I saw him the moment we walked in the gym – an older man watching my son. When you have a kid with disabilities, it isn’t unusual for people to stare or watch them. My son, Joey, is often stared at – I typically feel we are the stage show of the waiting room.
The way I handle this depends on the day. Sometimes I engage them, other times I ignore it or if it’s really obnoxious, I might position myself between Joe and the stare-er. This day, I watched the man watching my son. “I worked with kids like these” he said.
Inwardly I cringed at the “like these” I smiled politely. With a knowing tone, he asked, “Does he go to ___?” (he named a local, adult day care program). Irritated by the assumption, I said, “No, he volunteers and has a snack machine business.”
The man looked shocked and didn’t quite know what to say so he switched gears “You’re a saint!” This happens to be one of my least favorite remarks.
• I’m not a saint
• the implication is I’d have to be a saint to live with Joe
A dozen comebacks came to mind. “I’m not a saint, trust me” I replied – to which he insisted, “No – you are a saint!”
I was offended and in that moment, there was something in me that wanted to strike a blow for Joe and people with disabilities everywhere. I wanted to educate him and put him in his place.
Thankfully, there was a pause (this doesn’t happen often). I realized the man was well intentioned. He was reaching out and wanting to connect with me. He was of a different generation; a generation where people with disabilities were hidden away and not spoken of.
I felt my insides relax and I smiled. “If you don’t believe I’m not a saint, just ask my husband – he’ll tell you.” The man laughed, Joe’s trainer came to get him and we moved on.
Grateful I didn’t shoot the man down.
Grateful for the pause that helped me reconsider my response.
Grateful that in my good intentions when I get things so wrong, God is loving, generous and forgiving with me. He doesn’t put me in my place. He gently leads and corrects me. He loves me and gives me grace.
If you have experienced God’s help, a lesson, miracle or struggle – won’t you consider sharing it on the Share Your Story page? Together, we can create a space for people to be encouraged and gain hope through stories of God’s faithfulness.
God gave you a story, I created a place to share it.
(Well actually my genius computer guy, Micah Murray did that)