“If you don’t like how they treat you, take the time to teach them a different way.” The advice seemed so simple. Despite my disabilities, my parents always tried to make sure I could operate in mainstream culture. To help people grow comfortable with my differences, I learned to make jokes about my limp, my leg braces, or the spasticity in my hands caused by cerebral palsy.
It wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, there were hundreds of times I went home crying because the mocking didn’t stop. But every time I tried to give up, my parents were quick to remind me, in not so many words, that giving up on others wasn’t showing them godly love. So, I spent many days of my childhood repeating the same conversations and dealing with the same people, while they held to their ignorance about individuals in situations like mine.
It took patience and perseverance. Some people never got it. Even to this day, I’m cute, but their understanding of my life ends there. But there are so many more people who finally understand my differences are something to enjoy, rather than something to be afraid of, mocked, or coddled.
By no means do I have that skill mastered. However, that struggle taught me what relational discipleship can look like. Often, I approach non-Christians, share with them the Gospel truth, and if they don’t accept it right away, my initial desire is to give up on them. But when I stay with them, grow a friendship with them, and give them a reason to stick around me, God works when I don’t even realize He’s working.
I had to keep offering friendship to people who couldn’t understand me so they could change their minds over time. We have to keep offering love to people who don’t accept Christ so that, over time, they have a better chance to see that Christ really can make a difference.
Never give up on a person simply because they seem impossible. God thrives in impossibilities. ~Written by Cassie Rayl, from Released! The Women of Grace USA blog