I’ve just had a lovely holiday abroad - only possible with a gift we receive for that purpose, and the fact that when there’s only two of you and you need accessible accommodation…It’s cheaper to go abroad!
When I go through the airports I have ‘priority’ labels stuck on my wheelchair and my luggage - it makes me look very important and means I get to board the plane ahead of everyone else.
Or is it?
On the way back home, there are often queues snaking back into the heat outside of the small (air-conditioned) airport. So as you get wheeled through to the head of the queue, you get a lot of disgruntled comments from other passengers - sometimes the same passengers who have given you the rather patronising ‘head tilt of compassion’ as they’ve seen hubby wheel me around the resort. Oh how thoughts change when your rights to not being queue jumped are being challenged!
That moment in Kalamata airport is my only experience of being a priority. Would the moaners really want to swap? I sometimes wonder if I left the sticker on my chair people would would be better behaved?
Look at me - I’m a priority case - be nice to me!
Truth is - I’m a priority at that airport because it helps the airline, and it actually helps the other passengers too - going through security in a wheelchair takes longer so going through earlier doesn’t hold those passengers up, and I board the plane early so I’m not causing a traffic jam when they board. If they looked beyond that moment of seeing me sail past them in the queue, they would see this is actually helpful to them too.
On my way to London yesterday I had time to think about all this.
I was going to write the standard “To the people who complained at Kalamata airport” type post (The type I vowed I woul never write!) because I get upset inside when people grumble at me for no real reason - other than queue jumping!) I wanted to challenge them and make them understand - “in the long term, this will benefit you too”.
But then I got thinking more…. and God did some challenging of his own.
Where were MY priorities?
I often say that my disability doesn’t automatically give me rights to everything - I have to think of other people too.
I also often say that sometimes disabled people need to ‘get over themselves’ and remember that having a disability doesn’t make you the centre of the universe - yes we may need specific accommodations to allow us to function, but we need to think of others too. What might help one individual person with a specific disability may be extremely unhelpful to 20 others with a different disability. Or sometimes be dangerous to hundreds of others with no disability. We have to be careful where and when we demand priority treatment.
I firmly believe that as a follower of Jesus I have to follow his example, so that makes my metaphorical neighbours a priority too.
So what did God say to me specifically? Especially after praying over a particularly busy schedule over the next couple of months?
With the work I do - you would expect me to say children, families or those with additional needs are the priority.
But no, He didn't say that. He spoke about Himself, and He spoke about me.
In God’s eyes - I am a priority. Yes - this is truth, and disability has nothing to do with that. Because I am His creation - I am a priority.
Because of that fact - do I make God a priority in my life?
If He is, I should skip the huge queue of tasks and take time with him first - even if every fibre of my body says otherwise. In the long term, it’s better for me and a lot better for the queue of tasks when I do them.
It is because I am His priority, He insists that I make Him my priority. It's for my benefit.
When it comes to faith and relationships - Priority works both ways.