Take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.
Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
Perhaps you saw this article whip through your facebook feed this week? Emily Colson took her son to a movie, and her son panicked, and the crowd applauded as they left. The comments are full of heartache and pragmatism, sorrow and shoulder shrugs.
It’s a difficult story for many reasons. Maybe because I expect better of grown ups. Maybe because I fear the same happening to me. Maybe because I have been every character.
I have been the jeering crowd and I have been the obviously wounded. I have been the parent in agony and I have been the silent condemner. I have been them all except the One who sees perfection before performance and beauty from ashes.
The reality is, we all walk with scars.
Ry’s special needs are diagnosed but invisible. She has no syndrome that explains itself silently to questioning eyes during episodes. Lord knows, literally, that some things would be easier if it were more obvious. On good days, we are a beautiful family. On normal days, we are a beautiful family with a child who struggles to keep it together. On any day, “that child” could be any one of my three children- or all of them.
Do we need a label to warrant grace? To deserve kindness? To receive love?
I am weary of the line in the sand reading “special needs.”
If we sit in a movie theater, chances are we sit near a veteran who is trembling from the larger than life gun blasts exploding in the previews. But it’s dark and we can’t see him taking deep breaths.
If we sit in a movie theater, chances are Ry sits near a veteran who’s sitting near a single mom. She will spend the hours in the dark with tears streaming down her face when the on-screen love leaves because she, herself, walked away years ago but the hurt is still raw. It’s dark in there… and we can’t see her.
Near them, a man with a cane who needs extra time to sit down. Next to him, a child incapable of being an adult. And next to that child, an adult who has forgotten what it’s like to be a child. We observers see nothing until the cup overflows.
My special needs are invisible. So are yours. And, so are the person’s next to you.
Should you find yourself taking shelter in a crowd throwing stones, I beg you to still your hands. Bite your tongue. Close your eyes. Tomorrow, it will be you on display in an awkward moment and there may be no one to explain or willing to understand.
I am desperate to teach my children that there is not one person walking this earth without a hole in their heart. Every single one of us is aching to simply be loved. Some days, it’s glorious and full of sunshine and easy. Other days, it’s a battle to walk straight with the invisible weight of the world on your shoulders. But most days… MOST DAYS… you are basically fine.
Someone around you, near you, next to you… some one obviously or secretly or on a thin line in between the two… someone is not basically fine.
Do you see the signs? Invisible signs all around you read, identify, and explain:
My father left me.
I can’t do math.
I’m in a dangerous marriage.
My nerves are on fire.
My voice doesn’t work like yours.
I hate the way I look.
I’ve lost 4 children.
We can’t pay our bills.
Be you marked and obviously bruised or a quiet soldier, be kind. And if you cannot be of help, simply be quiet. And in that quiet, pray.
Pray to understand what it is to be loved by a crowd and then crucified by the same. Pray for healing of your own needs and to be a healer of others’. Pray for a raw heart and a gentle smile. Just pray.