The story of Saul of Tarsus was the only true depiction of conversion, of the contrasting alteration of extremes on a spectrum of change; all others following, including Augustine’s Confessions, are mere exaggerations in order to rise to the level of profound comparison between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. Such a generalization may be disputed, obviously; but isn’t it interesting how, in the tradition of that telling of the metamorphosis, so many religious leaders seem to feel that their own ‘personal story‘ of conversion needs to somehow compete with the original?
Thus, it is not enough to merely ‘have a conversion’; instead, one must have been the meanest, lowest, downtrodden ne’er-do-well who suddenly saw some figure or heard a voice and was struck by some unexplainable bolt of lightening, and it is in that tradition on the proverbial road to Damascus where the unparalleled universe of clashing phenomena must be described in greater details of incommensurate proportions which have seemingly competed for the attention of ages.
Why, instead, can it not be that a person simply reads The Good Book, mulls it over, and decides to change? Similarly, why must we always feel compelled to tell a ‘greater story’, as if the one that reflects reality is never enough to be persuasive in catching the attention of the reader?
In some cases, as in the one for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the proper understanding of the legal criteria must first be considered, before beginning the process of preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.
For, if the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, mistakenly believes that the legal criteria is identical to the one required to obtain Federal OWCP benefits (it is not) or of Social Security Disability benefits (clearly not the same), then the very approach in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS may well reflect that misunderstanding.
Like the Road to Damascus, the true telling by Saul of Tarsus in the conversion experience which resulted in the Apostle Paul, the Federal and Postal employee who must experience the bureaucratic nightmare of changing from a Federal or Postal employee into a Federal Disability Retirement annuitant must tell the proper story which persuades OPM of the validity and viability of one’s case.
But in the telling, one should make sure that the contrast and comparison embraced is not like that of all of the subsequent historical copycats which misunderstood the point of the telling, but rather, the sufficiency of the true life experience of the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.
For, in the end, one’s own personal story of challenge and triumph is the only one worth telling on that Road to Damascus, or in the case of the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, on the pathway to Washington, D.C., with a waylay to Boyers, Pennsylvania, and before that, through the Human Resource Department, and before that…
Robert R. McGill, Esquire