Friday, May 20, 2011

Take Heart

Take Heart: For families living with disability, Kate Hurley

After reading Ella, another friend recommended Take Heart, which also addresses living with disability in a family, but from a broader perspective.

It is also excellent. Ella was a personal story of one woman’s experience, this is a compilation of many families’ experiences.

What is the greatest strength however, is the biblical input it also provides. This is an unashamedly Christian resource, written by Christians and for Christians. It will help those who are already in the role of parent and carer, and others as they seek to understand and support those around them who care for people with disability.

It’s primary focus is children, all perspectives are written by parents or grandparents, however some of those children are now adults. It represents a high number of families managing autism, but also includes Down’s syndrome, deafness and some congenital and rarer disabilities.

Each section begins with a one-page summary of a characteristic of God and the way he has worked in the world, these include:
  • we are made in His image
  • the eternal hope we have in Christ
  • the peace of God
  • prayer
  • love, etc.

Each is very simple, yet also incredibly profound and helpful when thinking about disability. Each brings the Scripture to bear on the truth and shows how God works. It’s easy to read quite quickly, yet a slower and more thoughtful reading of each would bear much fruit. Interspersed between each of these sections is a personal testimony, mainly by parents, and here is where much of the emotion is found.

In the introduction, Kirk Patston makes a very helpful comment, which those of use who count ourselves ‘able-bodied’ would do well to remember: “When it comes to the ability to be wise, we are all disabled.” (p9)

Cecily Paterson, in her account of her son with autism, says this:
If we humans were truly able to love, having a disabled child would not be a cause of such sorrow. It might create a few extra challenges, but parents would not fear for their children, and societies would care for them. The ‘imperfect people’ in our world show up everybody else’s imperfection.

Love isn’t always easy. It isn’t always convenient. And the objects of love are not always attractive. I’m stunned again to think how great is God’s love for us, who are truly and thoroughly disabled, that he should give up his own son to make us perfect and beautiful in his sight. (p18)

For me, the most practically helpful section was the final chapter on how our churches can help. There were practical suggestions, but also the recognition that families with disabilities need understanding and they also need to understand ways people try to help (even if it’s not that helpful). There are suggestions for how we can support carers, siblings and those with disabilities, as well as making our churches better equipped to welcome those with disabilities. There is also the reminder that as a church we need to be willing to support these families for the long term: practically, with prayer, and with love and care.

For such a short book, it packs an incredible punch.

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