When I Look At You…

When I look at you with your artificial limb, I don’t mean to stare. I’m just imagining the moment your life was altered. Perhaps this is all you’ve even known. I’m wondering how selfish I seem to you when I complain about my morning coffee that wasn’t hot enough.

When I look at your child with Down Syndrome, I don’t mean to offend you. That smile that seems to be born of joy from deep within is so infectious. I want to be around your child all the time. I know the smile I see and the laughter I hear is not what you get to experience all the time. I know your life, and your child’s, can be difficult at times. But at this moment when I see that smile, you’ve touched my life in a wonderful way and I am grateful to you. How shallow do I seem when I am inspired by your child?

When I look at the contracted teenager you push around in the wheelchair, I’m not staring out of disgust. I am looking for the light that you see each day. I can’t help but wonder how many times each day you are amazed by this person – their fight, their will, their spirit. Do you feel sorry for me that I don’t get to be inspired by a life like this?

When I look at you – with your

port wine stain birthmark


hearing aid

enlarged head

dark glasses

service dog

wheelchair / walker


sign language

crooked spine

bent limbs


difficulty communicating or understanding…..

I do not mean to belittle you. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I want to say hello. I want to ask you one thousand questions. I want to talk for hours. I want to just sit quietly. I want to understand what your life is like and how it’s different from mine. I want you to know that I am inspired by you. I’m sorry that you are angered by the ‘you are my hero’ campaigns built around your challenges. I don’t mean to put pressure on you to live a ‘normal’ life. I don’t mean to define ‘normal’ for you. But, seeing you live your life despite your challenges makes me want to be a better person. Not because I see you as an incapable person who overcame the odds. I see you as a capable person who was given extra obstacles and still goes on with your life.

When I look at you I can see your brokeness. Mine is more easily hidden. You are a reminder to me of how broken we all are. This is why we need each other and why we live in community. When I look at you I long to be more – not because I think you need me to be, but because I need me to be more. When I look at you I am reminded of all that I am lacking – the strength I have not shown, the will I do not carry, the joy I overlook, the time I have squandered.

Please forgive my stares. Please understand that when I look at you, when I smile, when I can’t turn away it is because I need you and I am grateful our paths crossed.

When I look at you….I am filled with overwhelming love.

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