Faith before flags

The rigour of unity

July 5, 2024 | Feature | Volume 28 Issue 9
Rhianna McGregor Hajzer |
Supplied photo.

I spent my mid-twenties holding my disability flag high, confident that I’d found my calling. This was my cause. These were my people. Wholly devoted to the disability community and its quest for equality, I wrote and spoke, adding my voice to the throng of those already raising the battle cry. This was where I belonged.


I was a disability rights advocate, and a proud one.


But after a couple years of following the diversity, equity and inclusion agenda, all the energy, time and words that I’d poured out for the cause were coming back to me void. I was drained and unmotivated, my fingers poised above my keyboard, ready to write more advocacy rhetoric, but I couldn’t type a single word. What was wrong?


Then my pastor said that to put any worldly identity before our Christian identity is sin, and it clicked. That’s what I’d done. In searching for meaning in a disabled body, I’d made disability pride my identity, and consequently, an idol. I was no different than the people who live without the saving grace of Christ Jesus, who find their identity in the snares of the world’s values.


It makes me think about Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. When she prayed for a child, she promised that if she was granted her request, she would give him back to the Lord and surrender her role as mother to the high priest, Eli.


While handing over a child to a spiritual leader seems unthinkable in our cultural context, parenthood is still important. It can be a marker of status and identity.


Hannah laid it all down for the sake of the Lord, enduring insults from her husband’s second wife. She knew her identity was in God, not in her ability to reproduce and raise children.


Hannah’s son was a gift, a blessing from the Lord. And her first act as a mother was to give him back. My blindness, though not a gift in the traditional sense, is nonetheless a blessing from the Lord, and I believe that for it to be used to its full potential to glorify him, I need to surrender it to him, fully and completely.


We read in II Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” As followers of Christ, our identity is in Jesus because of his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Whatever he bestows upon us to bear in this life is his concern, not ours. We need only to bear it well.


Embracing my true identity means rejecting my old one. Does this mean that I also reject the tangible issues that disabled people face on a daily basis, such as inaccessibility, discrimination and ableism? Of course not; addressing them is still a worthy pursuit. But I no longer use the term disability rights advocate because, whether or not I wave the disability flag, I know who I am and in whom I’m found: my identity is in Jesus Christ, secure and assured.


Rhianna McGregor Hajzer is a writer who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Supplied photo.

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