In our Friday Focus series, we share stories of people making a positive difference in the world of special needs. Many thanks to my friend, Meg Lynch, for sharing her beautiful story of friendship today.
Good morning, you guys!
I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Meg. I’m a sucker for cute faces and beautiful stories. I’ve had wanderlust since high school, yet I find myself a stay-at-home daughter, primary caretaker of my father who has Parkinson’s. I’ve been writing since fourth grade and have a Bachelor’s degree in Writing and Rhetoric, but I’m still learning more about the craft each and every day. I see the world through the lens of a story-teller. Every single person on this planet has a story to tell, and I am in the art of helping people share their hearts. I have a big future ahead of me, but I’m learning to find meaning and appreciation in the every-day moments.
I need you to know one thing: my life wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t my friends (and mom). They listen to my whines and give me solid advice to keep moving forward. My friends intercede on my behalf constantly; I reside safely in a bubble of peace because of their willingness to fight alongside me. Their presence in my life makes the hard days less hard. I could not imagine having to do this without them.
One #BestieForTheRestie in particular, Ms. Julia “Sparrows” Putzke, has vastly shaped my view of the world and of our Precious Father. My favorite nickname for this particular friend is Jewelia, and let me tell you: she is quite a rare gem indeed.
She has quite the knack for putting profound revelations into three-word phrases, as you can see by my post “Pray For Her“. Since we first became friends, Julia has consistently been the iron to my iron (Proverbs 27:17). She has been integral in my personal growth, and I in hers. Her drive in life and spontaneity in reaching her goals is inspiring; she is the only reason I published the first edition of my first volume of poetry. Julia is one of the most brilliant and wonderful people on the planet, but there’s something about her most people don’t see past.
My best friend Julia has cerebral palsy. She uses a walker or a cane to get around and needs help to get up and down stairs. It’s the first thing people see about her, and it is evident they let it shape their opinions of her.
The first time I met Julia in person, I took her to a Jamie Grace concert. We’d worked together on a few writing projects before this; I knew she had cerebral palsy, but I was still a little jarred the first time I saw her face to face. She didn’t look as “normal” as she sounded. However, I knew Julia, and I knew this concert meant the world to her. I was a little nervous, and I wound up breaking her walker before we even got the venue, but I took my new friend to see her favorite singer, and it was a beautiful night we both needed.
But during the four or so hours we were out and about that night, people looked at me, looked at her, and then heralded me as some Super Amazing Friend, doing this HUGE THING for someone who needs SO MUCH HELP. I saw more than one look of “Why is she even here?” thrown her way. They saw Julia for her disability, and they saw me as some hero…because I took a few hours out of my day to put the biggest smile imaginable on the face of my friend.
It made me angry. The thing is, we humans tend to see things at only face value – we judge books by their covers all the time, and unfortunately, this flows into how we see people. We assume that because people don’t look quite “right” on the outside, they must be not quite right inside. I’m sure we, here, know that could not be further from the truth. Love is a fundamental human right, but we can be so distant and hesitate in approaching people with physical disabilities. I’ve been there myself, even.
But the truth is that there nothing wrong with someone who looks different than you. Just because someone needs help to walk or has other physical needs, it doesn’t mean they have any less value.
The truth is that because of my friendship with Julia, I’ve had the confidence to step up and share love with people who don’t always receive the love they need. I notice when people get mean looks, and I can go talk to them and share smiles and laughter with them.
As a result, the most beautiful things have happened. One time, I tutored a student who has cerebral palsy, and when I encouraged her to move closer to her paper and didn’t move away when she did, she got the hugest smile on her face. She even tried to get her mom to change around her schedule so she could work with only me as a tutor… because I didn’t back away when she got close to me.
It takes five seconds and minimal effort to treat people as normal human beings. Just because someone looks “different” than everybody else, that doesn’t mean they aren’t as smart or beautiful as the rest of us. They are humans, too, and every human deserves to be loved and treated as real humans.
Meg is both a writer and an encourager of writers. You can find her personal blog at www.meglynch203.wordpress.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @meglynch203.