Shabby Miss Jenn

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dumb Dog

Our church started a new series today, called Messy, and today's service was on grace. The pastor was telling a story about his "dumb dog", ironically named Sparky. Sparky was a rescue dog, a schnoodle--schnauzer/poodle mix--if I remember correctly. Before taking Sparky to his new home, they were told that Sparky had some awkward behaviors--maybe he had been dropped on his head at some point--but otherwise, they said, he was really cute and adorable. Of course those behaviors quickly loose their "cuteness" when you're having to care for the dog more than anticipated.

It seems that Sparky needs help doing practically everything! He's so dumb that you can sit him up on a chair, and he'll just stay there perfectly content, as he can't get down. Better yet, he doesn't seem to have the desire to get down. As for house training, they don't think that's ever going to happen. The dog can't seem to grasp the concept. In order to get to the back yard, Sparky has to be nudged down the step off the porch because he can't physically maneuver the step on his own. He's that dumb! Then when he's called to come inside, he'll just sit there and look at you. Now, that's just stupid! Honestly, it was a pretty good analogy of our relationship with Jesus and those He's trying to draw closer to Him. Sometimes we just sit there and stare at Him as He waits for us. But as good as the analogy was, it was also a reminder of how different my life is today than it was four years ago.

I LOVE our pastor and our church. He's an easy going guy who tells it like it is. He's down to earth and a self-proclaimed sinner. I often relate to most of his stories and laugh at the majority of them. They're "real". I laughed this morning about his "dumb dog" because on the surface, it was funny. But as I sat there laughing, I couldn't help but think that Sparky and Wade are a lot alike. In fact, when he was talking about the things he has to do for his "dumb dog", I pictured me doing the same for Wade. My laughter became a little more subdued as it started to hide the hurt in my heart. It was just another reality check that we, as a society, find humor in people and things being dumb or stupid or...retarded. It was painful.

On our way to lunch, I expressed this to Curtis. He said he had looked at me out of the corner of his eye and wondered why I was laughing. I had noticed that he wasn't laughing. I had questioned to myself if he was having the same thoughts or if he just wasn't paying attention. Obviously it hurt him as well. I then looked over at another couple who have a child with a disability, and I wondered what they were thinking. Did they feel the pain I was feeling? Were they envisioning their child instead of Sparky?

There was no ill will behind the story of Sparky. Feelings were not meant to be hurt. It was just such a strong reminder that our experiences shape us and make us who we are. We respond to life based on what we've gone through and the lessons we've learned. Four years ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about this story. But now I have a son who is one day going to be laughed at and made fun of because he has a disability. "Dumb" jokes just aren't as funny as they used to be.


Jason and Shannon said...

Such a good story/realization! Of course, I was totally relating the beginning of this story to my own son & my own life. Except, my take on it would have been less about people thinking my child was retarded and more about how people take very little to zero time to think about, care about or help families with disabled children. I'm not saying that to be mean or critical of them...I'm saying that because it is true...and I know this because I never blinked at a disabled child before my son, much less thought about all that child and family endure day to day. But no matter the take on the story or the circumstance, your blogging is definitely expanding people's understanding of others -- just like your friend said. I think with the age of the internet, and particularly social utilities like FB, we have a wonderful tool at our fingertips to help others expand their views about people, about life, etc...and all of that fosters understanding and acceptance. I am not a blogger because I just can't do posts like you & others can, but I try to use FB to do much of the same. I think we have many callings as parents of special kids like ours. I think we should continue to search and tap into as many of those callings as we can because if we succeed, how awesome to know we left this Earth with such impact on other people & the world. As much as I miss my previous typical mom of healthy children life...I am sure that I am going to be a better person & leave a positive mark once I am able to come to terms with it all...because of my son. You are already succeeding in leaving your marks.

jocalyn said...

My life and perceptions have certainly changed a lot over the last three years too.

I admire your grit and eloquent ability to keep raising awareness and advocating for others.

I've been very discouraged with myslf lately. I feel like I'm losing my want (or maybe need) to fight. Why does everything have to be such a fight? It's overwhelming, and I feel my thoughts change daily depending on my mood.

I just want people to respect people. No matter their abilities, religion, sexual preference, race, gender...Let's just all treat each other the way we want to be treated!

And I probably would have laughed at that story! Because, as you know, I have a REALLY extraordinary dog also!

kelly in Texas said...

Very well said, Jennifer. Another example, too, of how isolating it is to have a family member with a disability. Why can't I sit there and laugh at something that the whole rest of the group is laughing at? And how can they find that story so funny?? Ugh. Makes me feel alone and weird. That's the hardest part for me. . . And that's the part that makes me cynical and convinces me that "they" will never understand my life.

Jennifer said...

I feel ya Jocalyn! I think the will to fight ebbs and flows. I'm in a "down" time right now too. But I think it's because of summer. I just want to relax and have fun. I'm tired of being on guard all the time. But you know your mama claws will surface when they need to. You're amazing and will rise to the challenge when needed.

Shannon--I'm so glad to have "met" you online. I remember being where you are in your journey. You encourage me as well.

And Kelly, sometimes I think we're one in the same. Thanks for being such a wonderful friend.