This morning on my walkabout I happened to pass a young mother with her little girl going into a store. They were walking from the parking lot, talking, and laughing. Both were drop-dead gorgeous, except for one small detail: the woman clearly suffered from a debilitating disease.
She walked with a distinct waddle, her neck could not support her head, and it was tilted back. Her speech was halting and indistinct. Perhaps she has muscular distrophy; I don’t know but it’s clear that whatever she has, it is a permanent part of who she is.
My first reaction was the usual for those of us who think we are kind-hearted: pity. I pitied that woman; I pitied her child, who, I thought, must be frightfully embarrassed to be seen in public with her abnormal mother.
The pity parade lasted about as long as it’s taking me to write this line. Awe replaced pity. I stood in awe of this remarkable woman. She is clearly in control of her life; she radiates life and joy. She also just as clearly has a daughter with qualities we’d all like to see in our children (no slam at my daughters; just as lovely but now no longer in that cute 4-6 year old stage).
I’m not envious. I don’t wish to be tested with a debilitating disease, thank you very much. My relatively minor problems are quite enough. But seeing this woman made me take stock and stop complaining to God about my own problems. Seeing this woman made me realize that God is in each of us, and manifests His love in ways that we may mistake for misfortune.