Last week, my family and I took a wonderful trip to Disney. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing the kindness that Disney shows to our special needs children, let me give you a brief picture. My son Sean, who has autism, loves Cinderella. All he kept telling us before we left for Disney was that he was going to say to Cinderella "May I have this dance?" He also was pretty adamant on dancing with her. As we are waiting for our turn to see Cinderella, which was a very short wait thanks to Disney's Guest Assistance pass that was given to Sean, Sean was so excited. He was literally bouncing off the walls, laughing, smiling...he couldn't wait. Then, he turned the corner and saw her. His eyes beamed. His smile took over the room. I secretly gave Cinderella's helpers a heads up that he was going to ask her to dance. They smiled and said "we can't wait." It was then Sean's turn. He walked over to Cinderella, grabbed her hands, smiled and said "May I have this dance?" She curtsied and said "You may." Then, they danced. Everyone in the room, including parents who were there to see there own children's faces light up, watched and smiled as Sean lived out his dream of dancing with Cinderella. Moms cried. Grandparents cried. Even Sean's twin brother got a little emotional as we watched Disney World make his dream come true.
In moments like these, it's very easy to have behavior that is pleasing to God. I smiled and thanked everyone for their support. My patience with my children as well as others in the park was so easy to have because I felt the support and at that time, autism didn't seem that hard.
Fast forward a couple days later. We are now at Epcot. The one attraction that Sean really had his heart on riding was Mission Space. Unfortunately, the ride was closed at the time. He ended up not being able to ride Mission Space because we had to hurry up and catch our bus or we would have had to wait another 2 hours for the next bus. At that time of the day, we were all done. Of course, this meant major meltdown in the world of autism. Please remember my child is now 9. He starts doing what we call his "fake" cry as we are walking. Keep in mind, on my son's shirt is a big name tag that says "Autism" along with his name and my cell phone number. Most people smiled or gave me a supportive look. However, I did have to meet that one person who made it all come crashing down and made this week's post really speak volumes to me.
As Sean is fake crying, a mom...yes, a mom...stops dead in her tracks, looks at my son and gets the most disgusting look on her face. She then proceeds to say very loudly, "Ew!" right in my son's face. In that moment I could do one out of two things. One is a behavior that is pleasing to God and the other is not. I chose to look at her, smile and say "Merry Christmas!" She still didn't get it and probably never will. However, I did. I knew that chasing her down, smacking her across the face and saying really mean things to her may have felt good in the moment but it is not the behavior that Christians need to have. People are watching us and learn from us as we smile during our moments that seem to be the hardest.
1 Peter 2:12 says... Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.
You see, she may not have learned anything from that moment but someone else around me did. She may not have seen how staring and saying things could really impact a person. However, I did. I know that I am more careful with how I look at others, say things about others and I try so hard not to judge. After all, we have no idea what crosses others are carrying.
I like to think that this mom had no clue that my son has autism. I like to think that to her he was acting like a typical 9 year old. Thinking like this helps me continue to take moments like these and try my hardest to as Jesus did when he suffered.
This suffering is all part of what God has called you to do. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps. He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds! Once you were wandering like lost sheep. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. - 1 Peter 2:21-25