Do you usually think about how to open a door before you walk through it? When you’re at a coffee shop, do you think about how you’re going to grab your coffee, receipt, and change all at once? As the Lord’s Supper tray comes toward you at church, do you think about how you’re going to pass along the tray and somehow grab the tiny cups?
Most people are able to perform these “simple” tasks on autopilot, but I have to think ahead as I approach these tasks. If I don’t think ahead, people grow impatient as they wait on me. I become embarrassed by my inability to uphold the expectations of our fast-paced society.
Because of the effects of my syndrome, I often see “simple” tasks as incredibly difficult. I see impatience as degrading and alienating. I see perfectly non-disabled expectations as unreasonable and isolating. I can’t expect my hands to perform tasks like fully functioning hands. I’m obviously lacking certain skills and abilities, but I’ve learned to do the best I can do with what I have. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not good enough in fast-paced, “figure it yourself” situations. With that said, we ought to try to alleviate the unreasonable expectations our society endorses. How? We can choose patience over impatience. We can show kindness when we notice that someone is struggling with a task. We can be bold enough to ask how we can make life easier for someone who may need some accommodations.
If you ask to hear my perspective on life with a disabling disease/syndrome, I’ll tell you that our society isn’t always disabled-body friendly. Sometimes people look down upon those with disabilities because they’ve never thought about the struggle to open or go through doors, grab tiny objects, use swollen limbs, etc. My advice: let’s lift one another up by treating everyone with kindness and patience. We may not know what obstacles other people are facing, but we can always help one another out by treating each person as we want to be treated. Choose patience. Give grace. Love well.