“Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment—he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.”
-A Poor Wafaraying Man of Grief, vs. 6. Text by James Montgomery 1771-1854.
This summer we were late to Bryn’s soccer game. Late is not something I do. In our rush (Lindsey was driving) we came to a cross-walk with a round-about. The speed limit dropped to 15 mph but our mini-van speed did not drop. We quickly parked and as I put my special needs child in her stroller a person came up and snidely commented how dangerous we were driving, the speed limit had dropped, and we were going to get somebody killed. Because these comments were directed to my wife, I got a little defensive and simply said, “thanks for the information.”
A few months later we found ourselves in Salt Lake City, Utah waiting family members in downtown. After driving for five hours from Boise, Elise was spent. Putting her coat on outside in the cold weather didn’t help . . . or the fruit snacks . . . or the crackers . . . or the chocolate . . . or water. She was simply done. We parked on the street next to some apartments and from one of the upper floors someone yelled, “Make your kid shut-up!”
Walking to the soccer fields from the parking lot in the summer and walking downtown this winter I thought of the impertinence and audacity that some people have. Who are they to tell me what to do? We have a special needs daughter—doesn’t that give us a pass? Don’t you know how difficult my circumstance is?
As I have thought about those experiences, along with a few others at the store, at church, or elsewhere I have realized that the answers to those questions really aren’t important, and, frankly, neither are the questions. I suppose there is something in human nature that causes us to jump to our own particular plight rather than think of others. Because I have a unique situation, I believed, it automatically made it more important, more deserving, and more credible than any others. In other words, I am not privy to life experience of the fellow driver or the angry apartment tenant; therefore, why should I feel entitled to a special pass or special treatment for our special needs while not allowing others the same.
Each person has a “wound concealed.” Some are more visible than others. Some heroes of mine bear the shame of the world because they chose to have eight kids; other heroes carry burdens of broken families or broken hearts. Others have tremendous capacity and potential but find themselves underwhelmed at opportunities to express or increase their talents. The concealed wounds come in the form of abuse, neglect, loneliness, fatigue, and indifference. Understanding that everyone “has a wound concealed” will help each person who has some form of special need to “forg[et] the smart” and have “peace bind up [our] broken hearts.” Simply put, by finding ourselves as the family and parents that have been scoffed and ridiculed by those who simply don’t know, I have found more patience, less judgment, and more gratitude that really has brought greater “peace to my broken heart.”