Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Can't Fit These Shoes

I have heard people say that "if you could walk in my shoes for one day" you would know how it feels. Quite honestly I get the idea behind the saying but I never say it. I try to imagine even the worst of people trying to live their lives like I live mine. I try to imagine them reconstructing their lives and deconstructing their dreams. I try to imagine them unable to play catch with their child or take a walk, or sit up in bed for days at a time. I try. I try to think what they would look like in an AFO brace or on a wheelchair or in a scooter or just propped up against anything that will hold their weight long enough for the vertigo and the loss of balance to pass. I decided that I do not know one person that I would wish that on. I don't know anyone that could fit these shoes.

People ask me all the time how I do it. How do I do what? Live? I do it the same way that you do, I just do it slower and with more intent and with more appreciation and with more compassion and without judgement on anyone that is different than me. See once you become disabled or unable you realize that you are now one of those people that gets the looks and the stares. So you stop looking and staring. Every moment is the moment that you want to hold onto. Every conversation is the one that you don't want to end. Every visit from a loved one is the visit you wish you could freeze. It may not even be all that enjoyable a conversation. But the thought that just maybe it may be your last one.......makes it worth freezing.

I watch people in the grocery store as they practice their impatience with the lady in the scooter who is trying to buy groceries. Do you think she chose to hold you up in line? Do you think it was her dream to get up this morning and have you wait, while she looked for her box of cereal. We have to be more compassionate to what we see people are going through. We only know what we see. I will admit. At first glance I may seem fine. However, once I start to walk or talk or move my hands that tremor tremendously you will soon realize that something is wrong. That is when we start to think "oh okay there may be something else going on here." I do not know any closet disabled people. I do not know anyone that tries to hide their disability. The main reason is because it has become a part of us and we can not hide what you can obviously see.

A Parkinson's disease patient was in line in front of me at Wal-Mart. There were four people between us. She was having the hardest time with her coupons and her money. Everyone! And I do mean everyone was complaining. But NOBODY tried to help her.She didn't want us to say "awww look at that poor little lady." She really didn't want us to help her but I realized that she needed help so I stepped up and I did just that. It took all of 4 minutes to assist a woman who needed assistance. We have to stop being in such a hurry all the time. We have to stop overlooking people that are different from us or only stopping to snicker and stare. What makes you think you could not be in that person's place one day? You exercise? You eat right? You give to charity? You love the Lord? Why are you not one of us!!!!? You do not know why. Some will say by luck, some will say by God's favor, some will even blame the disabled for being disabled. But the truth is you are not disabled because you just are not. Which means you could one day be.

So for me to wish we could switch places, For us to say "you need to walk a day in my shoes." these are just sayings. Most of the time they are wasted sayings on people that could care less. The truth is maybe one day your luck, your favor, your time will run out. And those shoes you judge so quickly, that laziness you label so easily, that scooter that blocks your path and that handicap space you think we don't deserve will all belong to you. You will have made it into a very loving, accepting and understanding club.No longer looking in at us but watching them looking in at you.

I pray you never know what it feels like but if by chance you do end up in these shoes only then will you realize that it takes alot of character, strength, humility and resilience, to walk in our shoes. That is something you will only ever know when it's your turn to wear them.


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