It’s an ugly word. Either we’re dishing it out in unwanted bushels or we’re on the very uncomfortable receiving end. No matter where we are standing it isn’t a good place.
It is so easy to believe we know what is happening in a certain situation and therefore we have the right to comment or offer unsolicited advice.
You know what I mean. We’ve all heard someone criticize that woman in the grocery line who is holding a smart phone yet using food stamps — if she can afford a phone like that, she shouldn’t be leeching off of the government. Or the mom with ‘too many’ kids who should be ‘smart enough’ to understand how to use birth control — and how many daddies are there, anyway? What about the man at the church food bank who took his food and loaded it into the back of a shiny new Lincoln Navigator? As easy as it may be to cast aspersions in these situations, we know nothing about what brought any of these people to where they currently find themselves.
After church today we needed to do some shopping and return some items to the library, so Atticus suggested that I do the shopping with help from my teens while he took the borrowed DVDs back to the library. Upon entering the store and heading for a cart I realized I was very unstable on my feet. I was teetering precariously until I could hold onto the cart to stabilize myself. I saw that there were several motorized carts available and wondered if I should use one instead of walking. Artie said it was a good idea because falling would mean broken bones and a possible fracture or break in my neck. I considered it briefly, the decided against it.
You already know why.
Today I wasn’t willing to put up with the arched brows and the critical stares from people who don’t see an obvious disability. So I risked my safety for the peace of mind I had blending in with everyone else. My boys weren’t very happy with my choice, but they accepted it because I told them why I chose to walk. They know too well how it feels to be on the receiving end of unmerited criticism, so they quit giving me grief and let me do things my way.
Having a disability that is currently not visible has helped me have much more empathy for others. We need to remember to stay quiet until we’ve walked that mile in someone else’s shoes…and even then we need to open our mouths with only support and encouragement.