It definitely wasn’t the first time, but it still made me mad. Maybe mad is too strong of a word, but I was frustrated and there was a hint of anger under the frustration.
My morning started extra early as I was running in a short race with a friend. She was pushing me in a jogger stroller and we have a lot of fun joining the crowd and being a part of the local Team Hoyt. This is how I run and finish races now. We practiced / trained a couple of weeks ago. The race isn’t really my story for today’s post, but it happened and then we went to the grocery store.
For once I wasn’t in my wheelchair. I had my walker. We didn’t have room to carry all my equipment since we needed the jogger first. So my plan was to walk around the grocery store and get my exercise after riding and sitting for the race.
I’m heading into the main part of the store, following my dad. A lady chases after my dad like he had dropped something. I look at her and say, “Yes?” meaning I could probably help her. She barely acknowledges me and keeps walking towards my dad.
“What’s her name?”
That’s how it usually begins because I can’t tell you how many times this has happened in my life.
We are often caught off guard or shocked into not knowing how to respond well until later. After the moment has passed.
My dad answered and she continued talking to him with her back to me, “The Lord wants me to pray for her.” He just shrugged and said something simple, like “Ok.” We were in the doorway and on a mission to buy food and go home after getting up super early.
I don’t mind someone praying for me, over me, sharing a word of blessing. I don’t mind pausing in the middle of the day for such a moment. But there is a part of the whole situation that bothers me.
First, she didn’t really “see” me. She saw my physical brokenness and wanted to pray for my legs to be healed. Sure, I could be physically healed one day, but I don’t know. That’s not my focus. Never has been. God doesn’t place that prayer on my heart, at least not yet.
Second, she didn’t carry on a conversation with me. She talked at me.
Third, she put me in a box labeled “other” and probably thought I was also mentally challenged. And that led her to ignore the whole person in front of her.
It’s not just this lady. She represents all strangers I’ve met who respond in similar ways. Sometimes they want to pray. Sometimes they just want to ask how old I am or remark that I’m so pretty, precious, etc.
They pop up in public places and approach my parents or “the adult” with me, and I want to yell (or kindly reply)…
Talk to me, people. See if I answer first. Wheelchair. Walker. Whatever I’m using to get around. Don’t automatically assume I’m mentally challenged.
Give me a chance before you add more layers of limitations.
Please be careful with your words and actions. I will, if you will. And let me pray for you. Share something with me rather than take away my sense of freedom to be “normal”. Because I might just lose it in public.