What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name?” -Shakespeare

My dad started teaching English and History in 2001, when I was 4 years old. I don’t remember specifics about that time, but I do know that being around stories my whole life has helped me develop some traits that I really value in myself: imagination, empathy, and, most important to this subject, a deep respect for personhood and everything that makes people who they are.

One aspect of personhood that I’ve always been really fond of, especially since I’ve been writing my own stories, is names. I know not everyone feels this way about them, but, to me, names are that thing that hold the essence of a person. In stories, names can carry meanings that tell you something essential about the character. In reality, a name can instantly bring to mind images of a person you love, who makes you smile and makes life better. It can just as quickly conjure up images of the opposite.

As I’ve been exploring my relationship with gender and which labels and pronouns fit best for me, I’ve never really had a desire to choose a different name, though I completely respect other transgender people who decide their birth name doesn’t fit who they are. As I said, I believe names hold the essence of a person, and I’ll defend a person’s right to choose the name which does that for them to the end of time. But I digress. My point is, my name was never a source of discomfort for me. That is, it never caused me to feel uncomfortable in my pangender self. By contrast, I’ve never really felt super content with my pronouns for very long. Using she/her wasn’t right, as it felt too restrictive and didn’t completely align with my experience with gender. The same can be said for he/him. But they/them pronouns, which I’ve been using publicly since December of last year, feel vague and slightly wrong, too.

And y’know what? I finally figured out why.

No pronouns are me. My name is me. Jordanne is my life experience. Jordanne is my history. Jordanne’s my essence and every little complicated nuance that makes up the disabled, Jesus loving, white, anarchist, graysexual, omniromantic, pangender humxn I am.

So, what’s in a name? Everything, Shakespeare.

Everything that a pronoun could never encapsulate. And I’m going to use that name of mine as much as I can. I respectfully ask you to use it when referring to me, too.


Bright Places and Bright People


I’m not sure how many people know this by now, but I (along with my parents) have recently been going through a pretty scary time in my life. For those who’ve already heard the story, I’ll spare the details. If you don’t know yet, and you’ve got the time, I told a condensed version of the story on my Instagram that you can read here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRHYg04B-D9/ .

This post is both all about this event, and about something very different. You see, the days following this event have been, in a word, turbulent. Turbulent is a word which here means “unsettled or raging”. (Can I get a high-five for that A Series of Unfortunate Events reference? Oh, you haven’t watched it yet? WHAT ARE YOU DOING READING THIS INSTEAD OF no I’m just kidding, please keep reading because I love you.) But, you know what? At times turbulent hasn’t felt completely bad. Sometimes turbulent just feels like the opposite of peaceful. And, my mind being the way it is, I’ve tried to tell myself that, because it doesn’t feel totally bad to be without peace, it’s okay. Maybe this is how I have to feel right now.

I don’t know if that’s true. I’d like to believe it’s not. But, regardless, that’s not really what I want to talk about right now. I want to tell you all about the days that I’ve felt safe. And I want to adequately appreciate where I was and who I was with that helped me feel that way. So, without any further rambling on my part, here we go.

Around 4:30AM is when this event occurred. As it was a Sunday, we went to church that morning. A few hours later, we decided it would be a good idea to head out of town. So we went to Seattle to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and 1-year-old nephew, and spend the night there.

It’s really amazing how much just being in the same space as a new, innocent human can make everything feel better and brighter. Being in that safe place, that was untouched by the shadow which seemed to have settled over my house that day, helped my mind and heart remember that there was still goodness in the world that I could experience, and it wasn’t far away. I only had to look up a bit from the dark to see the bright place just beyond it.

Now, I must acknowledge that there have been so many people who have helped me remember the goodness that can, and does, exist in humanity. And I truly wish I could give you all the biggest hug. Even so, I have to highlight one person who was around at exactly the right time, in exactly the way that I needed. Two weeks after this event, four days ago, I got to spend time with my good friend Wyatt. I don’t hardly ever get the chance to hang out with Wyatt, the last time I saw him before this was in October, but I think of him as one of my best friends. And I think the reply he sent me when I finally got up the nerve to text him gives a pretty great example of why. I say “finally” because I honestly couldn’t get up the nerve to text him for those two weeks between the event and when we were able to get together. Oh, I thought about it. I thought quite a bit about it. But I just couldn’t bring myself to send the text. Why, you may ask? Suffice it to say that I have a bad habit of thinking too much. About everything. All the freaking time. It’s stressful.

Anyway, that, on top of the fact that I kept telling myself I was okay, is why I didn’t text my friend for such a long time. But, finally, last Friday I was telling my mom about how I really wanted to get together with Wyatt, and she had this novel idea. Why didn’t I just text him and ask if he could hang out sometime? And so, after almost two weeks of nearly thinking the idea into oblivion, I sent the text. “Hi, Wyatt!! I feel like this will be a long-shot, but I was wondering if you might be available to get together one of these weekends…” And then, guess what happened? Exactly one minute later, I got a response. “Hi! I would love to. (…) Actually, tomorrow is perfect, if you’re free.”

The next day being Saturday, I didn’t have anything going on, so it worked out well. But, that isn’t the point, really. The point is that, even though I texted him on a Friday evening, asking if he had room on his schedule sometime in the future, Wyatt was willing to spend quite a large part of his Saturday afternoon, the next day, hanging out and talking. And it was just because he had the time, and he knew that I’d been going through a hard time. So he showed up for me, holding a Starbucks coffee, and talked with me about everything from Disney movies to trauma to writing to systemic racism. And for the first time, while I was sitting there talking and connecting with this person, being inside my own house no longer felt scary.

And, hanging out with Wyatt that afternoon, I was reminded of something. Bright places don’t always have to be travelled to. Sometimes bright places open their door to you when your own door has a shadow cast over it. Sometimes bright places run up to you and want to play peekaboo. And sometimes bright places return your texts, open up their schedules, and show up for you with a coffee and a listening ear. More often than not, the people are really what make a place bright.

Bedlam Article 6: How I’m Finding My Voice

It’s a shocking thing to hear the words martyr complex at nine o’clock in the morning on the way to work with your mom. But, quite honestly, on this morning, they were exactly the words I needed to hear. I had just spent fifteen minutes speaking all the words I had kept locked away in the distant corners of my soul for so long I still can’t begin to put a date on them. When this broken, jumbled mess had completely escaped from me, I heard my mom say those two words, and that was all it took to bring order to the chaos inside my mind. But I know the story can’t end there. So now, I speak these words again. They must be spoken. I refuse to let these words keep me stuck in the dark any longer.

I have to begin by saying one thing: I love people. I really, truly do. I have always tried as hard as I could to be there for people whenever they need me. I’ve always listened when someone wanted to tell me about what was going on in their life, and tried to give them the best comfort I could. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been this way. I’ve been the encourager, the cheerleader, and the confidant. And, in all honesty, I do love being that.
However, somewhere in the listening, I lost my own voice. In the midst of my constant striving to be there in every way I can for everyone else, I set aside myself. I sit myself in a dark corner, and stay quiet. I make sure everyone else is cared for, listened to, and cheered on. I convince myself that I really don’t need to talk about what I feel and what I need, because to speak would take away from the time I need to listen. If being there for people means putting away my own needs, that’s okay. At least I’m there to help everyone else who needs me.

A few weeks ago, around the same time as the eye-opening conversation I had with my mom, a really lovely friend of mine tweeted these words to me: “You are a light in a world that finds it easier to stay in darkness.” While I truly appreciated her words, they presented me with a question. Where does this life leave me? In the process of being for others, did I leave any part of me for myself? The resounding “no” was like a punch to my stomach that simultaneously brought air to my lungs. For the first time I realized that, because of my desire to be for others, I had allowed myself to become stretched out, drained of almost all life, nearly invisible, and incapable of asking for help. And I saw that that is not how I, or anyone else, is supposed to live.

My parents and I listen to the Bible every morning. On one morning not too long ago, we were listening to the book of Mark. As I heard the voice through the phone speaker recite Mark 12:30-31, one of the most quoted passages in the entire Bible, the words suddenly popped out and embedded themselves into my mind. I had always heard these verse used in church to emphasize how important it is to love others. While that certainly is part of what this passage is saying, a new emphasis was put into these words for me. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (NLT, emphasis mine).

All day, I tried to wrap my brain around what I had just discovered. It had never occurred to me that it is explicitly stated in one of the greatest commandments, by Jesus himself, that I needed to love myself. But, if loving myself was so important, then why was it so hard? After thinking it through for a while, I think I know the answer to that.

I know who I am. I know everything I’ve done, said, and thought. I look at myself, and wonder how on God’s green Earth it could be possible for anyone, human or divine, to love this shattered, frayed thing that is me.

But, do you know what the crazy, amazing thing is? I’m not the only one who knows who I am. God knows. In fact, He knows better than anyone. He knew when he came down to Earth and allowed himself to be murdered to save me. He didn’t have a rose-colored, sugar coated, perfect image. He knew that I would let him down more times than anyone but he could count, and he still decided that I was worth loving.

He knows who I am; martyr complex, disability, and all, and he loves me enough to call me out of this dark corner. It is not where I belong. I will no longer sacrifice my own voice. I will own my story and speak. I will love people, but I will start with myself. I will never again give up the light that I need to live. I refuse to accept the darkness, for I am of the Light.

Bedlam Article 5: Don’t Be Afraid of Your Gift


Whoever you are, you probably have strong emotions attached to that title. It may sound a bit like Anna, excitedly and persistently singing, “DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?”. Or it may be more like a fed up Elsa, screaming, “LET IT GO!” Personally, I tend to lean more toward the first response. I think Frozen is a great movie, with incredible themes about the power of selfless love (mostly of the unromantic kind), and the importance of being who you are. It also has a pretty great soundtrack. Trust me, when you have two three-year-old nieces who will listen to nothing else, you learn to appreciate it, for your own sanity.

However you feel about this movie, there is one point that I believe needs to be brought up about it. Let’s begin by taking a look at a pivotal moment in this story; a conversation between a wise old troll named Grand Pabbie, and Elsa and Anna’s father, the king of Arendelle.

Grand Pabbie: “Listen to me, Elsa. Your power will only grow. There is beauty in it, but also great danger. You must learn to control it. Fear will be your enemy.”
Yes. Okay. This is good.
The King: “No. We’ll protect her. She can learn to control it, I’m sure…”
Alright. That’s still fine.
The King (continued): ”…but, until then, we’ll lock the gates. We’ll reduce the staff. We will limit her contact with people and keep her powers hidden from everyone, including Anna.”
Wait, what? What just happened here? No, this is not okay.

So, your child has just been told that she must learn to control the beautiful but dangerous power inside her, and that fear is her enemy. She’s pretty freaked out by the whole thing, of course. So, what do you do? You fire all the staff, close all the doors, and keep this child isolated. You teach her to live in fear of her emotions, because if she lets herself feel, God only knows what could possibly happen. The only way to make sure she doesn’t hurt anyone is to keep her alone, right?

But, as we see in the movie, this approach only accomplished one thing: it made Elsa afraid of the gift she had. It made her afraid of other people, who she might hurt if she let herself get close to them. But, worst of all, it made her afraid of herself, because what was inside of her couldn’t be understood or controlled, and was therefore something that was dark and terrible.

It was only through Anna’s unwavering love for her sister that Elsa finally understood how to control her power. Unlike their parents, who isolated and feared Elsa, Anna relentlessly pursued her sister. She continued to choose to love all that her sister was, because she saw the beauty in Elsa’s gift, when all everyone else saw was danger. She didn’t understand what her sister was going through, but she still tried as hard as she could to stay with Elsa and help her see that she didn’t have to fear who she was.

Aside from all the catchy songs and dramatic lines, this story has taught me two things. First is this: if someone is afraid and ashamed of who they are, don’t let them stay there. Choose to be the person who, like Anna, sees the beauty when all others see is a dangerous mess. Choose to stay with them, and show them that who they are is not something to fear and hold down. It is something to value and be proud of. Show them that their story and their scars are worth showing. Show them that, as one of my favorite humans, Melissa Hawks, says, “love redeems story”.

Secondly, that you and I can, and must, choose ourselves. I know that it’s not easy, and there are times when it feels impossible, but it has to be done. If we cannot make the choice to be for ourselves, as Elsa did, we will always see our stories and scars as things that must be hidden away, out of sight. But that is not where our stories belong. They do not belong in the shadows, they belong in the light.

Romans 12:9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (NLT)” I think that Frozen gives an incredible illustration of this. Though Elsa’s parents did what they told themselves was the really loving solution, what they were ultimately motivated by was not love. It was fear. It was Anna, who ignored the warnings of the people to stay away from Elsa, because they feared who she was, who was truly acting out of love for her sister. Anna understood what no one else seemed to. In the words of Olaf, the snowman, who is quite possibly the best character in the whole movie: “An act of love will thaw a frozen heart.”

Ultimately, that is what I learned from this movie. That is what I hope that we can put into practice in our own lives. Love thaws, my friends. So let’s really love others. Let’s be there for people, and choose to see the amazing in them. And let’s make the hard, but vital choice to see the amazing in ourselves. Now, who wants to build a snowman?

Bedlam Article 4: A God Who Is a Fighter

When you think of God, what comes to your mind? What words and images do you see? Perhaps you see Him as a shepherd, gently and quietly guiding His sheep along the pasture. You may see Him as a counselor, whispering words of guidance in moments of uncertainty. You may even see Him as a friend, comforting you when you’re down, and celebrating with you when you’re happy.

Let me ask you this, though: What about Jesus, who argued tirelessly with the people who thought they knew what was right, because He wanted so badly for them to truly understand? What about Jesus, who loves His church so much that the relationship is likened to the relationship between a man and the one he desperately loves? What about Jesus, who wept drops of blood in the garden, but went willingly to His gruesome death, because He knew that it was the only way to be reunited with us forever?

As someone who has grown up in the middle of white Christian church culture, I’ve noticed that we generally like to focus on the image of God that I described in the beginning. We like the idea of a God who guides gently, and counsels quietly, with an emphasis on quietly and gently. The moment anyone mentions the possibility that, just maybe, God really isn’t the soft-spoken guy we paint Him as, we shake our heads and peg that person as radical. Well, sure, we know Jesus did flip a few tables in the temple, argue with the religious scholars for a few verses, and willingly die to save the human race, but let’s not put too much weight on that. We’d rather talk about something else. Something that makes Him seem safer, less passionate, less personal, less (dare I say it?) human. And yet, this image of God that our culture seems to prefer is the furthest thing from safe. He is distant, and though He cares about His people, He is too feeble to truly fight for them.

As I said earlier, I’ve grown up in white Christian culture. As a result, I’ve learned all about this “safe” image of Jesus. I’m also a person who has been disabled my whole life. For the first years of my life, when I was mostly oblivious that my disability would really affect my life, this image worked for me. I was okay with a God who was there when I needed comfort, but didn’t speak up unless and until I asked Him to. I wasn’t aware that I really needed a God who would speak up and fight for me, because I didn’t know I needed to fight.

And then, kids at school started to feel obligated to point out that I was different, as did people almost anywhere I went. Along with that, all the many health issues that are included in the package deal of my disability started rearing their ugly heads. The surgeries, medications, broken bones, and doctor lectures seemed to come spinning at me in an endless cycle with no escape hatch or hidden trap door. I was fighting to stop the chaotic storm that my life had become, but the wind and the waves that furiously rocked my boat paid no attention to my voice. If I had ever needed God to fight for me, it was then. There was only one problem. He wasn’t strong enough.

No, that wasn’t it. He was strong enough. It was my perception of Him, because of the image of Him that I had accepted, that was weak. Once I finally realized what the real issue was, I began to see that everything I read about God in the Bible was, in fact, pointing away from this soft-spoken, fragile image. I saw the God who created everything with His words, but took the time to create humans in His image. I saw the God who watched the people He loved separate themselves from Him over and over again, and never stopped making a way for them to come back. I saw the God who came down to earth, knowing that He was going to die, so that He could show the world how much He loved us. I saw the God who came back to life, defeating death, Hell, and the grave, so that we would have a way to be reunited with Him. I saw a God who was not gentle, quiet, or passive. He shouted reckless, unconditional love with everything He did, fighting to win the hearts that He willingly died to save.

The wind and the waves were crashing around them. Their boat tossed back and forth, threatening to throw them out into the raging waters. Jesus was with them, but He seemed to have no idea that they were all about to go down. He just lay there, asleep. Only when His disciples woke Him, asking if He even cared, did He silence the storm. I believe Jesus knew all along what was going on. He was just waiting for His disciples to call for Him. He wanted them to have faith that He was strong enough to save them.

So have faith, my dear friends. God is not weak. He is not standing quietly, watching indifferently in the distance as you struggle. “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there. If you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath” (Psalm 34:18, MSG).

Bedlam Article 3: We Are People Too: Recognizing the Humanity of People with Disabilities

His entire world had been turned inside out and upside down in the space of an hour. Men with special powers talk to him like he doesn’t know anything. And, to top it all off, this girl who says she’s a princess is asking him all about his lowly life. Finally, she has the nerve to insinuate that he is a slave. He quickly puts a stop to that nonsense, declaring, “I’m a person, and my name is Anakin!”

I’m a person, too. My name is Jordanne. As a person with a physical disability, I have been asked if I would like to be prayed for countless times, and I have viewed many movies and shows with able-bodied actors masquerading as people with disabilities. Nonetheless, there is one occurrence that’s even more common in my life. It isn’t as grand of a display, but it has come to have an even greater effect on my everyday life. Allow me to tell you a couple of stories, and you will understand.

I was wheeling through the grocery store with my mom. I was next to her, easily keeping up on the smooth tile floor. I don’t remember if we were talking, but, if we were, we immediately fell silent as an elderly woman with a cane deliberately approached us. She had tears in her eyes, and she shook her head slowly as her gaze shifted from my wheelchair to my legs. She didn’t once look me in the eye as she walked toward me. As soon as she was standing right in front of me, she leaned down close to my face, put her hand on my shoulder, and spoke slowly, enunciating every syllable to make sure I understood. “You are such an inspiration,” she nearly sobbed. “You are such a strong girl. If I were in your situation, I just don’t know how I would survive. I thought my life was hard, but then I saw you.”

He really came out of nowhere. At least, that’s how it felt. One minute I was sitting at a table during an event at my church, talking and laughing with my friend next to me. The next, I felt a gigantic hand on my shoulder. I turned my head, and was shocked to see the face of someone I had never met before, no further than two inches away from me. “Hey,” he said, in a voice that is not the voice a person should use talking to a human stranger, “you’re blocking the way. You really need to move.”

To be perfectly honest, it seems that people with disabilities are often relegated into two categories that are less than human. We are either seen as an inspiration for the able-bodied people in society, or a piece of furniture that gets in the way. But these conceptions of people with disabilities are not only unfair, they fail to recognize a basic truth.

While one of these options is certainly nicer than the other, to a point, both fail to realize this simple, but fundamental fact: people with disabilities are exactly that. We are people, and the fact that we are disabled does not change the truth of that. A person’s disability does not make them an idea to think about and take solace in, nor does it make them an inanimate object that can be moved at will. As Charlotte Brontë said in Jane Eyre, “I am no bird, and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.” I believe this is true of every person, but I think it can be said specifically for disabled people, who do appear to be ensnared. Regardless of our amount of physical limitation, we are still as free and independent as every other person.

Let me tell you one last story, this one about someone who seemed to know this truth better than nearly anyone I have met before. I went to a fundraising event for the nonprofit organization that my mom directs. I followed her around for most of the evening, talking to all the people she introduced me to. For the easily entertained extrovert in me, it was immensely exciting. I got the same reaction from these strangers as I always did, but, with a minimal amount of effort, I overlooked that. Then, I was introduced to someone who, quite honestly, helped me realize the truth I shared earlier. He was introduced to me as Dr. Bethel.

As soon as we began talking, he did not lean closer and speak slowly, nor did he invade my space bubble in any way. What he did do was kneel, so he could be on my level and look me straight in the eye as he spoke to me. He talked to me as if he thoroughly understood that he was talking to a thinking, feeling human being who should be treated accordingly.

I’ve only gotten the chance to speak with Dr. Bethel a couple times since meeting him, but, as Maya Angelou once wrote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I believe that this, too, is an absolutely true statement. Why? Because I’ve had many encounters like the ones I’ve described here, but I remember the particulars of only a few. However, I won’t ever forget how each of these encounters with Dr. Bethel made me feel. Conversely, I’ll never forget how the people in these other interactions made me feel as well, but for different reasons.

As a disabled person, I believe it’s time we put an end to these misconceptions about people with disabilities. We are not here to be an inspiration to the more fortunate individuals in society. We are most definitely not here to be furniture that gets in the way. We are here for the same reason as every other person. We are here to live as well as we possibly can, as we were created to live.

Bedlam Article 2: Modern Discrimination in Hollywood


As the cameras focus on the scene in front of them, the actor carefully transforms himself to become his character. Restricted as he is from delivering the same presence that he is used to, he speaks his lines with great feeling and conviction. As the last words are spoken, he gazes into the camera mournfully, one final time. The screen fades to black. A relieved smile replaces the mournful gaze. Standing tall, he shakes off the weight of the disability he had staged so impeccably, and walks away, glad that he doesn’t have to be confined to the wheelchair any longer.

It is not a secret that most actors and actresses in the movie or television industries that are portrayed as being disabled do not have a disability in real life. There have been very many disabled characters whose parts have been acted by able-bodied actors. Consider the following list:

  • Professor Xavier, X-Men, played by Patrick Stewart
  • Jake Sully, Avatar, played by Sam Worthington
  • Artie Abrams, Glee, played by Kevin McHale
  • Henry F. Potter, It’s A Wonderful Life, played by Lionel Barrymore
  • Raymond Babbitt, Rainman, played by Dustin Hoffman
  • Luke Martin, Coming Home, played by Jon Voigt
  • Sam Dawson, I Am Sam, played by Sean Penn
  • Christy Brown, My Left Foot, played by Daniel Day Lewis
  • Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July, played by Tom Cruise
  • Justin Yoder, Miracle in Lane 2, played by Frankie Muniz
  • Jerome Eugene Morrow, Gattaca, played by Jude Law
  • John Locke, Lost, played by Terry O’Quinn
  • Stevie Kenarban, Malcolm in the Middle, played by Craig Lamar Traylor
  • Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars, played by Shailene Woodley

Before I go any further, please understand that I am in no way doubting the ability of able-bodied actors to perform these roles extremely well. However, this common occurrence does strike me as incredibly unfair. There are people who could portray these characters who really do have a disability and could perform amazingly. But the movie and television industries operate under the belief that having someone who is not disabled play someone who is will be a challenge for that actor. They have to perform at the same time as pretending to have a disability, which is very difficult. And we wouldn’t want to take away an actor’s chance to choose to play a disabled character, if he wanted to. That wouldn’t be fair.

This is quite a compelling argument. Actors should be able to play any part they want. They should have the right to choose to play any characters they would like. That would be fair. That would be equal. That would be right. Right? To answer that question, let’s look at this from the other side. Even if a disabled actor wanted to, he simply could not play an able-bodied character. No amount of “it’s only fair” would allow that to happen. So, if disabled actors cannot play any part they want, is it really fair to say an able-bodied actor can play any disabled character he wants? Is that fair? Is that equal? Is that right? I don’t think so.

In an age when we have become increasingly concerned about equal rights, we have made great strides in the fight for equality. Gone are the days when it was acceptable for a white man to play a person of color. Gone are the days when a woman was expected to follow the image of June Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver and only stay in the home and raise children. In general, society has championed the cause of equal access to people with disabilities in all areas of public life. However, despite all the progress made, disabled actors are still being discriminated against in the film and television industries.

Unfortunately, quite often these industries just won’t put in the effort needed to find and cast disabled actors. The usual response on the part of the producers is that they did try to cast disabled actors, but none of them were good enough for the part, so they went with someone more qualified for the job. This response should reveal a vicious cycle. If disabled young people don’t have a role model in performers with disabilities, they will get a message that they will never make it in Hollywood, so why even try? Why bother pursuing their dream, when they will not be accepted?

This point should bring about an even deeper discussion. Why aren’t legitimately disabled people being cast as disabled characters? After all, it would be more accurate, and it would bring an added dimension to the character that only someone who is truly living with a disability could bring. I believe the answer lies in Hollywood’s obsession with perfection. They are constantly looking for people with perfect bodies to cast in their movies and shows. Even as characters with disabilities, they must not have any imperfection outside of that disability. And the sad reality is that disabled people do not fit in the mold of what the industry is looking for. The message that comes across is clear: If you are really disabled, you are not good enough. You are imperfect, and so there is no place for you here. You cannot be allowed to be seen.

The movie and TV industries need to realize that casting able-bodied actors in disabled roles is not right. It may be easier. It may save them from having to go out and find people who do not conform to their image of perfection. But that does not make it okay. That does not change the fact that, at the core, this practice is unfair and demeaning to disabled people. People with disabilities do not need people acting like them. They do not need someone who sets impossible standards for their appearance. And they most certainly do not need to be given the message that they are not good enough to even be visible. What they need are people who will stand with them, not over them. People who will say that enough is enough. People who will speak out the truth that people with disabilities are worthy of the same opportunities as able-bodied people. What they need are allies, not just charitable benefactors.

Bedlam Article 1: In The Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Rise Up and Walk

A look of expectant hope, immediately followed by a flicker of confused frustration. After seventeen years of being in a wheelchair, I’ve seen those looks on peoples faces many, many times before. It has become almost like clockwork: a truly well-meaning Christian, usually a friend or acquaintance, sometimes a stranger, will approach me and ask if they can pray for my healing. It’s clear by the excitement in their eyes that they just know it will work. So they pray. They pray, and they pray. And then…nothing happens. I have come through every one of those prayers totally unchanged, physically.

When it is made evident that nothing has taken place on a physical level, no jumping or dancing on my part, this person’s demeanor changes completely, if only for a moment. They failed. They thought they knew that God would do something amazing, but, from all appearances, He didn’t. When I see the person’s face fall, I honestly feel bad for them. They had been expecting a life-changing event to occur. They knew, and I knew, that God was more than capable of that.

While I am confident, now, that God wasn’t just ignoring my cries to be physically whole, there was a time when I felt disappointed and neglected after every one of these prayers. There I was, literally crying out to Him day after day, and nothing was getting better. If anything, things were getting worse. I was getting sick more often. I just could not understand. I wanted so badly to be healed.

I wanted it so desperately, in fact, that I failed to notice that something else was happening.

It was on an evening in the spring of 2012 that I finally figured it out. I had been attending, by all other accounts, a normal community youth service. We sang songs, we heard a message, we had a prayer time at the end. That night, I went up to pray, but I didn’t expect much. I prayed the same thing I had prayed hundreds of times before. Just as I suspected, nothing happened. Except, that wasn’t true.

At the beginning of that prayer I was tired, I was frustrated, and, quite honestly, I was ready to give up. After the prayer, I felt alive. I felt refreshed. I had a new desire to want to fight this battle I called life. While nothing happened to me on the outside, my heart was changed by that prayer. As I was thinking over what I had just experienced, I was smacked upside the head with the realization that this was not the first time I had felt this. In fact, every time I cried to God for healing, He gave it to me. But the healing He gave wasn’t what I had expected, so I never recognized it. Rather than healing my legs, He healed my soul.

There are just a couple more things I’d like to say before I go:

To the ones continually asking and seeking my physical healing: Thank you, truly. You are a huge blessing in my life, even if I never knew you personally. Please understand, I am not asking you to give up, nor am I ungrateful for your pleas on my behalf. All I am saying is this: your prayer did not go unnoticed. God heard. He answered. You really did make a difference, in a far deeper way than you realize.

To the ones struggling with a disability, physical or otherwise: You can do this. You can live this life, regardless of wether you are healed or not, because God is always with you. You are not alone. And if you have prayed for healing, but haven’t seemed to receive it, don’t give up. Keep asking. And know that, even if you are not answered in the way you expect, you will be answered.

The Universal Injustice, a poem


Looking through my computer yesterday, I came across this poem. I wrote it a while ago as part of an English assignment. I hope you enjoy it!

The Universal Injustice, by Jordanne Babcock

I hear their silent voices
Screaming out for hope
Women and their children
Taken from their home
Wondering where
Wondering when

Having no answers
Only questions
And when they know
What will become of their life
Or what once was their life
They wish that they had never wondered

I hear her wordless mourning
Crying out for help
A woman and her body
Seeing no way out
Wondering where
Wondering when

Having no answers
Only questions
And when she knows
What will become of her life
Or what once was her life
She wishes that she had never wondered

I hear it all
It is the same
Screaming mourning cry
Of the woman or the child
In the call house or the streets
Wondering where
Wondering when

Having no answers
Only questions
And when they know
What will become of their life
Or what once was their life
They wish that they had never wondered.

When Human Moments Feel Like Mess Ups


I went to see my favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins, live, as a birthday present four years ago. I went up to meet him after the show and get his autograph. During the show, I’d noticed he has a tattoo on his forearm, and I told myself to remember to ask about it, because I was curious. But I was nervous, so I forgot. My parents and I were last in line. I got his autograph, said thank you, and was about to leave. But then I suddenly remembered I was going to ask about the tattoo. So, I ran back over to him and blurted, “TIM!…..I mean, Mr. Hawkins! Can I ask about your tattoo?”

My favorite musician, Cutter Gage, came to lead worship at my church last year. I went with my parents to pick him up at the airport. Waiting in the parking lot, I had nothing to do but overthink what I was going to say when I met him. Finally, he came through the front doors, and every plan I had got scattered in my brain. He sat in the front passenger seat of the car, looked back at me and said, “Hi! It’s nice to finally meet you.”
And how did I respond back? “Yeah.”

I’ve had so many moments in my life when I’ve felt like I completely messed up a situation with my awkward nervousness/excitedness. Whenever I look back on them, I can’t help cringing and thinking “That was just ridiculous. I should’ve done better. I should’ve…” The list of things I, in retrospect, obviously should have done is endless. And I can do nothing about it but think. That’s all.

These, and several other moments in my life, seem to be permanently filed away in my “things I messed up” file. I can try to put a positive spin on them, but they seem to always go back to being the time I messed up. The time I had a chance, a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I blew it.

But lately I’ve been realizing, there is more to those moments than messing up. I was just too caught up in the thought that I blew it to see that.

I was so caught up in the mess up that I didn’t realize that I made Tim Hawkins, my favorite comedian, laugh because of my excitement.

I was so caught up in the mess up that I forgot that, at church the next day, I was able to talk to my favorite musician normally. (Well, okay, I was still starstruck. But I did do better.)

Now, on this New Years Eve, I can look back on those and other moments in my life, and say I didn’t mess up. I was just being human.