A friend once said, “It seems like you’re not living within the reality of your disabilities.” I was quite surprised by this comment. As I listen, an old cartoon character came drifting to the surface. It was Mr. Magoo.
“Wait a sec. Do you think I’m some sort of Magoo?” I asked. My friend recognized the reference and said “Yes”. “Don’t worry, I do know the difference between a grizzly and a guy in a fur coat,” I chuckled.
Mr. Magoo is an old cartoon that aired in the early 70s. The main character was extremely nearsighted and functioned as if this was not so.
You would think such a person would wear glasses or use a white cane; not so with Mr. Magoo. He acts like he has perfectly good eyesight and he’d mistake a grizzly bear for a man wearing a heavy fur coat. The show would feature Mr. Magoo getting into all kinds of mishaps and being rescued by poor Charlie.
Being born nearsighted, I gave no thoughts to what was being depicted in this old cartoon. I just had fun watching the show and enjoyed the film, “A Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol”. For my friend, it painted a picture of someone not living within perceived safe limits. If he thought I was pushing the limit; there are some people that would have blown his mind. I happen to know some of them.
They are people who live a “life without limits”. They don’t sit back and wonder “Is it safe to do this?” They are not focused on what they can’t do; rather they are living in the reality of what they can do. I hesitate to include myself because I don’t always walk in the truth of this. I certainly had moments of fears and doubts. Then again, we all have those moments.
What does it means to live a “life without limits”? Here are some of my own insights that I’ve gained over the years. Visual impairment is not the only physical limitations I was born with. I was born with a moderate – severe hearing loss. In 1964, the general opinion of my future was not good.
Thankfully, my parents raised me to be very independent. According to my mother, I was tying my shoes at the age of 2. Why? My parents were determined that I learn self reliance for fear I would not have anyone to help. Sounds good? There were a few problems and it plays right into the idea of “life without limits”.
First, my disabilities are not a prison. My parents never raised me to view my disabilities, as such. Because I grew up with a strong sense of independence and a “can do” attitude, I never gave it much thought and neither did my two brothers.
I can still recall going fishing, canoeing, boating and sledding with my father and brothers. Rest assured, I did get into my own fair share of mischief. To top this, I graduated from Stockton State College. No, my disabilities did not stop me, from living.
What then? Does a “life without limits” mean ignoring my very real physical limitations? The answer is “no”. For example, the only way that I’ll be able to drive a car is for one of two things to happen. The first will have to be God miraculously giving me a set of new eyes. Modern medicine is not able to help; so it has to be God. The second is for God to take over the wheel and do the driving. I am not able to drive safely; due to poor vision.
It would be dangerous and unwise to ignore the reality of my current eyesight. Again, the answer is “No.” I do have to respect my limitations and work with them. I don’t get to ignore them. What then? I have to look for solutions that address the problems.
Though I can’t drive a car, I do manage to get around. When I lived in Phoenix AZ, I made great use of public transportation: cabs, buses, Dial A Ride and walking. This is how I did my grocery shopping, attend church and have a life.
When I moved back to Toms River NJ, I no longer had access to an extensive mass transit system. Ocean County currently has very poor public transportation. To get around, I needed a community of friends and family. My Father provided the friends through Shore Vineyard Church. Family members were also a source of help.
This brings up a reality check that I learned years ago. I can’t do it, alone. No human being is an island unto himself. Man is not self sufficient, only God is self sufficient. Truth is, I do need help and it’s not a bad thing. It is not shameful to let your friends help you; even if it isn’t always needed. A “life without limits” is doing some things on your own and not being afraid to let others help.
Here is the funny part about having a “life without limits”. You can be a help, to others around you. For years, I never gave this simple truth much thought. It never quite dawned on me that other people would welcome my help. Just because I have serious limitations in my eyesight and hearing, it does not mean I can’t be a blessing to someone.
What’s the hold up? The answer is “fear” and sometimes “ignorance”. “Fear” because we’re afraid of people’s opinion or place too much value in it. Don’t be afraid to step up to the plate. Place your confidence in Jesus Christ and not in mere flesh. This is easy to say but I have had to struggle in this area. However, please don’t give up trying to trust God. This is a key to living a “life without limits”.
The other item was “ignorance”. A friend once asked “How can you do web design on a computer?” She has notice I was very nearsighted and was curious to know. I’m glad she asked the question, for it was more than many other people have done. Not everyone is aware of my use of screen magnification software or of the workarounds that I learned to use. How can they?
Most people do not have experiences with adaptive technology or workarounds that lets a blind person do many activities that a sighted person would take for granted.. The only way is either to ask or I share the information. This is how ignorance is overcome.
Please remember, people are not mind readers. We don’t have the ability to know what another person is thinking. Only God, the Father knows what you’re thinking before a thought forms in your head. I don’t and neither does anyone else.
In the end, there is a final key to a “life without limits”. It’s a spiritual key and not like the above items. It requires that Jesus is Lord in our lives. Without Jesus, we can’t have a true “life without limits”. For, it is in Christ that we do have life and Jesus said it would be life abundant. (John 10:9-11).