29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Let me tell you a little story:
Derek and I just boarded our second airplane flight since the recent diagnosis of paraplegia. As you can imagine, wheelchairs can be a little tricky to maneuver around thin plane aisles. Because of this, we were the first ones to take our seats. Once Derek was situated by the window, a stewardess retrieved his chair and whisked it below with the other luggage.
Now the waiting started. I couldn't help but feel like we were keeping this great secret. As people shuffled onto the plane, no one had any idea Derek actually couldn't just stand up and walk out of there. Well, the secret got less fun to keep as the literal hours rolled on. When our flight continued to be delayed due to weather and pilot hour issues, I got more fidgety knowing Derek's chair was not within easy access. The flight crew then released everyone to mill about the cabin or take a break in the terminal, so at that point, we were really stuck.
2 hours into our wait, a bubbly flight stewardess plopped down in the seat next to me and struck up a conversation with us. A few minutes into chatting, Derek's legs started to bounce from spasms. As they bobbed about, the flight stewardess sweetly said to me, "O hunny. You know what they say about a man who bounces his legs like that...he must be keeping a secret from you!" I laughed and just smiled knowing the joke was actually on her. 10 minutes later I asked the flight staff to grab Derek's chair because we needed to take a break from the plane. You should have seen that poor woman's face as Derek transferred into his chair. She just mouthed to me, "I'm so sorry. I had no idea!"
Now days, it feels like everyone is offended over something. If we aren't personally offended, then we are offended for the stranger who is offended.
Here's the deal. Being offended really has a way of stealing the joy of daily life. As my dad would say to Jr. High LeAnne, "The mean kids days aren't ruined by them being mean, so don't let it ruin yours."
We've learned that 99.9% of people have good intentions. No one (yet) has set out to belittle us or make comments to hurt our feelings regarding Derek's injury. But we have had some instances where comments were said, apologies were frantically given, and laughs quickly followed.
Derek's mother was discussing how his grandma was confined to a wheelchair in her final days. She said, "It was her time to go. She just had such a low quality of life because of that wheelchair."
My mother said (in reference to an individual who woke up paralyzed and it would take months to regain feeling/ walking abilities), "Can you imagine how scary it would be to wake up and know you wouldn't be able to walk for months?"
Derek's response, "Not as scary as waking up and knowing you were never going to walk again!"
We laugh at these moments and take comfort in knowing that even our closest people have said ridiculous things.
Truthfully? We are all taking ourselves and others a little too seriously. There is joy and laughter that comes from learning life together. Now, I understand there are real life bullies who want nothing more than to tear others down but what about the millions of others who are just out here doing life for the first time along with you?
If you say something ridiculous, you won't offend us, we will just tease you. And if you are offended by something someone says or does, ask them about it. You may be surprised to learn that they did not intend it to hurt your feelings at all.
Not confronting the person about the issue does not give you the right to complain about it to other people. Wouldn't you want the chance to apologize or defend yourself? Give others the same chance you would want to be given.
May we all be quick to laugh and even quicker to forgive.
Please don't be offended by this blog post.