Last night, I was watching the Little House episode in which Mary went blind. Mary went to a school for the blind in Iowa, where she met Adam Kendall, her future husband.
Adam tried to get her to stop feeling sorry for herself and to start acting like a person with dignity. He wanted her to eat properly (with her fork) and walk with confidence (“Don’t shuffle!”). She was not to use her blindness as an excuse to wither away! And he also taught her skills she would need, such as reading braille.
Mary had every right to be upset. She had always dreamed of becoming a teacher, and now she felt as if her life was over. Plus, seeing nothing but darkness can be very depressing. But Adam taught her to cope and succeed with her disability, and she developed a greater sensitivity in her other senses (i.e., hearing). Even so, long after she had become blind, she still wished to see again.
On the episode in which she was going blind, her father, Charles, wondered how God could allow this tragedy. Reverend Alden told him that we’re only finite, whereas God is infinite in his wisdom. And he said that God must have a special plan for Mary. And God did, for Mary became a teacher of the blind, helping other blind people to cope and succeed with their disability. That comforted Reverend Alden when he himself started questioning God’s will, which occurred when the railroad was forcing people to move from Walnut Grove.
This episode made me think of three things, all of them related to my own condition, Asperger’s:
First of all, I should act like a person with dignity. Often, I don’t. To be honest, I don’t go through life with a whole lot of confidence. It’s hard when I feel disliked or disabled to assume that I have anything to offer the world. And it’s difficult for me to share my opinion when I think that nobody else cares about it. But I am created in God’s image, and that gives me value. I should act like a person of dignity, regardless of what others may think about me.
Second, the question I should be asking myself is, “Where do I go from here?” I know I have a disability, which doesn’t exactly lead to all that fulfilling of a life. And yet I should not spend my time in a state of self-pity. I should try to find ways to cope and succeed with my condition, like Mary Ingalls did.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with my therapist about this topic. I told him that many people with Asperger’s have discouraged me because of their inability to hold down a job. I expressed fear that this would happen to me. He responded that I should inquire about why they lost their job in the first place so as to learn from their mistake, and I should also seek to offer them advice. When I responded that I don’t know what advice to offer, he said that I don’t have to be a sage. A lot of it is asking, “Where do we go from here?” and brainstorming through ideas. Unlike self-pity, that’s a constructive approach that leads somewhere.
Third, God may have a special plan for me in my disability. At first, Mary wanted to be a normal teacher who taught normal students. But her blindness made her an extraordinary teacher with an extraordinary mission. That may be the case with me, who knows? At the moment, I don’t feel much of a calling to teach students with Asperger’s. But who’s to say where God will lead me? As I gain knowledge about how to cope and succeed with my disability, wouldn’t it be great to help others with my condition? It would make all those years of suffering a lot more fruitful, let me tell you! Or perhaps I can be one more example of someone who succeeds with the syndrome, inspiring others not to give up hope.
In real life, Mary did not meet Adam Kendall or go on to teach blind students. She went to a school for the blind in Iowa to learn how to cope, then she lived with her family in South Dakota (not Walnut Grove, Minnesota–see Mary Ingalls – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). On face value, that’s not as exciting as the television version, but who knows? Perhaps she succeeded in certain areas. After all, she managed to go on with her life. I remember reading one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, and Mary didn’t strike me as bitter. That’s an accomplishment all by itself! And she was surrounded by people she loved, who also loved her.