Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stopping Offenses

It's really easy for me to be offended. I haven't had too many experiences where people were being malicious on purpose or did this horrible, public thing to me. The majority of the offenses were little things. Some little comment or some brief action that I took the wrong way. Things, that if I describe them on here, would seem really trivial. You might read them and think, "That's a weird thing to get upset about."  But, I did.

So, here's a short list of really small, insignificant situations that made me slightly upset or angry and offended:
-A person who told me Jaycee could walk if she wanted to. She just had "first child syndrome." She was only 14 months old at the time, which is typically NOT when kids with Down syndrome walk.

-The person who told me that Jaycee had a behavior problem because she was taking her bi-pap off in the middle of a night. (Uh...Do you call a 4 year old who is non-verbal taking off an uncomfortable mask in their sleep a behavior issue?)

-When Jaycee was under 18 months old, she didn't understand much. She didn't understand "no" or really any type of direction. I was well aware of her language abilities, since I am a speech-language pathologist. A report prepared by a professional evaluating her skills stated, "Jaycee was stubborn and would not stack the blocks." Well, she wasn't stubborn. She just didn't have the skills to do it or understand the direction. I could have done without the stubborn part in an official report.

-Jaycee loves babies, so she went to see a six month old baby sitting in her infant carrier. Jaycee slightly touched the baby's face. The mom told Jaycee not to do that. I followed her lead and told her no too. The mom frantically unbuckled the baby and held her so that Jaycee could no longer touch her. Then she sort of turned away from us. All of this took place in less than a minute. Was it because the mom was a germ freak? Did she think Jaycee was gross? I have never figured out her reaction, after all we weren't complete strangers.

-Then there was the wonderful ENT who brought up the possibility of Jaycee needing a tracheostomy with a matter-of-fact type of delivery. The new information felt like a punch to my stomach. When I acted surprise and pressed for more information, he said, "Well, Jaycee is pretty disabled. She doesn't even talk." I didn't know that being nonverbal meant you were going to have a tracheostomy, and I'm a speech-language pathologist. This is one of the few doctor's appointments where I ran for a bathroom afterwards so I could cry. (By the way, she doesn't have a tracheostomy.)

These were moments, as small as they may seem, when I found myself being offended. Lately, when I read the Bible and see scriptures about love and forgiveness, I realize that I'm not walking in that when I allow myself to be affected by these offenses. If I see a person who offended me and I brush them off or try to avoid them because of a past negative experience, then that's not the love and forgiveness that Jesus teaches. Now, I am definitely not seeking out people who aren't nice again and again, but it's not fair to write someone off for just one or two small, bad experiences.

I have to let these things go...never think of them again and never connect the person to the offense again. There's part of me that thinks that if I totally let these things go, then I'm saying that the person was right. But, it's not really about right and wrong. It's about moving on, forgiving people for what they said or did. Forgiving people for not understanding and not having compassion or wisdom. After all, I am far from perfect. I've said plenty of stupid things that I'm sure have offended people. And so, I'm starting the new year trying to have a clean slate and to clear these offenses.

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