My sister, our friend Monica, and I took the kids to Disneyland last week. Whenever we go, we always get a disability card for Marcus so that he can use his stroller in line. If the lines aren’t wide enough to fit a stroller, we can go through the exit and get on the rides as people get off. That way, we don’t have to hold him for a long period of time in the regular line.
We decided we wanted to ride Alice in Wonderland, so we went through the exit, since the stroller wouldn’t fit in the regular line. As we were walking in, a man in the regular line who was noticeably bothered by what we were doing said to me, “You’re in the exit.” To spare him the details of Marcus’ cerebellar vermis hypoplasia and hypotonia, and because I didn’t feel like telling him that I was pregnant and couldn’t hold a squirming 30+ pound almost 3 year-old for 20 minutes who had a tough time staying still in a long line, I simply smiled and responded, “Yes, I know we are in the exit line. We have a disability.”
Apparently, he either didn’t care for my response or didn’t believe me, because he then gave me an ugly, piercing scowl, as if to punish me for doing something egregiously horrible and offensive. Perhaps he thought we were faking a disability so we could “cut” in line. I wondered if he would have been kinder if Marcus had more visible signs of disability. Whatever his reasons were, I was angry. My sister and Monica didn’t know at the time, but this is what I was thinking towards the Disneyland Man. Had I been taken over by my anger, and had my kids not been there to see me, I have would said:
“Sir, I’m sorry that my son’s disability is inconveniencing you, but do you think I WANT to be in the disability line? If my son could walk and stand in line, don’t you think it would be my joy to stand in the regular line waiting just like you? You don’t know how hard it is seeing that my son can’t do what yours can, so you have no right to hate me. Next time, keep your words and ugly grimaces to yourself and just be thankful that you get to stand in the regular line. And if you need a bigger reminder, meet me in the parking lot at Daisy 3G after you have a grand old time in the Happiest Place on Earth with your healthy kids. I’ll gladly give you a bloody nose and a life-long disability of your own to worry about so that NEXT time, YOU can go through the exit!!!”
*** I know I’m a petite, wimpy, Asian girl, but if you mess with Mother Bear and her family (on a non grace-filled day), you’d better be ready for a UFC showdown.***
At school, at church, and in our neighborhood, Marcus has true rock star status. But when I take Marcus out in the regular world, I feel completely vulnerable. At the store, the library, the doctor’s office, the park, I wonder where our family fits in and I wonder if Marcus is accepted in spite of his differences. To me, Disneyland Man symbolized the most hostile parts of this world. The world that says “You don’t belong. You are an inconvenience. You are weird. You are not like everyone else, so we don’t like you.”
I thought about my heart’s ungracious and angry response to this man and pictured how I would be in the future, when people even more hateful would cross our path. I wondered how I would react to the bullies and mean kids at school who would make fun of Marcus and even be mean to Audrey because of her brother. I was scared that I would be the kind of mom that would stalk those kids and show up to school with brass knuckles and ninja stars to let them know that “No one messes with my kids!!!”
That glimpse into the future scared me. Oh, how I want the grace of Christ to take over my heart and enable me to show grace to the ungracious! I want to encourage my husband and show my kids that with the Holy Spirit, it is possible to not fear the world, to entrust ourselves to our Father, and to extend love to those who revile us. But oh, how my heart, left to itself, rages against my enemies!
I thought about Disneyland Man for days after and the experience weighed upon my heart, stirring many raw and violent emotions. I dwelt on my anger and even reveled in it. But by God’s most tender and undeserved grace, He called me to remember the One who was the most misunderstood, the most hated, the most reviled man to walk this earth. It was none other than the Creator Himself. He stooped down to endure the greatest rejection from the world He formed with just His words.
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted…
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
If my Lord was misunderstood and despised, what right do I have to be accepted by the world? Why am I afraid of being rejected by the world when Jesus endured the Ultimate Rejection (not only from the world, but from His Father) so that I don’t have to?
Remembering Christ in his meekness and sorrow softens my heart and allows me to rest under the cross. What a comfort that I have already been accepted and will be loved forever, no matter what this world thinks of me or my family. Thinking ahead on how the One who was once the world’s biggest loser will one day reign over all of creation, gives me hope. He will restore all things and we who are the world’s losers today, are also co-heirs with Him. I cannot wait.
Until then, I beg God to keep my heart melded with Christ’s on a day to day basis. I pray that when I meet Disneyland Man again, as well as all his cousins, brothers, and offspring, that my heart would remember Christ and rest secure in His full acceptance of me.