I understand Joel’s message all too well, not because I live a life of indifference towards others; instead, I have a daughter who has differences and she experiences the walls of indifference. The walls we build are quite “visible”, from the way I see it. Too often the walls are built out of fear or dislike. We allow the walls to grow big and tall to protect us from all the things we don’t understand or what we clearly object to.
The most obvious “visible wall” example I can share with you happened in Alyssa’s pre-school days. A beautiful little girl came running up to me and said “I am having a birthday party this weekend.” I said, “you are, how exciting!” She gasped, covered her mouth and said, “oops, I wasn’t supposed to tell you”. My heart plummeted into despair. The classroom etiquette was this; if you invite one student from the class, all students “should” be invited. This child was unfairly put in the middle of this situation. She accidently divulged the news of her celebration, which was clearly a celebration, which would not include Alyssa. I realize, the little girl was supposed to keep this a secret and was probably instructed to do so by her parent(s). It makes me sad, for the little girl, who had to learn, at such a young age, how to build a wall because her classmate was different from her. I fear our children grow up and those early walls become huge dams, permanent obstacles. How can we come together and stop looking at the outside and embrace the qualities on the inside?
If you look at Alyssa on the inside, (not at the obvious and apparent delays in her development on the outside) you will see Alyssa’s most valuable assets. Her heart is beating strong and she is full of love. She can give you a hug, which will melt your heart. Alyssa is a sweet and silly little girl, much like other children. She has a disability, but she is so much more than that too! At times, she will repeat herself, over and over, until I am able to say what she is “trying” to say. She wants to communicate, yet her mind gets in the way, causing her difficulty. Should we look at this difficulty and build a wall against it, or should we break the wall down and join together to help her? Who would she be without those individuals who embrace her? What would her future hold without relationships?
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Alyssa has been excluded from something. It just happens to be one of the times, we found out. I feel like, if I jump into the deepest part of my soul, I can see how someone wouldn’t want to invite Alyssa to their celebration because of their fears. I will even say, those fears may come out of someone thinking there is a chance, I may drop Alyssa off at a party and leave her. It makes me laugh because if I manifest these particular thoughts, I can almost envision her as a Godzilla tearing through the inviting family’s home causing mayhem and destruction. The truth is this; I would never drop her off. I would go with her and help her celebrate her friend’s special day! I would pray there would be no mayhem!!!
Today, I hope you will join me, by embracing differences. If we all take the time to break down the walls, there is a chance, we will gain from this on our insides. What we have blocked out and tried to steer clear from may actually be the best thing that ever happened to us. How would we ever know, unless we take that chance?
I need to follow this story up with some thanks. First and foremost, I would like to thank all the families who brought their kids to Alyssa’s first birthday party, which happened this past December, when Alyssa turned 7. I am incredibly thankful Alyssa has developed some friendships. I would like to thank every parent who has expressed an open heart towards my Alyssa and I admire what you are teaching your children. Even though my daughter has differences, she has something very special too. Thank you, for allowing “different”, to be “okay”.
The children who Alyssa has formed relationships with and the friends who continue to support us are absolutely a blessing!! You have brought encouragement to us and we couldn’t do it without you!! XO
Thank you for reading and have a great week. Angie