Flora’s story is a testimony to God’s love and faithfulness even in the midst of trial and tragedy. Despite initial depression and questioning, Flora’s ability to see the bigger picture and maintain a strong faith in God is a great witness to others who may find themselves in similar circumstances.
One of the highlights of this book from a disability theology angle is the chapter “Journey Through the Land of People.” In this section, Flora describes two different common response to her injury: paradox and paradise. In the paradox stage, Flora discovered that people often choose to respond to someone “differently-abled” (her preferred terminology) with shock, pity, curiosity and uncertainty. In this phase, people either consider her “super-human,” or they rush in to provide “service.” Conversely, in the paradise response, people respond out of humility, love, and service. Flora writes, “Along the way, I met people with a kindred spirit, accepting me as a whole person, simply, honestly, connecting without judging, accepting me as I was. They were seeing my internal spirit not my external loss."
“Along the way, I met people with a kindred spirit, accepting me as a whole person, simply and honestly connecting without judging, accepting me as I was. They were seeing my internal spirit not my external loss.”
Even though I have served as an accessibility advocate for the past four years, Flora’s explanation offered me the invaluable perspective of someone who is differently-abled. This is a chapter I will refer to again and again in my own work, and I encourage other advocates to also become aware of this.
Flora’s book is genuine and sincere. It does not sugar-coat the harsh realities and difficulties facing people with disabilities (both in breaking away from societal norms and prejudices as well as the facing increased complications of performing more practical tasks). However, she also provides hope and support for those with physical disabilities by encouraging us to learn new methods of adaptation.
Although this book is a wonderful personal story and a great witness to her faith in God, my only caution would be surrounding some of the more graphic details she shares in her writing. Flora describes the accident and accompanying medical appointments in great detail. This is helpful in providing greater context to her reality and allows the reader to enter into her struggles. Nevertheless, for someone with a more sensitive disposition, the graphic details can become quite unsettling and uncomfortable. Therefore, the reader should be prepared as they encounter the description and reality of the injury.
I highly recommend Flora’s book both for individuals with disabilities as well as caregivers, friends, family members, and community activists. It is a book I believe belongs in every church library and wherever the message of disability inclusion is shared widely.
Thank you, Flora, for allowing me to enter into your story and your life.
Williams, Flora L. (2006). Hand in Hand With God: Witnessing on the Way. Baltimore, MD: Publish America.
Deborah-Ruth Ferber is a Field Associate and regular contributor to Opening Doors. She is Pastor for Children and Young Families at Trulls Road Free Methodist Church of Courtice, Ontario.