On Monday, I was reading one of my favorite special needs blogs, Love That Max. Ellen (Max's mom and author of the blog) wrote a beautiful post on how Max, who has cerebral palsy, has changed her perspective on disabilities. Click here to read it - you'll be glad you did.
After reading her post, it made me stop and think for a while about how Lily Bird has changed my life.
For example, I no longer have episodes of road rage. If someone is driving less than stellar and cuts me off or drifts into my lane or stops while getting on the freeway, I really don't mind that much anymore. I could care less if someone honks at me or gives me the one-fingered salute. Not that it happens that often, mind you. But I just don't have the emotional energy it takes to get all fired up over something like a clueless driver who doesn't even make a blip on my radar.
I am more aware of food and it's impact on our bodies and health. When's the last time you read a food label? It's scary stuff, people.
But more than that, having Lily has made me so much more aware of and comfortable with an entire population of wonderful people I would never have met otherwise.
Don't get me wrong. I've always been the type of person who roots for the underdog. And I've tried to be the kind of person who's nice to those people others tend to avoid or make fun of. I'm not one to avoid or shy away from people different from myself.
At my local grocery store, there are two baggers who have some type of special needs.
I love it when they are bagging my groceries, especially the young man. His speech is a little hard to understand but it's worth the effort. He is one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet and I just want to hug his neck every time I see him. We've chatted from everything to how crowded the store is at back to school time versus holidays, to our Thanksgiving plans, to how much I wish he would just come home with me and unload my groceries because while I don't need help loading them in my car, I would love some help putting them in the pantry and fridge. Which he thinks is hilariously funny because even though I live close to the store and always volunteer to bring him right back, he always tells me HEB won't let him go home with customers.
It's interesting for me to watch other shoppers respond to him. Most of them are friendly. But it's obvious when someone is really uncomfortable and doesn't know what to say.
I would like to think that I would be one of the friendly people. But because of Lily, I'm completely at ease conversing with this fine young man.
But even when I'm not as comfortable, Lily has taught me that you still make the effort. In the end, it's just a person, created in the image of God and loved by Him. So I talk to someone in a wheelchair or with Down's Syndrome or whatever the case may be. I squat down. I make eye contact. I'm a toucher, so I usually find myself reaching for their hand or arm or knee, as long as they aren't uncomfortable with that.
And I talk to them. Just like I would to anyone else.
And I'm raising my big girls to do the same.
It's such a small thing but it makes such a big difference.
I have Lily to thank for that.
So yes, my life has been changed by autism.
But I'm praying that some of the changes in me have been for the better.
Now I want to know about you. What good has special needs brought about in your life? Talk to me...