“Not every disabled person uses a wheelchair. Not all disabilities are visible.” (www.fibroduckfoundation.com)
Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. Some are visible just by looking at a person while others are not. Some affect the physical body while others affect emotions, psyche, and reactions. Some are blatantly obvious while others are subtle but just as debilitating.
When I read the above quote, it really struck a chord with me. There are people that have to deal with unique challenges on a daily basis. I personally know many people who have physical illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome or autoimmune disorders that leave a person feeling exhausted, also known as the “the silent sufferers.”. Mental disabilities due to accidents or other major life-altering events affect others just as much, sometimes showing their injuries physically or else they are internal such as a traumatic brain injury. Lastly, there is a group of people who suffer emotionally due to trauma or abuse that has been heaped on them from someone else. Each and every one of these people have to work twice as hard to get through their work day, participate in recreational activities with their family and friends, or just survive a day filled with memories they would rather forget, wish they had memories to cherish, or dare to remember a time when life was easier. Every single one of these people suffer as a result of an external circumstance, not something they caused.
What about the other ailments that most don’t consider disabilities? Unresolved anger…bitterness…resentment…brokenness…depression…PTSD. Wouldn’t you define people who suffer from those emotions and relentlessly throw those feelings of rage onto others as disabled too?
In Matthew 7:1-2 it says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV)
Maybe extra compassion is needed the next time I encounter someone a little different from the norm: Someone who pauses a little longer to collect his thoughts before answering, a person who continuously declines invitations to get together claiming exhaustion, or the person who may always have a rude response, even to seemingly innocent questions. It could be that they’re victims of some disability that is not initially visible. Since I don’t know, I’m going to try giving the benefit of the doubt, some extra patience, and counter the sarcasm with a smile. Who knows…maybe it will be contagious.