There is rarely, if ever, a point where getting pitied becomes easy. I could graciously put up with pity if the reason for the pity was temporary. But when I’m pitied because someone heard my story (and then misunderstood) from someone else… All I want to do is scream. Don’t pity me because of something I can’t fix. It becomes devastatingly hard for me to keep smiling.
There is nothing more infuriating than being resented because of something I can’t control. Resent me when (if ever) I disrespect you on a regular basis. Please attempt to refrain from resenting me when mentally I can’t understand you so you have to take extra time with me. That’s not my fault. It annoys me more than it does you, I promise.
A lot of precious people ask me why I make my half a brain, epilepsy and other disorders the brunt of my jokes. Very few understand that I jump at a chance to joke in order to possibly help other people skip over pitying me. If they’re laughing so hard at my quirkish jokes, they don’t have time to pity me… And there’s nothing to resent me for.
None of this has bothered me much until recently. Almost every disabled person, no matter what the bounds of their limitations, will tell you they dread starting over with new people. After 16 years with the same community, I forgot how embarrassing teaching a new crowd can be. In a moment of desperation this week, I begged God to explain to me why people resent, pity, and border-line fear me. The revelation shocked me but it also humbled me.
Pity comes from fear. Fear of having the same disability/situation happen to you, and realizing you couldn’t handle it. So therefore, the person with that disability must be pitied. If you couldn’t handle it, neither can they. Wrong. A lot (though by no means all) of disabled Christians will tell you they wouldn’t change their circumstances for the world. Don’t try and belittle it, don’t try and understand it. Just realize pitying that person is a slap in the face. To some disabled people, you’re pitying the very thing they treasure most about themselves.
Resentment, like with anything else, comes from the unknown. You don’t know why I’m holding you up, but it’s annoying. If you knew… Maybe patience would be your go-to attitude. If you knew, maybe you’d discover the joy of helping me laugh away the awkwardness, rather than watch me cry at the emotional pain. Everyone has a story that helps them make sense. Learn it.
All of this humbled me because I ran to my Abba God with the idea that I was the only one hurt. Though that was technically true this week, in a way only Jesus can, He put the shoe on the other foot. I’m resented for my mental delays, when have I resented someone because of their cultural differences? I’m pitied because of the obvious frustrations within my body… How many times have I forgotten what it’s like and done the same?
Half the time, our biggest issue is we don’t take the time to see people for who they are. We settle for drawing our conclusions of them from what they are. Disabled or socially acceptable. Because of that, we are equal in our brokenness, but when was the last time I took the time to see that?