Thursday, April 18, 2013

Curiosity presents Opportunity

The other day a fellow mom posted a story on our CdLS Facebook Discussion Board that I wanted to share with you all. I hope it touches your heart as much as it touched mine.

She wrote..

"We had a sweet experience tonight. While at my daughters recital the little boy next to us couldn't help but notice Declan and his helmet. I heard him whisper to his dad "Why does he have that on his head?" Then to my surprise the dad sweetly said "It's ok if you want to ask his mom about it." The boy looked at me and I nodded and he politely asked why he was wearing it. I explained very simply that his head needed a little help to grow the right shape. I told him that it is good to ask questions about things like that. He then said "Can I ask one more? Why does he only have 3 fingers?" Again, I have a simple explanation "Heavenly Father makes everyone perfect, and He knew that Declan didn't need 5 fingers to be perfect!" With those simple questions all the fear and uncertainty was gone. I wish more people would allow themselves and their children the opportunity to be educated instead of being uncomfortable. We hear and see them looking. Ignoring our kids doesn't change them. I told the dad how impressed I was that he encouraged his son to acknowledge mine and ask his questions instead of hushing him and letting him think something was "wrong". I just had to share because I know we have all had the opposite experience."

Wow. What a powerful message. I mean.. we've all done it. Looked a few seconds longer at someone a little different from ourselves. It could be someone with an obvious syndrome, a missing limb, or a noticeable scar. It could be someone toting specialized medical equipment, or merely someone of different nationality. It's usually not done out of a desire to be rude or make that person feel uncomfortable, but rather merely out of curiosity. We're curious what happened and whether that could happen to us. We're curious how they live their lives and whether we know someone similar to them. We're curious about our differences and why they're there. We're just curious.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Curiosity is a wonderful tool that presents us with an opportunity for learning, an opportunity for growth. A chance to seek out and understand. A chance to form a relationship with someone. A chance to look outside of our own life and into that of another. A chance to come together to accept and embrace our differences. But sadly, all too often our curiosity has the opposite affect. Our curiosity can cause us to look, but when we're caught in the act, to be ashamed of ourselves and the fact that we noticed our differences. Our curiosity can cause us to feel uncomfortable and quickly glance away. This can give the impression to the person who is 'different' that there is something so horrifically wrong with them that causes you to stare, but not even acknowledge their presence or worth as a human being. This can be entirely defeating to a person who has struggled their whole life to just be "normal." It can crush the heart of a mother trying so hard to build a better life for her child.

The thing I love about this story is that the father didn't succumb to that feeling to turn the other way, to hush his child and squelch his desire to know more. Instead, he gave his son a great gift. The gift of fulfilling his curiosity in a respectful manner and encouraging an opportunity for growth. If that father would have shushed his child into believing that there was something so wrong with this other boy that he shouldn't be talked about or even acknowledged, he would have missed out on an incredibly valuable lesson in understanding. He would have missed out on learning that everyone is different. He would have missed out understanding that everyone needs help at some point or another in different areas in our lives. He wouldn't have heard that God creates all people differently. He might not know that all of us, even people with only 3 fingers, are uniquely perfectly made. He would have missed out on learning that this little boy, though he may have looked different from himself, was just that--a little boy, with feelings and dreams just like his. He would have missed so much..

How many missed opportunities like this do we ourselves have?

I hope the next time we see someone who is different and causes us to unintentionally look a few seconds longer, we take that opportunity to embrace our curiosity instead of run from it. To reach out and give a smile instead of a look of shame, a wave instead of turning the other direction, a friendly "hello" instead of our deafening silence that speaks louder than we know. To embrace the difference in all of us and make this world a little better for ourselves and for our children.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure many of us have inadvertently given the wrong impression with our shushing. Thanks for showing us a different angle on these situations!