Maybe All Good Guys Don’t Look Like Me

One of the reasons I am most grateful for our wreck and my daughter’s paralysis is that it has put me in contact with many, many people whom I may have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I’m grateful.

As my husband says, “Through the wreck we have met the best of people and the worst of people.” I always add that the best of people we’ve met have been really, really darn good!

Through all of this we’ve met a lot of folks who don’t fit what we used to be.  Seriously. We used to be the poster family for Caucasian, Christian, able-bodied, rural-American, just-the-prescribed-number-of-children families.  

As Nellie Forbush would say in the musical, South Pacific, we were as normal as blueberry pie!

Now we are anything but normal.  When very, very few homes and even businesses are accessible, when you can’t enter whenever you want, and when you can’t enter through the same door as everyone else, or sit in the same seats as everyone else, you realize very quickly just how abnormal you are.

And for three years now, we have spent a large amount of time living in big cities.  If you could see the people with whom we hang out and talk to in Chicago, you would realize very quickly that most of them do not look or live like the Jaggers.  But I will let you in on a little secret. While I absolutely dreaded going to live in Chicago that first summer, now I absolutely enjoy the city. It’s not at all unusual for me to have a brief elevator conversation with an atheist, learn from a Muslim patient about orthotic devices, and share a laugh with an African American friend all in one day in the Windy City. And brace yourself: I have spoken to, and get along with, many people who do not always share my political views!  And I truly like and respect these people. My world has vastly expanded.

Is it fair perhaps to say, that all of us, no matter who we are or where we grow up, do so thinking we are the normal people, the ones who are in the right, the ones who have our ducks in a row, and truly the “good guys?”

What if we didn’t always think that we were 100% right?  Now please don’t go off the deep end with that, Dear Reader.  I’m holding onto a faith in Jesus Christ which I refuse to relinquish, and what if that faith is what allows me to reach out to others, see the good in them, and enjoy other human beings who don’t look and act like I do as opposed to just putting them in the “they aren’t like me camp?”  

And here’s something I’ve had to work through: the woman who paralyzed my daughter looks and fits exactly into my “categories.”  The person in this world whose decision has by far caused me the most heartache and utter despair, looks and lives pretty much like me (minus her child being paralyzed), while some of the kindest and most helpful people I’ve met along the paralysis journey don’t live or look anything like me!

So I’ll admit, I don’t view myself the same way as I did a few years ago.  I’m not nearly as good as I thought I was. Growing? Yes! Learning? Yes! Holding true in Who I believe?  Absolutely! Willing to give others in this world way more of a chance than I used to give them? You betcha!

And the irony is, this new improved perspective I have comes compliments of a horrible wreck and my daughter’s paralysis.

Huh.  Good coming from bad. Imagine that.

Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.