Friday, December 14, 2012

R Word

The R word...

Over the last few months I have heard more and more people using the R word.  Adults, teenagers, children, men, women throw around the word retarded as an insult. 

"You are so retarded."
"I look retarded.  You look retarded."
"That's so retarded."

Just typing the words, the insults, makes me physically ill.  Every time I hear someone use the R word I feel like someone is punching me in the gut.  And it just isn't son, Jacob, told me he heard a friend say retarded and he wanted to get up and punch him in the face (thankfully my Jake practiced the fruit of the spirit, self control, and didn't react negatively)!

You see when I hear the word retarded, I am reminded that

my daughter struggles in school to read, learn math facts, etc
my daughter cannot watch her brother play basketball because the whistles and loud noises are too much
my daughter hasn't had a positive "church" experience in the last few years because there was nothing for her
my daughter doesn't play and socialize with other kids her age
my daughter behaves differently and people look, and question, and judge her and us
my daughter becomes frustrated when she cannot do something that she knows other kids her age can do
my daughter is anxious about school
my daughter cannot eat a meal in a restaurant if the balloon lady is walking around making balloon animals
my daughter will crawl into the fetal position and cover her ears if people chew gum and pop bubbles and don't notice that she is withdrawing
my daughter will have a much harder isn't easy for her...

You see when I hear the word retarded ...

my daughter's face pops into my mind
my daughter's laugh rings in my ears
my daughter's smile reaches my heart
my daughter's hugs wrap around my waist
my daughter's kisses are felt on my cheek
my daughter's incredible insight on life touches my soul
my daughter's love for her sisters and brother warms this momma's heart
my daughter's love for dogs makes me smile
my daughter's incredible memory astounds me
my daughter's observations of the things around her amaze me
my daughter's sense of humor makes me laugh
my daughter's face pops into my mind

The word retarded isn't an insult.  My beautiful daughter sees life in ways like no other person I know.  She is excited about the rain.  She laughs at the most delightful, inappropriate things.  She has made her mom, dad, brother, and sisters more compassionate human beings.  She has changed our lives for the better.  We can love others better.  We are more patient and less judgmental of those who are "different".  I am so thankful that God trusted us with this precious little girl and entrusted us with raising her and loving her.

I have had the honor to share Scottie and my mommy perspective on the flippant use of the word retarded.  I have heard one of my students chastising another for using the R word.  I have had young ladies and men approach me and apologize for saying the word.  I don't believe that these students or even most people say the R word with the intention to insult people with a low IQ.  It is an easy insult to throw around...a way to describe something...a word that society has accepted as an appropriate insult. 

My prayer and hope is that once you meet my daughter, the word retarded will no longer be a word that is thrown around with little regard to those who have a lower IQ or the families who love these amazing children of God.  My prayer and hope is that the word retarded isn't what defines my daughter but rather her life, love, and laughter is what others experience and remember.

The next time you hear (or perhaps slip up and say) the R word, I want this face and smile to pop into your head.

Scottie and her friend, Gus

Scottie with her sisters

Scottie wearing my wedding dress

Here is Cate Scotlyn Denton (Scottie)
She is a child of God.  She is someone's daughter,  She is someone's sister,  She is someone's granddaughter.  She is someone's niece.  She is INCREDIBLE!
"For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb. 
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well." 
Psalm 139:13-14

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tired of Being Offended

Scott is in ministry....his full-time job is working for a church.  He hasn't always been in ministry so we are still trying to figure it all out.  Ha!  We will never have it all figured out, BUT there are some lessons that I have learned over the last 4 years.  Interestingly the most important lesson or truth is a simple statement I heard while listening to a wise woman as she shared with middle school girls.

When you CHOOSE to be OFFENDED, you STOP being EFFECTIVE.

I spent these first years in ministry choosing to be offended...not all the time and not about everything, but regardless, every time I chose to be offended by someone else, I became less and less effective in ministry.  I found myself pulling away and going into self preservation mode.  I stepped away from ministries that I know God had called me to...I no longer served with the same fervor and passion...I stopped seeing people the way God sees them.  I didn't consciously say, "I am offended."  But by not keeping my eyes on Jesus, His calling and His truth, I allowed the offenses to steer me away. 

As I wrestle with this truth, I have to come to terms with the fact that I am not always at fault for the offenses.  The other party may in fact be offensive and hurtful, but my reaction to them is something I need to...must...100% own.  What hurts me is probably not something purposely orchestrated by someone else.  I need to get over myself and the idea that there are those who sit in their home plotting how to make me feel inferior, small, or insignificant.  How incredibly prideful I have been because it isn't about me!  I allowed the offenses to be about me and lost sight of what it is really all about...

Loving others.
Serving others.
Loving Jesus.
Serving Jesus.
Seeking truth.
Speaking truth.

God gave me gifts and areas of ministry that I was passionate about and I allowed the offense to outweigh the power of the Spirit within me.

Will I still be offended?  Probably.
Will others still say and do things that are hurtful?  Probably.
Will I allow Satan a win by choosing to be offended?  NO!
Will I allow the offenses to dictate how the Spirit can and will use me in ministry?  NO!

I cannot control others (I have tried).  But I can make an intentional choice to not be offended and allow God to continue to use me in ministry.

Scott started a new job a few weeks ago and for the first time since we have been in ministry, I have the ability to sit back and allow God to reveal His ministry for me.  There is no hurry or dire need that I must fill.  The best part is that the urgency I feel to get involved isn't because anyone needs me, but rather that I need (want) to serve.  I want to jump in and love, serve, share, and allow God to use me in the most effective way possible.

It starts with me.  I will choose not to be offended so that I can be effective.  It starts with me.