“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Today I was driven to tears for two completely different reasons. The first time was tears of joy, and then, of sadness. It actually doesn’t happen often at work, that I feel so strongly either way, but today the two extremes met each other. And I remembered why I do what I do. I need that reminder from time to time. It keeps me sane.
I am an Assistive Technology Specialist. It really is what God made me to be. By license I am a speech language pathologist, and that is still a part of me, and a part of what I do. But, truth be told, working on articulation bores me to no end. Basic language skills aren’t much better. My real love is working with non verbal students, and helping them find a way to communicate with their world. Helping to give them a voice. Because words are so much a part of who we are. Beyond that, helping students with severe motor impairments access their world, whether it be communication, using a computer, being able to read, or to listen to music. I am built to help people do everything possible to interact independently with their world, no matter how little movement their bodies have. I don’t know why I am built that way, but I am. I am actually good at it, somewhat despite myself. I think when God calls, if we are willing, He works though us. I sure couldn’t do it on my own.
I am also a person with disabilities, and chronic illness. And if I didn’t do what I do, I think I would likely have pity parties on a regular basis. When it hurts me to walk because my back is out again, I am reminded what a gift it is to be able to walk. Many of my students can’t. When I have to go to the bathroom for the 5th time in a morning I am reminded that I can walk and go by myself, without needing help. Many of my students can’t. I am in pain everyday, but there are so many things I can do.
Beyond that, living a life of service to others reminds me that I have a purpose. That what I do matters to someone. If I were to stay home every time I start to go into a flare, there are a lot of things I could do to help a student that wouldn’t happen. If I were to choose to not work because it takes so much of my life, those I serve would lose out. If I were to just check out emotionally, like I sometimes want to do when the toll of chronic pain breaks me down, I wouldn’t be there for others. My job keeps me sane. It really does.
Back to today. The tears of joy. A student I have known and worked with for about 5 years was trying out an eyegaze communication device. We weren’t sure he would do well with it because he has vision issues, but he rocked that baby! He did more with it than we could hope. I have rarely been so excited at work in all my life. And then the tears of sadness. The PT who was working with us on the device shared that another student had passed away last night. I didn’t work with him often, but I had before and knew him. As I know most if not all of the students in our district with severe motor impairments. He was so young, with so much life left. Just gone too soon.
So today I had that reminder. This is why I do what I do. Because it keeps me sane.