Are You Missing Out?

The Most Interesting People On Earth

Are You Missing OUt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you were a fly on the wall at the grocery store while I was shopping, you would probably see me scan the check out isles for the shortest and fastest line to join. I’m usually in a hurry, trying to fit too many things into too small of a time. But this particular time, my hurry was halted by a missed interaction.

There were two good options for a fast checkout that day.  I choose the line on the right which placed me in line after a person with some visible special needs.

This man, I’ll call Ben, looked to be in his mid-thirties, though he was hunched over his grocery cart like an elderly man would do for support.  He also had trouble talking, like his mouth would not cooperate with his brain and he couldn’t form the words he wanted to say. It didn’t stop him from trying to communicate, though.

He stood in front of the half-sized ’10 items or less’ conveyer belt as he gestured for me to go ahead and put my things on the belt. I couldn’t take him up on his offer because his order hadn’t been rung up. It sat on the belt right where he wanted me to place my items.

“Thank you,” I said to him with a smile, “but I need to wait for your order to move up before I can put my things on the belt.”

He gestured again in his charming way, for me to put my things on the belt. Ben was very polite and gentlemanly, smiling and gesturing with a bow, as though he were a professional butler for a large castle in England.

“Thank you.” I say again. “After your order moves up, I will put my things on.”

Unsatisfied, Ben turns toward the conveyer belt which just started moving. It was finally his turn.

The man standing in line in front of Ben (who was a helper of some sort for him) noticed our conversation and said, “The lady said, “Thank You!” in sign language, and then he told him it was time to go.

They left before I could tell them that I also know sign.  I had no idea the man was hearing impaired!

I felt like I was cheated of a great opportunity. 

I had missed out. 

I had missed out on a chance to connect to someone who is especially interesting.  I wanted to call after them and explain that I know sign language and could I please say hello to Ben. But given the busy environment, crowds and noises, I decided against it.

My strong reaction of disappointment following this lost opportunity caught my attention. I had been thinking a lot about the value of life—all life, no matter how severely disabled or how marvelously gifted.  

Subtle hints (and sometimes not so subtle) of people with special needs being less valued than someone deemed a “productive member of society” permeate our culture, or communities, and sometimes, even our churches.

And it is a great loss. 

People with special needs have an extra dose of interesting mixed into them, but they rarely get spoken too.

They bring great joy to their families and friends, yet they rarely get to share that side of themselves to “outside people”.

 

They rarely get to have meaningful conversations with others, because they are overlooked. Or worse, avoided.

I guess I was so disappointed because to Ben and his helper? I was just like everyone else. And I don’t want to be like that. I failed to break through and let Ben know he was a person worthy of getting to know, and that he was especially interesting because he was made differently in the image of God. Because of this, he reveals different facets of God to everyone he interacts with. 

And.  I . Missed. Out.

We worry about missing so many opportunities—whether for our career, our hobby or interest, or for a trip, a party or event, or even for a sale at the store.

We hoard and gather as if we will never have that chance again.

We overload our schedules trying to do it all, something we can never accomplish so we set ourselves up to do everything poorly.

And all this time we spend hustling around trying to stuff too much into lives to avoid missing out, we actually do miss out on the one thing that really may go away—people. 

We miss out on relationships with each other because of our hurry and worry about missing “more important” opportunities.  We can't have it all. Opportunity costs something.

There is nothing more important than the people set before us.

Relationships are invaluable, precious gifts from God to us. Relationships are important to God—so much so, that He gave his son in order to have a relationship with you and me.

We are the joy that was set before Him at the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)

Coffee Time

(Your turn to share your story in the comments):

When was the last time you connected with a person with special needs?

What especially interesting things did you learn or notice while engaged with a person with special needs?

Do you tend to hurry through life trying to ride every opportunity and miss out on some important ones?

How do you view the value of those with special needs?

Exceeding Joy

Stevie has a very active bath time.  When he takes a bath, he likes to slide his little body from the back of the tub to the front as quickly as possible, and watch the water swish and flow like waves in the tub.

Did I mention he loves to keep the water running the entire time, too?  I am sure you can imagine that mess!

Water streams over the edges of the tub  like a powerfully driven waterfall, creating a mini ocean on the tile floor of the bathroom.

No place is dry, all the floor space has been touched by the overflowing bath water.

Sometimes the bath is Stevie's "happy place".  And when he's in his happy place, watch out!

He'll laugh and giggle but that does not even begin to express the depths of emotion he feels.  Because his little body can't contain all that joy all at once, he adds to the giggles with squeals while jumping up and down on his tippy toes, gaining unbelievable heights.

He flaps his arms with such intensity that I wonder if he will achieve taking flight!  He can jump extremely high when he's this happy (probably because his arms are helping him get air under his feet!).

It's like he's trying to release some of the excess emotion; trying to keep his skin from exploding from the build up.

Stevie just lets it all out, unrestrained.  

All the joy comes out one way or another, because he feels it, and he can't contain it all. With the lack of social awareness, he just let's it escape however it happens and doesn't worry about what people think.

Unrestrained joy. Like rays of sunshine on a clear day, beaming from it's core, not hindered by pollution or anything else.

You know how bright that would be?

Do we allow that amount of joy to be in us?  Or do we not experience it anymore, having found it necessary  to stifle the joy so we act "socially acceptable?"

I have heard that in biblical times people expressed grief and joy much more extravagantly than we do now. People tore their clothes in grief, or danced naked in the streets (somethings are probably better off not done!).

We have a God who has exceeding joy, exceeding and indescribable love for us.  He doesn't restrain his emotions. (Zephaniah 3:17).

We have a God who made us in his image.  So, I'm thinking Stevie has it right... He is not inhibited by social rules, he just is...

He impacts everyone he comes in contact with.  No matter what their mood prior to seeing him, they are smiling and laughing with him.

Maybe he is revealing a bit of Gods' exuberance toward us in his joyful ways and happy dances. What if we took note of that, and really understood the depths of love and passion God feels for us...maybe we would flap too?

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

 

This post was originally published on October 4, 2010 as "Like Rays of Sunshine of a Clear Day" on www.TreasuresInTheDust.com