From a polio stricken lady about wheelchairs and freedom

Terry Austin received his first wheelchair as a gift from the United States nonprofit organisation March of Dimes that works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Growing up, going to church every Sunday was one of those never-miss activities for her family. She loved church because that’s where her friends would be. Her father was always her pastor.  Her father was a large man. He fought with the Marines in World War II and was wounded in the battle of Iwo Jima. He was the strongest man she ever knew, and she had a healthy fear, whether he was around or not.

When she was so young that the doctors had no conscience memory in her adult brain, she saw so many. Her earliest memories were of Dr. Matchett, an orthopedic surgeon who was assigned the task of helping her regain what she had lost to polio. She says

I remember him because of his gruff bedside manner. His training included treating wounded soldiers on the European battlefield during the war. {Prescription for the Church}

She dreaded visits to Dr. Matchett because he scared her.

His grey hair was perfectly coifed into a one-inch flat top, and he barked out orders to his nurse as if he were still a Colonel in the Army. Every time he saw me, he would grab my crooked foot, twist it straight, and say to my mom,

“This is the way it should look, and when he’s old enough, I’m going to fix it.”

It was painful; I hated it. When I turned 17, he did what he promised and fixed both of my feet, and made it possible for me to wear normal shoes. Prescription for the Church

Several years later she recognises

As painful as it was visiting Dr. Matchett if it were not for him repairing my feet and other stuff he did with my spine, I wouldn’t be here today. He knew what was needed for me to live to old age. The gruff doctor had a special place in our family, and we learned that when he said something was needed, we should listen. Years later, when he died, my mother sent his obituary to me, and I’ll admit, I grieved. Prescription for the Church

It was a few days before she started first grade in the small town of Eads in southeastern Colorado that she received her first wheelchair. Up until that time, the only way she could move around was to crawl on the floor or have someone carry her. Even having a wheelchair, she did not experience complete mobility. Stairs were always a problem, and her polio-weakened arms didn’t allow her to get too far away or traverse difficult terrain.

She writes

Things improved some when I was eleven and began walking on crutches. I continued to use a wheelchair for school and other times that required walking long distances, but now freedom was greater. Whenever Sharon would drag me shopping, I often waited in the car, which could be a long wait. When we went to the mall, I would typically walk in and find a central location where I could watch other folks shopping. {How to Live Free}

For her freedom came in the form of an electric wheelchair.

For the first time in my life, I was free to go places without help, without stopping to rest, and without worrying about a fall. Freedom is great. I didn’t especially enjoy shopping, but I did enjoy following Sharon up and down the store aisles and wandering around the mall. Conference Centers and parks were now a part of my world. Freedom is a great thing. {How to Live Free}

Read more: > How to Live Free

In that article she directs our attention to what we call the “Ten Commandments” within the context of freedom. She agrees that it seems strange to associate freedom with what we have always understood are binding rules. She writes:

Every preacher, worth his weight in communion wafers, has preached a series of sermons on keeping God’s commandments with a heavy emphasis on obedience. Obeying them certainly brings blessings, but they are still rules.

But let’s rethink this for a moment. The Israelites had been enslaved people for ten generations. They knew how to live according to rules imposed on them by a master. The last thing that would have interested them was more rules.

Jesus specifically did not come to “abolish” what they considered the law. He was there to “fulfill” or complete it. In other words, to bring it to complete fulfillment. Listen to what He said. Free people don’t murder because they have no need to be angry. Free people don’t commit adultery because they’re free from the lust after another man’s wife. Free people have no need to lie because the truth is enough. Free people don’t need revenge because God has given them everything they need.

When we are free from stuff, we are free from greed, anger, covetousness, and all the other emotions that separate us from others. We like to tell people that God is all we need, yet we live as if we are enslaved to other stuff. It’s inconsistent to say God has set me free, but it really makes me angry when you disagree with me, or I’m jealous of what you have, etc. We find ourselves living like the Israelites after leaving Egypt, wishing for what we left behind. {How to Live Free}

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Health affairs, Lifestyle, Positive thoughts, Religious affairs

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