Jesus in a Grey T-shirt

A few days ago, one of my children, adopted after many years of neglect and damage, hurt another child when we were in our town. While that type of behavior has been decreasing over time, it can still happen. Because our child has very limited ability to communicate, that type of behavior has been exceedingly difficult for anyone to get a handle on, and while much effort has gone into teaching, training, AND prevention, we are not fully successful yet at helping her to completely end the behavior. Normally, our profuse apologies and the fact that it’s easy to see our child has special needs, usually puts an end to initial irritation or anger on the part of the adults of the child who has been offended.

This time? No way. There was screaming. There was horrible cussing. There was terrible name calling directed towards my daughter (who understood) and the parent involved did not want to hear an apology, nor explanation. What made it even odder? This parent claimed her child had special needs and therefore was beyond furious–“How DARE your child pull my daughter’s hair when she has autism?!”   Given that her daughter was speaking and behaving quite typically given what had just happened to her, it is quite probable that sadly, my daughter’s special needs are likely far more of a hindrance in her day-to-day life currently than the girl with autism. And I don’t say that to discount her daughter’s struggles. I well know the challenges a child on the autism spectrum can and does face on a regular basis! And surely, you think that another parent of a child with special needs would be the most understanding and forgiving of another child with special needs? But not this mother.

She would not listen to an apology, nor an explanation and any attempt on my part to do so was met with yelling and some very vile cussing, along with screaming that my daughter was a “freak.”  Not only was the mother yelling, but her son had now joined her.  My child was sobbing, the child who she had hurt was traumatized and sobbing, and rather than the mother directing her attention to her hurting child, she whipped out her phone and began dialing while screaming, “I’m calling the cops! I’m calling the cops!”   “Go ahead,” I said calmly.  After all, given her state of mind, I figured the cops might not be a bad idea.

“Get back to the hole you crawled out of and never come back out, ” she screamed in a rage. “Go! Leave NOW!”

I grabbed my kiddos and walked away.

We drove home and I spent the next several hours shaking and crying. The evil hatred and venomous curses she spewed at us totally triggered some strong emotions in me from previous times in my life where I was a victim of verbal, physical and emotional abuse.   Even though I was keenly aware that was what was going on, it did not make it much easier to bear. I was shaken to my core at the anger directed towards my hurting child, and Satan began to try to plant fear, doubt and many other negative emotions into my heart. “You will never be able to go out in public again! What if they see you and start screaming again at you?! You live in a small town! What if they see you again and call CPS?”

My head knew what was going on, and with the support and prayers of friends, I got through the weekend more or less OK. But during the hours of Sunday night, the night mares began. I crawled out of bed, groggy and feeling the strain. A dear friend decided that she needed to come over and be with me for a few hours, and after she arrived, we realized that my only chance to grocery shop before visitors came later, was to go and get it done while she baby sat my kiddos and gave a hand with a few things around the house.

Reluctantly, I went to get groceries. Driving past the location where it happened to get to the grocery store was hard. The whole time I was shopping, I kept having to battle anxiety and being jumpy and nervous when others in the store would look at me. It was tough for me to give my usual happy smile when someone glanced at me, although I did try. The shopping drug on and I kept speaking truth to my emotions, but they kept wanting to bubble up in a panic.

After I was finally out of the store, I was able to feel a trifle less anxious and  I was fully focused on loading my groceries into the car when I heard a gentle, cheery voice call from a short distance away, “Would you like me to help you load those water jugs into the trunk?” I looked up, startled, to see a man standing a few yards away with a pleasant smile on his face. My startled brain took in a grey T-shirt and some cargo pants. It was no one I knew, that much I knew. “Thank you, but I can do it” I said briefly back.

“I’m sure you can, Ma’am,” he said in the same gentle voice, “but I’d like to do it if you will allow me.”

“OK if you are sure,” I agreed, wondering to myself what he wanted to do that for!

He walked over and capably put the heavy jugs in, making sure to arrange them so the trunk lid would latch. I thanked him, and then as he walked away, I said, “Your Mama trained you well.” He turned around and threw a cheery smile my way. “She sure did!” he agreed. “I give her all the credit!”

I continued to finish loading the last few bags of groceries into the car, finally smacked the lid down and began to push the cart towards the cart holder. Suddenly, he materialized again, with the same gentle voice and genial smile–a kind of shy one, I noticed this time. “I can take that for you if you like,” he said as he reached out a hand. I handed the cart over to him after thanking him a little more profusely this time. “I don’t have anything else to do” he said in response to my thanks and walked off with the cart.

Back in the car, tears stung my eyes. “God, you sent “Jesus” to me just now, didn’t you?! You knew I needed to have someone treat me with human kindness and decency. Please bless that guy!”

He will likely never know how he ministered to my hurting heart. But God knew what I needed and sent him.   Let’s look for ways to be “Jesus” to our family members and others. Let’s make a good difference!

— An Adoptive Mom

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