When Disability Reveals the Depths of My Dependence

This year, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner in a wheelchair.

Not to raise funds for my favorite disability organization. Not as a show of solidarity with my friends who get around in wheelchairs. Not in memory of my father, who used a wheelchair to get around for 38 years.

No, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner in a wheelchair because I'm clumsy.


So clumsy that I fell getting out of the car, thanks to malicious purse straps that wound themselves around my leg, and broke my right foot. Since that day in early October I've had surgery, worn a boot while the foot heals, and am using crutches or a wheelchair to get around.

Mostly the wheelchair because crutches are not a safe choice for people who trip getting out of cars.

After the doctor pointed out the break in metatarsal #5 and issued strict non-weight bearing orders for what seemed like (and still seems like) an inordinate number of weeks, I vowed to do as much for myself as possible. As a result of that vow I can now do the following:

  • Bump up and down stairs on my behinder
  • Housecleaning chores such as sweeping, vacuuming, scouring sinks, scrubbing toilets, and emptying garbage cans in a wheelchair
  • Entertain a 2-year-old with wheelchair rides around the house
  • Cook meals, bake cookies and muffins, make granola in a wheelchair
  • Empty the dishwasher and do dishes at the sink with my trusty wheelchair right ready to catch me if I fall
  • Exercise for 30-60 minutes a day to Caroline Jordan's hurt foot videos
  • And of course, cooking Thanksgiving dinner

Pretty impressive list, isn't it?

But here's the thing. Just when I get to feeling pretty proud of my independence, something always happens to show me how much I need help from others to accomplish these tasks.

  • My daughter has to put the crutches at the bottom of the stairs or I'm beached on the bottom step.
  • I can only fix meals if someone brings necessary ingredients from the freezer or basement.
  • My sister came the day before Thanksgiving to help with the cooking.
  • My husband, my daughter, or son-in-law have to put the broom and vacuum in place and carry the garbage outside.
  • My husband has to rearrange his work schedule to accommodate my medical appointments.
  • My daughter and son-in-law have to do all the shopping.

In those moments, I realize how utterly dependent I am on others. And when I am honest enough and still enough to seek God's voice, He uses those moments to reveal the depth of my dependence upon Him. In those moments I realize that only because He is in my life and because His Spirit is within me, am I able to:

  • Get up each morning for daily devotions instead of sleeping in because a broken foot is exhausting.
  • Swallow my pride and ask for assistance with what I used to do so easily by myself.
  • Calm my natural impatience and wait for others to help.
  • Thank God for what I can do instead of dwelling on what I can't.
  • Accept this present slower pace of life and sometimes even enjoy it.
  • Get outside my present circumstances and look for ways to help others.

Only because Christ is in my life can I lay down my pride, acknowledge my dependence upon Him, and rejoice in it. Only because of Him does the center of my life shift from what I can do to what He has done. Only because of Him do I know and cherish the truth that feeds my soul no matter how much or little I am able to do: What He has already done is enough and is more than enough to carry everything I cannot.

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9