Yes, YES you really did read that title correctly. Why would I use such a CRUDE title for a Christian blog post? Because there is something pervasive that goes on in the Church that needs to be addressed, and it includes those of us living in the special needs community.
See if this sounds familiar to you:
Life is crumbling all around. An esteemed member of the community has a child whose diagnosis is kicking the family's tail. Life-threatening episodes have landed that child in the hospital repeatedly. Days here on earth are not looking very hopeful. Suddenly, the parent also receives a grave diagnosis, requiring additional time in the medical system, leaving time for little else. Yet, that family pushes forward as if nothing is out of the ordinary, smiles plastered on faces, lips gushing about the goodness of God, never letting on even a hint of feeling shaken.
A respected couple is doing everything they can to get into a routine with one of their children who has a diagnosis, when a completely different diagnosis hits one of their other children. They bravely march forward, despite teetering on the brink of bankruptcy from all of the medical bills. Perfectly coiffed, matching outfits, they are faithfully at church each week, garnering the utmost respect of others around them. They are perceived to have it all together with their smiling, fun photos on Instagram and Facebook. And their expectations are for everyone around them to carry on as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.THAT, my friends, can be the life of a polished turd.
It may be all beautiful and golden on the outside, but there is the same rancid, rotting content on the inside.
Now hear me when I say that I am in no way diminishing God's commands to "Rejoice in the Lord always," (Philippians 4:4) or "Give thanks in all circumstances," (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We absolutely should be obeying the Lord's mandate to do those things.
However, rejoicing and thankfulness don't mean that we bury our hurts or attempt to function at the exact same level when troubles come. As we are reminded in the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time and season for everything. We circumvent God's best for us when don't slow down, grieve, or make people understand that we ARE going through a difficult time in our journey. We may be looking pretty and functional to the less astute observer, but inside, we're still a mess.
When we live the life as a polished turd, we also do something terrible to our fellow members of the special needs, chronic illness, or disability communities. It may not be intentional, but we create a very unsafe space for others. Suddenly, they do not feel like they have permission to fall apart or slow down. Transparency and intimacy wane because caregivers sense they can't share with those who are oh-so-perfect. They falsely feel that they are falling short and being judged by others. Mutuality vanishes to our detriment.
Jesus decried this sort of behavior in the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27, ESV)