Today, I feel so ashamed. I’m embarrassed, and my heart hurts thinking about what I did last night.
Yesterday evening I went to a concert with some friends. It was a Christian concert, and honestly, one of the best nights of my whole summer. There’s something truly incredible about worshiping our mighty and powerful God, with thousands of people in one gigantic room.
We had general admission seating, so we basically just picked a section and plopped in the row that had the most seats together.
Shortly after sitting down, I realized that we should have chosen different seats.
The kid sitting next to us got up and had to walk through the aisle four times before the first act of the show was even over. By the end of our four hours at that arena, he had walked through the aisle at least 10 times.
If you’ve been to any type of arena, you know that those seats are not made for walking through. In fact, it’s probably one of the most awkward things ever. Like when you have to get out of your aisle, or you have to stand up for someone else, you grab your bag or drink from the ground in front of you, twist your feet out like a ballerina, and no matter what, both parties are holding their breath—as if sucking everything in will make the experience any easier.
So this kid has been in and out, in and out, and finally I was getting annoyed.
The next time he stood up, without even thinking, I let out an “oh my gosh, again?!”
It wasn’t loud enough for him to hear it, but surely the people around me did.
We stood up, let the kid and someone who was with him pass, and then sat back down.
That’s when Jesus stepped in and gracefully, punched me in the face.
Upon hearing my selfish remark, my fiance leaned over to tell me that the 12-year-old who continued to get up and come back, was mentally challenged. He had overheard conversations among the group of people in the row with us.
My heart sunk. How awful am I to think that anyone was inconveniencing me, let alone someone who had no intention of causing trouble.
In that moment, I was a bully. Even if I hadn’t directly bullied anybody.
Special needs aside, how awful am I to mindlessly let words fly out of my mouth about anyone.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Last night I was convicted of doing just the opposite.
What if that kid wasn’t mentally challenged? What if he was just a 12-year-old kid? What if his mom had passed away that day—or even sometime this year? What if he was deaf, and the music was too loud for him, but he wanted to worship Jesus with everyone else?
What if we weren’t even talking about the 12-year-old kid. How often do you go to the grocery store and get stuck with the S-L-O-W-E-S-T cashier on the face of the planet? What if that woman retired 10 years ago, but when her husband passed away, she had to get a job using technology she doesn’t understand so she can pay her bills and survive?
Or how about the man ordering a sandwich in the line in front of you. What if the reason he’s taking forever to decide what he wants, is because he’s dyslexic and he can’t read the menu as well as you can? You wouldn’t know because you can’t see it. But if you could, would you treat him differently?
And how about that child in the grocery store who is literally throwing the tantrum of the century, and mom seems completely incapable of handling it? What if that child is on the autism spectrum? What if he doesn’t have any disability, and he’s just a child having an unfortunate meltdown at the store?
What if I had said something to that 12-year-old kid at the concert, and because of what he was dealing with, that I couldn’t see, he decided to kill himself last night?
Our words are so powerful, and sometimes we forget how foolishly we use them until it’s too late.
God taught me an incredibly simple, but super important lesson last night.
He reminded me that disabilities can be invisible.
I felt the punch even harder when I realized that I, myself have an invisible disability, and without the help of ADHD medication, it’s impossible for me to function like a mature adult.
God reminded me that there is not a single person on this planet that can inconvenience me.
The Lord did not create any human being with the purpose of being an inconvenience to other people. In fact, He created us all for just the opposite—to live in community with one another, and to lift each other up—not complain about how our brothers or sisters are inconveniencing OUR lives.
I was also reminded that no matter what the situation, whether that 12-year-old boy had a disability or not, we are called to be kind.
It shouldn’t have taken realizing that this kid had a disability, for me to keep my words from flying foolishly out of my mouth. The annoyance that I was feeling was not created by God. And I was not created to feel things like that toward people that I share this life with.
In the same way that Jesus reminded me to be kind to everyone, He reminded me that I am only shown the surface layer of what’s really going on in people’s lives. To me, that 12-year-old boy was invisibly disabled. I couldn’t see that there was something different about him. The truth is, I shouldn’t have to know that there’s something different about him for me to automatically be kind.
I have to wonder how often I don’t see the battles that someone is facing, but mindlessly allow my human-ness to judge them for the things I can see.
My prayer is that we can all walk through today, and everyday, reminded of the kindness that God calls us to, and unconditionally shows us on a daily basis. I hope we can all feel that punch in the face when we let the enemy influence our human-ness, and foolishly let our words and emotions fly.
Because it’s simple really—everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. So just be kind.