Cultivate Community

Pausing Before We Have To

What do your responses to others tell you about yourself?
by Andrew Crow-Roberts | July 28, 2022

Distancing is a common stance when observing others with life challenges, such as disabilities— whether seen or unseen. We get this vibration deep inside when we come across an individual that flows against our daily cadence (our rhythm or expectations), and we take note of the subtle nuances. 

Has something changed? 

  • “No.” Good, let’s move on. 
  • “Yes.” Okay, what is different and to what degree? 

And then we investigate to a point of our measured level of comprehension … then repeat. We do this assessment thousands upon thousands of times a day when we interact with one another. And suddenly, before we notice, our lives become more full, especially if we choose to engage with the disruption of another person’s challenges with abilities.

When things start to get personal

Then a moment comes along when there is a significant disruption with our personal life cadence. Suddenly this is where a long pause occurs and the other can become oneself. A vacuum, if you will, fills that void and often it’s unsettling. We ourselves are now challenged. Commonly we associate these feelings with “bad” or “difficult” and “different”—sometimes “overwhelming.” There is a shift in our hearts and minds.

That’s where another pause needs to occur, and for most that is even more unsettling. We ask ourselves consciously and subconsciously, “What should I do now?”

That’s where a pause should transform into a full “STOP!”

At this point we have already struck several challenges in these situations of our life’s cadence. Can we see them or are they still unseen? 

A person can see this from the perspective of, “I’m viewing someone with challenges” or they can approach it from the personal perspective of, “I have these challenges, so what can I do and what can I not do about them?” The challenges and abilities of oneself and others become a new “other” that seem to be permanent. (A lot of dualism is occurring here, isn’t it?)

Reflecting on faith and disability

As a person that is classified as “100% Permanently and Totally Disabled” dualisms like these creep in all day, everyday as I struggle with how I am, who I am, what others notice about me, and what they don’t. It’s extremely challenging to be in a permanent “pause” with myself and then to be seen as pausing as others take time with me and more often …do not. It’s a rarity if there is a full “STOP” both in myself and in others. Yet, when they do occur, a space breaks open and something floods in if we focus and attempt to see the often overlooked.

Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians about “present weakness and resurrection life” in chapter four. He is seeing from the perspective of Jesus and translating it back to us. We really need to “STOP” and check this out. Jesus is right there in that gap, that “pause” with ourselves and with others that we see as challenged with abilities and He is asking us to “pause” and look again… and maybe even “stop.” This is truly unbelievable that Christ has this overwhelming power to go with all the abilities of the divine coupled with His humanity and “pause,” and “stop” wherever and whenever we “STOP” to reflect on Him… and ourselves coupled with Him. 

I didn’t always do this prior to being “awarded” my more full 100% stop. I didn’t even “pause” at times. I kept moving and moving … till I crashed into a full “STOP,” because I wasn’t seeing the unseen in me and in others with challenges—like disabilities. I was distant with myself and with others. And it was only when I stopped and assessed that Jesus was there all along the path, challenges or not, in the going, in the pauses and the stops that I realized that I am not “permanently” challenged when I see Him and through His eyes. Others are not “permanently” challenged when I see Jesus Christ in them. A new type of stance is created in oneself whenever we “stop” and are put into these dualisms, fracturing us apart like a jar of clay and a new wonderful power is displayed in that sacred space. It’s a new type of broken that isn’t broken. 

Online learning creates new possibilities

As a lay leader student of Faith+Lead Academy online I have been given the capability to explore living out the gospel in every aspect and attribute of my life. The online community has fostered a deeper connection within me to surpass all of the challenges life has presented to me, including the day-to-day obstacles that my disabilities present. Fellow students meet me where I am at in my challenges, whether it’s my difficulties to speak, to see clearly and read or even breathe from moment to moment … they “pause” and hold the space with me. 

In the monthly online classroom environments I’m met with unparalleled prayerful compassion and patience by peers and mentors alike, looking to harbor a fuller body of faith with myself and the whole community of Christ. In a short period of time I found myself in a spiritual family like no other that is based on empowerment and kindness, as well as ecumenical kinship that broadens my personal relationship with Jesus. This is an extraordinary opportunity to build on top of all my life experiences and hone the skills necessary for sharing God’s Word in a truly devoted and intimate way that connects holistically with my disabilities, captures the living breath of scripture and positively challenges myself and others to serve with humble hearts, grace filled minds, and redemptive souls. This truly is the Living and Eternal Body of Christ given and open to all.

Join the Faith+Lead Learning Lab, and explore the opportunities for yourself.

About the Author

Andrew Crow-Roberts

Andrew Crow-Roberts is a Lay Leadership student in the Faith + Lead Academy. As a retired U.S. Air Force Aircraft Structural Maintenance Technician and Machinist for over 20 years, he channeled his service directly back to those that served him in faith and love while he was home and abroad. Since his departure from the USAF he has answered new callings in Stephen Ministries, Assistant Ministries, Spiritual Art Mentorship, Congregational Council Leadership and Eucharist Ministries for fellow disabled veterans and shut-ins. He enjoys living outdoors in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and often is reading, hiking, playing guitar and being creative in any artistic medium.

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