Friday, January 30, 2015
The Window of Separation
I went to church early last Sunday. Nothing was really peculiar about that day: I left early, got some coffee, and drove out to the church without a hitch. My trip only became strange when I pulled into the parking lot and looked out my window: in the neighboring minivan sat a large, silky-coated Golden Retriever, its' eyes large and motionless. I was forced to do a double-take (more like a triple-take) to the car, for the animal sat so still that I wondered if it was just a taxidermy piece created in poor taste. His eyebrows moved as he looked to me, quiet and a bit sappy, while his scrawny body remained put.
My first thought was, Why on earth would somebody bring their dog to church? I'm sure they had their reasons, but whatever those reasons were, I couldn't manage to think of a sensible one. I wondered why the dog looked so solemn and skinny, why he was so quiet and accepting of isolation within a locked metal cocoon in a silent parking lot. Two-and-a-half hours later, I furiously asked myself why the car -- and the dog -- were still there.
I couldn't discern whether to be tearful or mortified, so I decided to be both. It ground my gears and jerked at my fragile heartstrings to see the poor pup still in the same spot, alone, almost abandoned, for well over two hours. Upon bursting back into the church, demanding to know who was responsible, an official at the church assured me that the dog was fine: dogs can live for more than a couple hours without food or water. Furthermore, the dog was in a dark car, bore a shaggy dark coat, and the temperature outside was easily over 30 degrees, so there wasn't much evidence to state that it could freeze to death.
The reassurance did little to calm me, since those hadn't been elements that had crossed my mind that day. What was truly ghastly to me was how happy this dog could possibly be. His expression was so emotionless and unfazed at my frantic concern, it occurred to me that this may be something normal to him, being cooped up without anyone by his side. It worried me, thinking this animal was used to not being held and loved, accustomed to solitude. I wondered what his little fluffy life was like beyond that car, and my heart sank at all the pitiful possibilities.
Now, being the dramatic person that I am, I may have been acting quite presumptuous -- how was I to truly know the entirety of the dog's predicament by just looking at him through a car's window -- but the occurrence got me thinking: How does this dusty metaphoric window separate us in the realm of special needs from each other?
The window of our community represents the capsule of self-reliance we tend to force upon ourselves, both as parents and as siblings of the special ones in our lives. Consistently, in myself and others, I see a mass of people with the same struggles who fight to overcome their pains and misfortune, perchance not with full trust in God, but instead with a downtrodden hope for help that leans into the inner walls of their own metallic cocoons. Some of us -- by fear, by anger, or by other reasoning -- choose to live this challenging life alone and shove ourselves into an unnatural place of acceptance towards seclusion. We feel nobody will ever help us, so why bother praying for others to shine God's light of grace on us when we don't expect anything of the sort?
Each of us have felt this way at least once in our lives, maybe twice, or perhaps on a daily basis, but all have felt the wrench of this pain pressing down on our forlorn little hearts. It's debilitating, sitting alone behind the window that was locked by our own hands, and it's a sour thought to consider when someone will ever unlock it.
On the other side of the window resides another concerning anomaly, a pedestrian that stands and observes but dares not lay their hands on the musty glass. They are those of us who pity: We stand and look through that window at the hapless soul within and think to ourselves, "How awful! I remember when I was like that. I wish there were something I could do to make this right." And yet, we step away from the encasement without a truly helpful word of aid or comfort. Whether we back away from the glass with higher priorities ahead, or we fear being sucked back into that lonely chasm for another round, matters not. For whatever reason, we veer off elsewhere from our acquiescent neighbors, and each is left to their own devices.
There is an undeniable brokenness between the bond that all of us share in the special needs community, a bond that we could never attach to one outside of the unique connection God has blessed us with. God has put us in these situations of adversity to draw us closer as His precious children! How glorious it is that God has blessed us with one anothers company, to share our woes and hurts with each other with a firm foundation in Him! But there's the dilemma we face: How are we to fit compassion and company between ourselves and the windows we have put up?
The answer lies at our feet, under our noses, considered the most powerful aspect of God and humanity, highlighted in 1 Corinthians and in the remaining pages of His word. Love is what we need most, for we can have the greatest intentions and still accomplish nothing of substance without love. Without love, we are not fit to roll down the windows of separation, nor are our neighbors strong enough to roll them down for us. To us, God says this:
God's boundless heart of love shines bright within us all, and it is a light that is meant to burst forth and illuminate the darkened souls and broken bodies of the world. God's love is a gift that is meant to be shared with strangers and brethren alike, a gift so grand as to break the bonds of grief and weariness, shred open the iron walls of our lonely cocoons, and break way to unity amongst His children. With the unbreakable compassion of our Father resting in the core of our very being, what is there to stop us from questioning our glass barriers? With love, God lends us His almighty strength, to reach for our and others windows of solemnity, and pry open the bonds that release into prospect and cherished harmony with one another.
Pray: Lord God, grant to me the strength to shine your light to those in need. Make me courageous enough to approach those who suffer like I have, to take their hand in love and show them compassion and grace as you have shown us.