We all know disability draws the attention of others. I get it. I look, too. We often feel like everybody is Evan's friend. (Mostly pretty girls. Evan has moves like Jagger. Be jealous.) People we don't recognize will stop to talk to Evan because they know him from somewhere. Occasionally, they will tell us how they are acquainted with him. But usually, we go without ever discovering how our celebrity son knows these people. This has made us more aware, whether we realize it or not, somebody's always watching. (Que music: "I always feel like ... somebody's watching me." Did I just give away my age again?)
After Paul and Silas had been beaten, thrown in jail, under heavy guard and clamped in leg irons: "Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn't believe their ears." Acts 16:22-24 Msg
Somebody was watching Paul and Silas that night.
After an earthquake, the jailer thought the prisoners had escaped. Because of this, he wanted to kill himself. Paul and Silas showed him they were all accounted for. Not only did this moment bring the jailer to belief in Jesus, but later, his entire family. (There is so much more great detail to this story. Read it all in Acts 16:16-40)
Paul and Silas had reason to complain. They had reason to whine and moan and even run away when given the opportunity. But they stayed. They sang hymns to God. And people were watching.
What if people were watching a different story? What if Paul and Silas were bemoaning their situation that night? From the looks of things they had every right to groan about being beaten up, complain about being thrown in jail, among several other things. Why didn't they run after the earthquake? I wonder if the jailer would have been as interested in hearing what they had to say about Jesus after listening to them complain? Would the whole jailer's family be praising Jesus right now if we heard only of Paul and Silas' struggles?
Does anyone want to hear about what Jesus has done in my life after only complaining about the weight of special needs?
I won't stop being honest about the challenges of this life. Paul and Silas' story was honest. They had a rough go, for sure. Acts 16 doesn't shy away from being truthful about their day. But at the end of that hard day, they sang robust hymns to God. Acts 16 goes on to tell us they encouraged their friends in the faith, as well.
Be honest. Praise God. Encourage others.
My hard days shouldn't be an excuse to whine and moan, but all the more reason to turn to prayer and singing to God. My hard days should be a conduit for encouraging others, building others up in the faith.
Because you never know who is watching.
My husband and I are parents of all boys. One of whom is a young adult with both physical and intellectual disabilities. I don't always know what I'm doing as I parent these guys. But what I do know is God is teaching me big things through our trials that I probably would have never learned without them. You can find more from me at www.mostlyeandme.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @stefmckeever.