Have you ever been out grocery shopping and approached by a random stranger who walks down the aisle smiling at you and then reaches out a hand to touch you and says "God bless you"? Or have you been on a road trip and stopping at a rest stop to stretch your legs out and a stranger is suddenly relaying their sob story to you? Maybe you have been at playground with your kids (either in your town or not) and you suddenly realize that there are kids openly staring at your family but not saying anything?
If you have ever experienced this in your life then I would assume you were in the presence of a special needs person. If you haven't, which I assume most of you have never had this happen to you then might I welcome you to my life. My oldest child is a special needs child. When she was an infant we never had anything abnormal happen to us. Then somewhere around the age of two, people started making the distinction between my family and theirs.
Admittedly I used to hate the old ladies and random middle aged ladies that would approach me. (I rarely have men say anything) And let me just add it is ME not my husband they approach. I got tired of these people assuming it was okay to invade my space and bless me by their god that they believe in. Of course every single person that has ever offered up those words "God bless you" has probably assumed that I am a devoted christian woman who attends church every Sunday morning. I am not.
I did not realize that when my oldest was born that many people out there in the world assumed that I would suddenly find God and pray every day for some sort of miracle to help my baby. How many times have these same women that bless me offer me that saying about God gives us what we can handle. That's a very odd saying if you ask me. Somehow it implies that I am way more strong then you are and can handle these great burdens that I didn't ask for.
What it all comes down to is this, by their blessing me, these women then affirm for themselves there is a goodness in humanity. That they did not shy away from this family with a special needs child, that by imparting this blessing on these people then for that moment the world is okay. Sounds weird doesn't it?
Are these blessing women better then the kids that stop and openly stare? I'm not sure really. Being stared at is pretty disconcerting. Especially when the parents either don't notice or don't want to notice how rude their children are being.
I wish our society was more accepting in general of special needs people. There really isn't anything wrong or weird about special needs people. They just have to approach life a little differently then the rest of us. I know that the United States is actually more accepting in general then many other countries around the world. In other countries often times people with special needs are hidden away somewhere out of the public eye.
My request of you reader is this: instead of affirming humanity for yourself (like the people in my above essay) try and affirm humanity for the rest of your community or even the world. Stop focusing so much on making yourself okay and comfortable and spend your energy on others. This too me is how we actually accomplish a bigger a greater goal for all of human kind. Let's replace ME with YOU.
Now I am not saying that you should ignore yourself completely (that would be unhealthy!). Please though do think beyond your own nose. Are you doing something on the outside that looks like a good thing but is really only to help you feel better about yourself on the inside? Or are you trying to do something that really doesn't benefit you at all and yet does a whole lot of good for others?
(want to add your written word to this month's Spirit of the Poor? Click here to link up)