Call Me An Unholy Roller


I'm not a socially outgoing person. I freely admit, I have taken out my cellphone and pretended to get a call just to avoid talking to people. If I can get away from strangers without saying a word, or even having to wave, I consider this a successful outing. 

I saw them in the park. Two women walking together. Both had hair long enough to sit on. One wore a pale blue kerchief covering her head, and the other wore her hair pinned back with barrettes. They both wore long denim jumpers. They saw me in my powerchair and they practically tripped over themselves to get close to me.

"Have you asked Jesus to heal you?"
"Do you know the Lord?"

Are you fucking kidding me? 

"Do you have a church home?"
"You should come to our church. We have a healing ministry that does miracles."
"Yes we do. You could be walking right now if you had the faith the size of a mustard seed."
"Have you asked the Lord Jesus into your life?"

One woman touched my powerchair! One woman touched my arm! Both women raised a hand in the air and began praying. "Oh Jesus, heal this poor woman. Oh, Jesus, heal her. We speak a healing in the name of Jesus. We rebuke the demon of lameness. We rebuke the demon in Jesus name! Ora-manda-anda hona-krabbandi. Or-han-on-lomoni, lokora-monda..."

What the actual fuck is going on? Why is this happening? I cringed and tried to figure out what to do next. All I wanted, was to go to the park on a beautiful day. Suddenly I was being prayed over like I went to a Benny Hinn revival. The most ridiculous part of this misadventure is, it wasn't the first time. My powerchair is a magnet for super Christians. 

Total strangers have no problem walking up to me and asking if I've accepted the Lord, or if I want to go to their prayer meeting. I've been invited to healing services. They will touch me and pray for me. They will "God bless," me. I want to tell them all to shut up and leave me alone. But, my parents installed Manners in my operating system, and then set an encrypted password so I can't uninstall the program. 

When these two women in the park finished praying, they told me their church raised people from the dead. Excuse me? Raised people from the dead? In 2014? Seriously? And that was supposed to encourage me to go with them to church? All I wanted to do was get away as fast as my batteries would take me. I was so irritated, but I didn't know what to do.

What pissed me off the most was, they didn't see me. They saw my chair and made a list of assumptions about me, and none of them were right. My powerchair is not a symbol. It is a tool. Glasses are for eyes. Wheelchairs are for legs. That's the only difference between them. Would these women have walked over to a person wearing glasses and pawed them? Would they have put their hands on their faces and babbled nonsense in Jesus name? Of course not. But, because I use a chair that makes me fair game?

Assuming I need healing because I am using a wheelchair pisses me off. If I am using a powerchair, I'm having a good day. That means my neuromuscular disease is attacking my legs today. 

What I want to tell people who assume I'm suffering because I'm using a chair is:

If I am using a wheelchair, I can breathe today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can feed myself today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can brush my hair today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can speak today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can use my computer today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can see today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can drive today.
If I am using a wheelchair, I can play music today.
If I am using a wheelchair I am having an absolutely kick-ass, awesome day.

I don't need my legs to work. I need my arms. I need to be able to breathe. I need to be able to chew, swallow, speak... Of all the muscles that muscular dystrophy weakens, my legs are the least important. Wheelchair days are the best days. I can't always see, chew, swallow, breathe comfortably, or move my arms. Days when I can are good days. Having strangers assume I am suffering because I use a wheelchair drives me nuts. If you must assume something about a person with a disability, assume competence. 

Arguh!

</Rant>

Sooner or later, I'll run into more tongue-speaking super Christians who want to touch me and heal me. The suggestion, "Climb out of your chair and praise the Lord just to screw with them," isn't my style. Can you help me figure out what to do next time instead of cringing? What is a polite solution to a rude problem? If you have any suggestions, or just want to commiserate, please leave a comment. Thanks!



Steve Weston  – (October 15, 2014 at 4:54 PM)  

I understand the tendency to not be rude, but when a stranger lays a hand on me and starts babbling an incoherent language I would draw the line. They at this point have invaded my personal space without invitation and deserve ridicule. Conversation, even if it is uncomfortable, is fine. After all it's free speech, but religion is no excuse to invade one's personal space like that. I would at the very least just turn around and leave. If I was in a very public space with others around I would probably even make a comment about their strange behavior in a manner that others would hear. I would be cautious of that if they are the only one around. Public ridicule needs observers to be effective. In seclusion you would only be angering them more than likely. Not a good move. I really like that list of phrases you put together. My favorite was the last line "If I am using a wheelchair I am having an absolutely kick-ass, awesome day!" I think that would be an awesome sticker for your wheels :)

Cathleen Smith  – (October 15, 2014 at 5:22 PM)  

I was alone in the park and quite vulnerable because I couldn't run away if they decided to get aggressive. I'll have to work on being more assertive. Maybe next time I'll tell them off. Thanks.

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