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#RestoreUnity by Shirley Hartnett activ8her

By Shirley Hartnett

One day my son Matt asked if his friend could come over to play. I called Bob’s (not his real name) mother to set it up. After arranging the details, Bob’s mom hesitantly asked me if I knew anything about her son. She went on the explain how severely disabled her son was (severe cerebral palsy).

At that time, I didn’t know her world of wheelchairs, Hoyers, ramps, and an assortment of medical equipment would one day become my world, as well. Matt was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterized by a progressive loss of muscle. The severe muscle loss affected his walking and eventually led to a wheelchair at 10, which included ramps and Hoyers. Medical equipment to help him breathe came later.

I asked Matt to tell me something about Bob.

“He has brown hair and brown eyes. He is super smart and super funny,” Matt said.

“Anything else,” I asked.

“No, Mom.”

“Matt, does Bob walk?” I asked.

“No, Mom.”

“Does he talk?”

I asked Matt if Bob could walk, talk, or feed himself and all the other things Bob’s mom had told me. Bob came over and despite all his disabilities, these two boys had a great time together. Watching, I realized my son didn’t see any of Bob’s disabilities, he saw the person’s heart. He knew the disabilities, but they didn’t matter.

I realized that is how God sees us.

That was the first of many friends. Vets, homeless people, many more disabled people, abandoned animals …

Each opening my eyes to a new way to see people.

To me homogeneity is easy. It's easy to be with people who are like us. To hide behind excuses, such as, “that’s just the way I was raised.” But God of the Universe calls us to unity. It’s harder but better. He isn’t saying we can’t disagree; but let's not divide. He isn’t saying to gloss over our feelings; but let's not be ruled by them.

Preparing for Bob needed Hoyers, ramps, and pureeing his food, not-to-mention how awkward I felt with the personal hygiene. But we all loved it, Bob most of all.

God’s unity is more than just getting along, it's learning how to get along in God and become witnesses on Earth of His love for all.

Shirley Hartnett co-coordinates the North Syracuse chapter of Activ8Her.

Thank you, Shirley for reminding us that we can have unity despite our differences.

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