The sweet missionary who visits weekly showed me an illustration of God’s intended place for the obedient: all nationalities and animals living in peace, health, and plenty. No ill, injured, disabled, or aged are pictured. But rather than inspire, this picture disturbs me.
Someone who doesn’t grow old wouldn’t value life or its limited, precious moments.
I love old people. My parents and some running friends (all faster, farther runners than me) are in their 70s. They have surprising stories, they’re uplifting, and they love their grandchildren with abandon. I don’t want to live in a world without them.
A lot of healthy people diet and exercise for fear of disease and fat-avoidance. Why would we take care of our bodies if it didn’t matter and good health was guaranteed? Humans are notoriously lazy. We wouldn’t.
The perfect pictured world full of ageless, healthy people and animals that eat vegetables (?) instead of each other leaves out frailties and imperfections that make us mortal.
People with disabilities experience and interact with the world in incredible ways. Helen Keller is the most famous speaker, writer, motivator, and influencer. She might have been an entirely ordinary, less stubborn, not prolific person without her disabilities. Her impediments gifted the rest of us with her personality and her example.
What about Temple Grandin? Her books, humane livestock-handling inventions and systems, and her personal impact are the result of her autism. Without it, her mother would not have encouraged her TO LIVE and not hide from her challenges.
Our world would be lesser without Helen Keller’s and Temple Grandin’s blessings.
A world of perfection, health, and youth would also be a world lacking compassion, experience, and spirit. There would be no need without human foibles and flaws.
Flaws make humanity beautiful, unique, precious.
Death and pain are not good, but how could we value
each new day,
each new baby,
miraculous healing or
without knowing the alternative?
Humanity emerges in the direst situations, like serotinous pine cones that only release their seeds after a forest fire. We cannot forego the catalysts to hidden greatness. It is God manifesting within us.
I choose this flawed, messy life bursting with bittersweet potential over artificial perfection.
Featured photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash