Is It Really That Bad?

Folks are a little taken aback when they see him.31e5a7a3-8b41-4351-b123-8a936c839c29

Comments range from “He looks so sad!” to concerned stares. And then backing up.

Ryken has hand, foot and mouth disease. A viral disease common among children, it presents as sores on the hands and feet, sometimes the legs and backside, and in and around the mouth. Highly contagious. After the fever is gone, they’re safe to be around.

Unless you come in contact with the blister fluid from the sores. Or the child’s poop. Good hygiene helps a lot.

Walking into a room and saying, “Don’t worry, he’s not contagious” doesn’t get the reaction of concern, consoling comments oraeda26a8-5175-434a-9df1-3489953f8497 people reaching to cuddle him.

Sympathetic comments may come, but personal space becomes a necessity.

Ryken is a sweet little boy. Totally gorgeous–and I’m not saying that because he’s my grandson. His appearance has affected how people respond to him

He didn’t ask for this. He got it because big sister Isley had it. And she probably got it in Sunday school.

Not the place you’d expect to encounter a nasty little bug.

What’s interesting is this virus hasn’t changed who he is one bit. He may whimper some–sores in his mouth make acidic food painful to eat. But he’s running around the house with giggles and a plan of action.

In a culture that puts so much emphasis on appearance and what it represents, it’s easy to see why this would have people feeling a little uncomfortable. The stares make sense. People creating distance between themselves and Ryken is understood.

I don’t like it.

Who he is hasn’t changed at all. He’s still the sweet-tempered, grinning little guy who loves others–and kindly tolerates those he doesn’t know.

His appearance is off putting. He didn’t try to catch this virus. It happened.

Watching people respond to him has opened my eyes to how I often evaluate others.

Looks influence. If a person is in some way pleasing to look at, it’s much easier to connect with them.

If there’s an obvious “problem” or special need, I may not respond as positively.

How shaming is that behavior?

417aece3-e098-4942-b202-19f5df95f7eaCulturally–to our discredit–we do marginalize those who don’t look and act “normal.”

My friend, Alexa, is 14 and one of the most genuinely kind and affectionate people I know. She treats everyone with equal graciousness. A young woman who knows how to love well.

She has Down Syndrome, not something she asked for, but a gift God gave her. He knew we’d need to see kindness acted out unconditionally. I’ve learned deeper respect and gratitude by being with her.

We’re all made in the image of God, created to reflect Him to the world. Not in the way we look, but in our character, personalities and heart responses to others.

Who we are is of greater value than how we look.

Appearance is fleeting. It can be marred by the vagaries of life.

A heart of true compassion that recognizes the value God has given all people?

I could cuddle up to that any day.







6 responses to “Is It Really That Bad?”

  1. The mindless (subconscious) part of our brain doesn’t respond well to something that feels abnormal. Our subconscious brain is just not always doing a good job of figuring out the world.

    It only takes a moment to think and reorganize the thought or emotion into something rational and act with kindness. But so many people just use their rational brain to build an excuse around the irrational brains reaction.

    It only takes a moment of thought to act in kindness instead of fear.


    1. SO grateful for this comment. You’re absolutely right–it only takes a moment to respond in kindness–a decision, not a reaction. I appreciate this–my rational brain often grabs control and won’t let go!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dayle- I’m Cindy Pittman, Ron’s wife – one of the “Wisconsin guys”. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your blog. Our families are very similar and I can relate to so many things that you write about. I laugh at your honesty sometimes and see myself in your real life scenarios. Sometimes I’m sobered by the way God is bringing growth through the joyful and the hard situations. So, just thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts. A Texas friend❤


    1. Oh, Cindy, I’m so grateful for your willingness to read my stuff! I’ve heard that there are over 2 million blogs posted daily–a lot of words from a lot of people. And the fact that you choose to read mine means a lot. I think God sobers us with the truth of our reality being the instrument of our growth–and I don’t always want that to be the case. I love easy. But I know myself well enough to know that easy doesn’t always grow me up. Thanks, my friend, for your encouraging words.


  3. Dayle, I agree with you on this that APPEARANCE is FLEETING and a HEART of TRUE COMPASSION that recognizes the VALUE GOD HAS GIVEN is WORTH pursuing!!! LOVE and Blessing!!


    1. If folks don’t get that, they’ve trashed all their mirrors. Appearance is fleeting! Value is only something God can truly give us. Value that lasts. Thanks, Lo.


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