Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Take a minute and think about how many "awareness" groups you've seen.  Go ahead, just see.

A quick stroll through Facebook will reveal any number of groups of folks... entire communities... of different abilities, states of mind, experiences, diseases, the list goes on.  Our culture has leaned toward those colorful magnetic ribbons, bumper stickers, as well as endless websites and Facebook pages and groups devoted to this, that, and the other.  The cynic in me is starting to take a second look at all this.

Don't get me wrong, I've greatly benefitted from the advice in some of these places.  Just seeing a snapshot of life in other families with autistic children, women who have lost a baby, have experienced postpartum depression, and have had trouble with one or more parents to name a few.  There have been very dark times in my life when few people were willing to jump in and help slog through the pain.

In others, I've found biting snark, divisive judgement, and other extreme words poisoning the waters.  You just never know.

I've been tempted to blame this on laziness, the ease of hiding behind a computer.  But I really think that would only tame a few of the offenders.  So I'd like to propose another awareness group.

I swear, I can almost hear your eyes roll.

We seem to have so often forgotten, even in especially in Christian circles, that we are human.  Fallible.  Imperfect.  Prone to fits of frustration, judgement, and bad decisions.  Just by complaining to you about the people who are ugly, I'm in a way being the same.  Judgmental.   I don't know what those people have been through or what they face on a daily basis.  The most hurtful posts I've read may have been written on the absolute worst day of that person's life.

In light of our shared predicament... you know, not knowing everything about anything... I'd like to propose we adopt human awareness.

Some of you already do.  I know that there are those of us who do the best we can, although it's always an imperfect attempt (see, I can't even do this exactly right) to remember that not one of us is better than the other, but maybe if we had our own little ribbon-magnets we'd remember easier.

Just think of the implications!

We could all do away with our particular ribbons if we'd just turn to each other and really listen after we ask, "How are you?"

And maybe, just maybe... we'd finally be comfortable answering truthfully when someone asks.

Maybe we would get to the place where we wouldn't have to explain so hard.

Maybe if we gave the benefit of the doubt more often, we wouldn't spend so much time and energy worrying about who doubts us and who we should maybe doubt.

And how incredible would it be if we knew each other's problems and issues from personal contact to the degree that we felt supported enough to not need to call attention to the need for understanding?

Unfortunately, I can't see my Autism Awareness sign coming down from my yard, vehicles, or front door anytime soon.  And I'll continue to see your awareness signs, realizing how little I know about you and your issues.  It's necessary.  And when it comes right down to it, it's where I'm comfortable... and I bet it's where you are too.

But we can dream, can't we?

Thanks be to God for the grace, mercy, and forgiveness we enjoy through Christ.

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