangerous. Depending only on that type of love is why divorce is the top discussion in a large majority of marriages. You hurt me… You must not like me.. Let’s quit.

Love is allowed to be emotional, and it can be a beautiful thing. But if that’s all love is… It won’t exist very long.

Here’s a thought (that will annoyingly be an open-ended question):

If Love was purely emotional, would Christ – as fully God and fully Man – have actually chosen the Cross and separation from Father God? If love had been optional and based on likability, would Christ see us as worth dying for?

The God I Lusted After

Recently, I received a very interesting note from an admirer. Thankfully, it wasn’t from a fellow college student; if it was, I wouldn’t be able to shrug it off and use it as a weird illustration. It wasn’t the most tastefully done note I’ve ever received… I know one thing: he loves me. Or at least he thinks he does.

Problem #1- The man doesn’t know me. He recognizes my face, knows my singing voice… But he doesn’t know me. He knows I’m the person to come to for cheap sign-language, but he doesn’t use sign. So his attraction to me is incredibly unfounded. But he’s convinced he would enjoy me. Ohhhh, okay.

Problem #2- The man has no idea what he wants. One line of his note said, “I want to hold your hand and cross the line that says ‘do not trespass…'” Wait. What? Why? There are so many levels to that plea… Which one… Oh never mind. No. He wants companionship but he has no way to rationalize the fact that his request logically can’t be met. (Believe me, I get it… But no.) The second I start fleshing out his fantasy with my character, his fantasy will fall apart. Let me say it again– he had no idea what he was asking.

I’ll be honest, praying for this man’s confusion hasn’t been on my mind this morning. I’m too fascinated by his version of reality, I jumped into analyzing. Someday, hopefully not too long from now, I’ll pray first, analyze second.

As I read over my newly acquired note for the third time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My admirer was doing to me what believers in Christ (myself included) often do to God.

1. We don’t know God, but we want intimacy with him that we don’t have to work on.
2. We have no idea our fantasy of “easy love” doesn’t go deep enough to answer what we long for. The second we get to know the God we say we want, we’ll realize that our fantasy of the “get-what-I-want Jesus” doesn’t work. But we’re willing to see if our half-butt attempts will work. Just in case. We don’t know what we want. But hey, we like Jesus. That’s enough, correct?

My note had one more part that broke my heart. “Write me, call me… I have no one.”

Although carnally I refuse to give this man what he wants… I could just hear the days when my heart screamed to my God, “Write me, Call me.. I have no one.” I could also hear God weep as He whispered, “But Child, I have. You want lust, I offer love. The choice is yours. Go deeper. I’m here.”

Politically Correct Uncomfortable Questions

I detest the topic of what’s “politically correct” to say to someone with a limitation. Absolutely hate it. So, since I hate it, I’m going to talk about it. It’s the logical solution. Beware, I’m not really shielding myself from sarcasm today.

Is it handicapped or disabled?

Is it disabled or handi-capable? (Really, Honey? Handi-capable?)

Is it mentally delayed or … Um… The “R” word?

Is it limitation or challenge?

Before I go into my opinion.. Let me make myself clear. I have a strong opinion on this stupid topic based on reason and the way I was raised. But it is only one person’s opinion. It’s just been brought up so much lately.. I have to speak up.

Also, there is NOTHING wrong with just asking questions. I’m more offended by people that think they know my life than I am by people with hurtful questions. If you’re genuinely curious, I could care less if your question is “Are you contagious?” Just ask questions. Most of us don’t bite. Most of us (myself especially) like talking. Talking about ourselves is even more fun.

Handicapped in the 50’s was polite. That idea makes me cringe. There’s nothing polite about the word “handicapped”. Handicapped was created by the concept of “hand to cap” beggar. When the word “handicapped” gets used, you’re unknowingly saying the person in front of you can’t do anything and is forced to beg. It’s humiliating, but to be fair, a large majority of people with noticeable differences don’t even know that. I’m a geek. I researched it several years ago, and now I can’t forget it. You’re welcome.

The one that really makes me laugh is “handi-capable”. I know… You’re trying to give me a leg up by calling me capable. But you forgot the root of that phrase. You didn’t call me capable… You called me special. If you want to call me capable, just call me capable. But then that’s just awkward.

I’m not addressing the mental status one for anything other than to say– you call someone retarded, you’re showing your own retardation. Just because someone processes, survives and lives differently than you do does not make them retarded.. They’re just as precious as you are, Kid.

Limitation or challenge… Let the person decide that one. If they don’t want to face their differences, either one can be down-right offensive. I’ll be honest, there are days I hate either one. But you won’t even get to this question with the person if they have this attitude. They make it clear.

I am not a cerebral palsy epileptic who happens to have a name. I’m Cassie, a quirky 20- something that refuses to let hang ups make me stop living. I have a disability. Not a handicap. I’m disabled, but I’m able to live despite it. It’s better to say “[name] has a autism” than to say “that autistic Kid”. My disabilities aren’t my identity.. But they do exist.

Regardless.. Look in the mirror and giggle. You’re just as disabled as I am, you’re just more socially acceptable. Learn to love the person and the questions become obsolete because you realize the personality shines through no matter what the answer to the question actually is.