We parked the wheelchair in the back corner of the church. We always sit there. On this particular Sunday, Reese was especially chatty. Not in words, but in happy sounds. She seemed to be singing along with the choir or praying along with the pastor. We looked at each other and giggled. But one man, about 5 rows in front of us, didn’t find it so adorable. Every sound she made, he sharply turned his head to look at her. Mario got up to walk her out to the lobby, and I saw the man shake his head in disgust. Oh yes, he made sure I saw him. That was the point of his display.
I replayed the scene for a friend days later. She responded, “If only he’d known all you have been through.”
Yes, I thought. If only he had known everything we have been through to get to those happy chirps in the back corner of a church. If he had known the years of uncontrolled seizures, sometimes 25 a day, would he still shake his head? If he had known the years of unresponsiveness due to all of the seizure medications we used (unsuccessfully) to control those daily seizures, would he still stare? If he had known about the buckets of tears I have cried, the sleepless nights talking to God, the hours of research, would he still glare at her? If he had known the joy it brings us to finally see her smile, laugh her head off, attempt to communicate with us, and to enjoy a church service would he still have been so disgusted? I doubt it.
It made me think.
Days later, I sat at the stop light next to a woman holding a cardboard sign and this phrase popped into my mind…”If only I knew all that she has been through.” A few days later I received an upsetting phone call from an angry woman. It kinda blindsided me. After I brushed myself off, I thought, “I have no idea all that she has been through.” I realized I could apply this thinking to every human interaction.
Just a thought…but can you imagine how awesome the world would be if we all held each other with that kind of care and mercy? What if we always asked God to show us the “why” behind they way people think, feel and behave...and chirp in church. I know God will give us wisdom and a whole lot of mercy and love to spread around.
Thank you, Reese, for teaching me once again. The best teacher I ever had.