People Say the Darndest Things

People Say the Darndest Things

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you.” – Psalm19:14

It always amazes me the things people say when they see me on my scooter, especially at a church function. “What happened?”  “I’m sorry you need that” and a personal favorite (NOT!), “I need one of those, can I borrow that?”…always followed by laughter. Recently at a church event, as I was opting to walk using my cane instead of the scooter, a gentleman (a minister, mind you) commented that it was nice to see me “upright.”  Admittedly, my first thought was something that should not be said in church but I settled for just saying, “Thank you.”

I understand that sometimes people want to show care and compassion but just don’t quite know what to say, so they may speak before really thinking it through. Disability tends to make people nervous. I’m not exactly sure why but I think it may go back to that “there but for the grace of God go I” thing.  Have you ever said that?  Have you really thought about it?  I admit that I have said it but now having been the person it’s been said about, I have a different perspective.

From my standpoint (and it is just my opinion), that speaker is saying that she/he is so privileged, so special, that they are blessed by God’s grace but the other person isn’t. Surely they must have done something ‘wrong’ to ‘deserve’ whatever it may be.  In today’s society we tend to think of and treat those who are differently abled as the other or less than.  And unfortunately our church membership can sometimes be the worst offenders. I have been to churches where I am totally ignored while those I am with are greeted with enthusiasm. I have also been to churches where I’m given too much attention such as being led down the center aisle to the front where it’s believed I’ll “be more comfortable.”  It’s as though my issue is my hearing instead of my mobility and making me walk further, in front of others, is going to fix that.

I challenge each of you, collectively and individually, to be mindful of those who enter your church, workplace or even home who may talk, walk, think, etc. differently than you. Talk to them as a person. Do not be stifled by worry of not being politically correct. Do not use words of judgement or pity. Just use words of compassion and kindness…words acceptable to God.

Prayer: Most Holy One, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you. Amen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Chapman is a UCC Disabilities Ministries Board Member and currently lead on the Advocacy and Education Committee. She is an editor for the SCNC e-news magazine and a member of her Association’s Church and Ministry Committee. Rachel lives in Southern California with her husband, Kevin.

People Say the Darndest Things is one of the devotionals written in honor of Disability Awareness Month 2017.