Leper for a day

This morning we were awakened from sleep by cries. Not from the baby, which is relatively normal, but from the 3 year old. From time to time this happens in the middle of the night but not often in the morning.  When I went into her room I was shocked to see her covered from head to toe in a horrible rash: on her belly, on the nape of her neck, on her back, on her face. I instantly asked if her throat hurt, she replied yes.

After a hectic morning, a revelation that perhaps familial reactions to penicillin had passed to her, some Benadryl, and a first dose of steroids, we reasoned some Chick Fil A was deserved. It had been scary for us all.

But as soon as we walked in the door I felt it: looks, mothers pulling their children closer, stares, grimaces. My child was the one today who no one wanted to touch, or sit by, or share the play ground with. Fortunately, she’s terribly shy and a lunch time playground rarely proves tempting anyway.

I saw a mom stare us down as we walked by and I compensated by loudly discussing her Amoxil allergy with my husband. When our daughter stood up in our booth and got 6 inches from a middle aged woman in the next booth, the woman grimaced and left. How I longed for a sign that said “It’s a medicine reaction-it’s not contagious!”

And then I thought-how many times have I been that mom that stares, the mom that judges, the mom that doesn’t want my kid playing with the sick kid.

How must have AIDS patients felt in the 80’s, shunned by society. How do they feel today?

How do children who have lost their hair, or live in a wheelchair feel when they are stared at, given pity, whispered about, wondered about?

What about the schizophrenics that wander the streets of my city?

And so, today, I was given just a glimpse. Just a picture of how some people are treated daily. And as always, I go back to Jesus and how he would behave. Would he shun the prostitutes, and the lepers, and the tax collectors? No, he would love them. He would eat with them. He would touch them.

I met a guy last night who has shared his dinner table with the town “crazy lady” multiple times. This women is a legend. I almost killed her once when she jumped from the bushes in front of my car to flip me off. She routinely does this to passersby. Every one has an Agnes story but I’ve never known anyone who knows her. But this guy knows her story and EATS with her. She calls him on the phone. This is what Jesus would do.

I am so often held back by one thing: fear.

The skin of my little leper for the day is clearing up slowly. I thank God that she is not as vain as I and seems unscathed by her face in the mirror, but I am left with the reality that any of us could be a leper for the day or for the rest of our lives. May we be filled with love and compassion of Jesus toward everyone. Always. Under every circumstance.

You may read my blog and may not believe in Jesus as I do and you don’t have to. But his example is wonderful and timeless and I would implore you, even if you don’t believe to read about him and the best place to start is in the Gospel narratives of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

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