Can’t….or Can?

Poster is from 
Stickman Communications

Image description: A4 Poster with paragliding stickman who is in a wheelchair. Text: Can’t exists…but I’m too busy with can to worry about it.

A4 Poster with paragliding stickman who is in a wheelchair. Text: Can’t exists…but I’m too busy with can to worry about it.

I’m often told I can’t or I shouldn’t…….
I can’t do a ministry job, I can’t go there, I can’t travel on that train (because the only wheelchair space is taken), I shouldn’t be doing that in my ‘condition’.

I grew up being told I wouldn’t cope or wouldn’t like things. My diary was monitored and I was told what I couldn’t do, or it was made clear there would be consequences. I want to say to my young self “Yes you can” for each time I was told I couldn’t (When I actually could!)

I’ve had a lifetime of either being told I can’t or, without words, had it made clear I shouldn’t do things. 

The trouble is, when I’m told I can’t do something, If I can’t see a good reason why not, I’ll try!

At primary school I was told I would never pass any O levels – I did, A levels too! I even had the joy of nursing that teacher’s child as a student nurse and showing him what I achieved…

When I was a teenager, the church I went to told me I shouldn’t go to Spring Harvest because it was of the devil(!) So I moved churches and later went to Spring Harvest (and still work alongside them today).

I was told not to read certain books because they were ‘unscriptural’, but I still read them. I wanted a rounded view of what people thought and had a desire to sharpen and challenge my thinking – surely that’s a good thing?!

Since I’ve been more obviously disabled I get the shouldn’t/couldn’t even more.

Medical people can’t understand that I work. Come to think of it, lots of other people think that too! I can, and don’t tell me I can’t or shouldn’t.

The way people word or do things can often give the impression that disabled people shouldn’t do stuff. Can’t get into the pulpit? Then preaching isn’t for you. Can’t gather round someone on the platform to pray for them? Then that isn’t for you. Can’t get to where communion is being served? Then that isn’t for you either. No one is saying you can’t, but the fact you can’t do it feels like that is the message.

I use a wheelchair and I have a visual impairment. I know there are somethings I can’t do, like run a marathon, climb lots of stairs, get onto some trains without a ramp. But, to quote Hannah Ensor’s poster above “Can’t exists…but I’m too busy with can to worry about it.”

What I do worry about however are the “can’ts” that are placed on me by others – In my day to day life, in my ministry, when I travel and other things.

Not travelling to a meeting should be my choice, not enforced by inaccessibility, or not being invited because of assumptions about my disability.

Restaurants that say ‘we don’t get many of you’ (referring to my wheelchair) so don’t make adaptations, are saying by their actions “No, you can’t”

There are many situations like this in our churches: Assuming disabled people and those with additional needs can’t serve, minister, or even learn about Jesus are just a few. Faith often comes with a whopping big “Can’t do properly” label when you’re disabled or have an additional need.

So, referring once again to that poster above: I’m busy saying “can” to all those people who think those of us with disabilities and additional needs “can’t“.

Some people find me irritating or get fed up with me because I keep raising this, and I often feel like the villain for keep saying it, and I hate feeling like that.

I’m not a brave person, I’m not inspirational. I’m an introvert who has been called by God for a purpose. 

He doesn’t see “can’t” He sees “Possibility”. 

I’m so thankful that He can see the possibilities in me.

He sees them in you too.

Yes. You. Can.

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