I love camp. I enjoy riding my big trike around with the twins on their seats behind me, though each year the workout gets a bit harder! Annie and Audrey love it too. The lake breezes, the freedom of seeing what’s going around camp and especially zipping over to the camp meeting church services, or leaving in a hurry if need be. The other day I was riding our trike with the twins aboard on our way to the service. As we approached the Tabernacle, a gentleman commented, “nice ride!” As I dismounted I noticed he was standing holding the door open for us, so I commented back with a smile, “yep, for those who can’t ride!” To which he swiftly retorted, “or don’t want to”.
Ugh. A wave of heaviness swept over me and my throat tightened. I took a deep breath and courageously, in a calm but firm tone responded, “No…they… CAN’T.
Attempting to be gracious, I then continued with a brief explanation, and a forced smile, “They both have disabilities.” He kept standing there, holding the door, expressionless and almost angry looking, carefully eyeing my girls, who were now fully engaged in spinning in circles, iPads in hand and looking down, as they waited for me to gather up our things before entering the building. I told the man he didn’t have to wait for us, and with another bit of forced laughter, that, “we come with a lot of luggage”…I was trying to lighten the mood but he remained stone faced, almost stunned. We walked in past him, both Annie and Audrey of course not speaking, nor saying thank-you to the ‘gentleman’ because alas, they are non-verbal. I thanked him for holding the door. He walked in to his seat and sat down near the front. Funny, the hat he wore with the red letters ‘Jesus’ across the front seemed, well…you get the picture. Seriously?
I really don’t know whether he understood what had just transpired or if he was convicted at all, or angry that I confronted his careless remark or that my twins were so ill-mannered and obviously lazy. As if I would choose to cycle around on a 150lb bike with 2 passengers each weighing 115lbs! I like to stay fit but really?! Really. I think there are those whose world is just that small. I suppose it’s not an everyday sight but honestly, the judgement. Harsh and unthinking.
I was initially worried I had offended him but felt I had handled things well and I prayed that the Lord would take it from here. I pray the gentleman opens his heart and mind and thinks about what happened, about invisible disabilities and judgmental attitudes. I am not saying I have never done the same but my life’s situation has made me aware of such a tendency, that everyone has a story, and that grace wins every time. In any case, I am confident Annie and Audrey will continue to be used by the Holy Spirit to change the hearts and minds of all who are fortunate enough to encounter them…and for those who can’t see beyond what they think is going on, well, that’s up to Jesus.