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Miles to Go—Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout Me…

whisper

By Marianne Miles

Do you know a family that is ‘perfect?’ The one with an immaculate house and yard, the wildly successful husband, the gorgeous wife, who organizes the storehouse of the Smithsonian in her spare time, and children who are valedictorians of their class. Yes, I know them, but trust me, they’re a myth. No matter how impressive a family seems, every stinkin’ one of us fall short of the glory of God.

So, let’s talk about you. That’s what you were afraid of, right?

As a parent of a special needs child, I often felt the eyes of other parents on me—and sometimes they were. I could imagine them whispering, “Why does she let him…”, “What’s wrong with…”, “When is she going to teach him…”, and more. I wanted to hand out fliers to people to explain the measures we were taking with Jon* and to explain that I have two other children who are appropriate when they talk, walk, play and go to school and church—more or less.

Because Jon’s disability did not include visible limitations, such as a wheel chair or special braces, people had no clue that his challenges in life were formidable. This made strangers and people we knew only as acquaintances quick to judge Jon as immature or worse.

However, probably the most difficult rejections came from people in the church. Once, a couple asked my husband and me over for coffee to talk. I don’t remember if they told us what they wanted to talk about. Their son was Jon’s closest friend; however only Jon had been entertained in their house, so we were delighted to receive an invitation.

We came without Jon, as they suggested. Their son was not in sight. Slowly, even gently, they explained that Jon was a bad influence on their son. That they didn’t appreciate Jon’s inappropriate behavior. We agreed!

No matter, they called us over; they said to tell us the truth, as good Christians should, that Jon was not welcome in their house. My husband turned white. I began to cry. “I don’t understand,” I told them. “I thought if we are brothers and sisters in Christ that we should work together when one of us has needs to solve our problems.” I was feeling abandoned.

The wife of the couple jumped up and ran to the bathroom to cry. The husband explained that regardless, Jon was no longer welcome in their home. Unfortunately, that was not the only incident of friends we have lost in the church. And one has to consider how valuable of a friend they were when they cannot stand by you in such dire times.

Another situation that can happen in a church is that people will talk about your more sensational troubles in the guise of a prayer concern. “I think we should pray for…” Well, I might be happy to have prayer under any circumstances, but it does hurt to think of the church staging your child as one of the three ring acts of the hour.

Another incident happened recently, that was full of drama, and a true friend asked me if I was afraid that people were talking about us. I thought about that for awhile and realized that I have grown way past that. “No,” I told her. “People may talk about you for a short while, but they usually are too wrapped up in their own lives to really camp on your state for long.” But I’ll always consider true prayer for my family as a blessing.” Yep, that kind of talking about me I’ll welcome.

Remember that perfect family that doesn’t exist? Sometimes I think that some people appear perfect to us because we can’t see past our own failings enough to see we’re all in need of God’s grace. So, let’s forget trying to live up to standards that hover way over our heads, ignore the voices of ignorant criticisms and pull together with true friends to pray and support each other.

*Our son Jon has a deformed kidney, dysfunctional bladder and ADD—which we were late in identifying. This harbored behavioral problems as well.

©2010 Marianne Miles. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

*Copyrighted back columns are available for reading in archives of Comfort Cafe. Contact Marianne for reprint availability.

Bio:
Marianne Miles is a free lance writer intent on bringing comfort to mom’s of special needs kids. As she and her husband raised their children, including a son with special needs, Marianne developed a passion to support hurting mothers. Her message revolves around the love and provision of God, even in times of trial. Marianne has worked as a volunteer in the public schools, home school mom, and a teacher in a private school. She writes on the subjects of family and education in the form of devotionals, magazine articles, and poetry. Marianne welcomes reader’s comments and publisher’s questions at Marianne_Miles@yahoo.com.