Shirlee's Story

  • Feb. 6, 2013
  • #8028

When you’re treated poorly it’s hard to be thankful, but Shirle — a woman with MS — makes the most of her experiences. Listen to Joni retell Shirlee’s humiliating experience at the DMV.

Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends."

Not long ago I received a letter from Nancy who lives in Colorado and who is a good friend of Shirlee who has multiple sclerosis. Shirlee is pretty much bedridden, and when she’s not in bed, she’s in her electric cart. Nancy tells me that Shirlee has assistance, but she pretty much manages on her own. Nancy writes, “Shirlee is 99% of the time cheerful, and 100% full of faith.”

Nancy was writing to tell me about a very embarrassing and challenging incident that she and Shirlee encountered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Nancy had taken Shirlee to the DMV so she could get a Colorado ID card — she had called ahead and carefully described Shirlee’s special needs, and tried to convey as best she could her friend’s limitations. Well, just getting to the DMV that morning, 35 miles away, was no easy effort: getting Shirlee ready, getting her electric cart in and out of the vehicle, maneuvering doors and stairs and elevators. Finally, they arrived at the DMV. When it was her turn, Shirlee answered all the questions related to securing an identification card, but then the clerk said that she’d have to have her photo taken — and she will have to raise herself up in the cart because the camera was no longer adjustable. But Shirlee explains that she can’t raise herself up; her arms are too weak. The clerk simply replied, “Well, then you’ll have to have someone lift you.”

In the meantime, the line behind her was getting longer. Shirlee felt awful that she was holding up so many people, all of whom had appointments and had hoped to do business and get back to work in reasonable time. She finally was able to get her van driver and some other people to physically lift her up to a suitable, albeit awkward, height in order to snap the photo. For Shirlee, with everyone looking on, it was pretty humiliating.

But this lady nevertheless keeps quite a great attitude; for her, these sorts of frustrations come with the territory of MS. But her friend Nancy is out to make certain other people with disabilities don’t have to go through the same thing. All it would take would be to “think through” the situation in advance when Shirlee made her first call: maybe it would take better equipment or a little commonsense or flexibility from the clerk and his supervisor or perhaps using a mobile camera. Whatever happens, I’m sure that this particular Department of Motor Vehicles picks this one apart in its upcoming staff and policy and procedure reviews.

Meanwhile, Shirlee, with her multiple sclerosis, is able to have a thankful heart in a world full of hurt. She has the ability to take a humiliating circumstance and allow God to foster humility in her heart — and that is pretty priceless. Well, friend, I’d like to send you a pamphlet I recently wrote called, “A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt.” In it I describe some of the critical steps we need to take to cultivate humility and gratitude, because a grateful spirit is — according to Romans chapter one — one of the most prized characteristics in a person. Time and again the Bible tells us to be thankful in all things and in Ephesians, it even says be thankful for everything. It’s a tall order, but Shirlee is accomplishing it and because of that, she’s an inspiration to us all. So, please, visit my radio page when we’re finished here and ask for your free copy of “A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt.” We’ll even send you a copy of it in Spanish for you to give to a friend or co-worker. It’s all there for you at

© Joni and Friends


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