How Would You React?

 EmelieCreccoSuppose you are in a shopping center parking lot.  As you head to the store, you see someone pull into one of the handicap spots.  Then to your surprise a lively and pretty young lady who looks to be 19 or 20, jumps out of the car and heads to the store.  She obviously is the picture of health.  No crutches. No cane.  No limp.

What would you do?  Ignore it?  Call the police? Confront her?

Here’s what one person did.

They left a note.  It read.   “Shame on you, you are NOT handicapped. You have taken a space that could have been used by an actually handicapped person. You are a selfish young lady.” 

This happened to Emelie Crecco.  When she returned to the car after shopping she found the note and said “I was LIVID.”  Why?  Because this 20-year-old young lady has cystic fibrosis.  Emelie posted this incident on facebook with these observations.

“CF affects the lungs (as one of many organs in the body) because of this I have a handicapped sticker. I’m not one to “abuse” the sticker, meaning I use it when I’m having a “bad day” (some days it’s a little harder to breathe). Today was HOT so I needed to use my sticker. I was running errands all day around my town; I pulled into a handicapped spot and continued into the store.”   When she returned she found the note. Then Emelie says, “They clearly saw me walk out of my car, why not approach me? Not all handicaps are visible.”

Then she adds, “I would love for you to share this story. It would help spread awareness for CF, (and) it would help open people’s minds to what handicapped really is.”

I don’t know Emelie.  We’re not even facebook friends!  But I hope she doesn’t mind if I make another point in addition to increasing awareness of unseen handicaps like CF.

It’s the problem we humans have of incorrectly judging someone’s appearance. Or motives.  Or problems.

Jesus warns us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (Jn 7:24) While it is perfectly proper to make judgments based on truth, righteousness and scripture, judgments based on conjuncture are both improper and wrong!

Snap judgments based on appearance and circumstantial evidence can lead to false conclusions.  The Bible tells about a time when the apostle Paul was on the voyage to Rome and a Typhon shipwrecked their vessel on the island of Malta.  While building a fire, Paul picked up some wood and a snake fastened itself on his hand.  The natives saw it and said, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.”

However, Paul shook the serpent loose and he never suffered any ill effects.  Not even any swelling.  The people saw it and were amazed.  Then they changed their minds and decided Paul was a god!  (Acts 28:1-6).  However, both opinions were wrong!

Be careful of drawing conclusions about others based on your limited knowledge.  A person’s appearance.  Their facial expression.  Their clothes.  A tattoo.  Their skin color.  Their ancestry.  Or their mood on a given occasion.  “We take it for granted we know the whole story,” once said the singer Axl Rose.  “We judge a book by its cover and read what we want between selected lines.”  Or as the ancient philosopher Euripides put it, “Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves.”

The next time you’re ready to judge based on appearance remember Emelie Crecco.  And if you’re in Putnam Valley and see Emelie parking in a handicapped spot, smile and say “Hi.”  She’s probably having a rough day. And she could use your encouragement.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

12 Comments

Filed under Judging

12 responses to “How Would You React?

  1. Bill Hood

    Thanks for a very practical lesson with a great real life example, Ken! I have been ultra-sensitive to this very thing, apparently healthy people parking in “Handicapped Only” spaces, since brother Don Galloway lost both his legs above the knees. While I have not acted on any of the “apparent violations”, I have had ill feelings and thoughts in that direction. This Post is a valuable help to me.

  2. julie davidson

    bro Ken…thanks for sharing Emelie’s story…i must say, i’m guilty of mis-judging people w/out “obvious” handicaps, when they use those parking spots…i won’t be doing that anymore!! have a JOYOUS day! in His love, Julie

  3. Ken, As the previous writers observed and as you so aptly stated in your article people react without knowing the whole story. MY daiughter in law has had a heart transplant since Aug 1993. As a result she has a handicap tag. She may look the picture of health, but as stated “one doens’t know the whole story.” The same is true of some in the Bible as your example in Acts 27. Some people in rellgious error are sincere in their beliefs, but when the truth is pointed out they change as did Paul, Apollos. Before we jump to conclusions that a person in error is too stubborn to be taught we need to try to teach them to find out. As most gospel preachers know, that is the case at time. Some people do have open hearts and really want the truth. Just give them a chance to clarify.

  4. Thanks for this post! As one of those who does not ‘look’ disabled I have not even asked for my permit to park in those ‘special’ places…just because of the fear & condemnation like Emilie experienced. Most of it comes from inside my own family! I live in a part of the country where we have what I like to call a ‘bootstrap’ mentality. Meaning we need to ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get over it’. But that is not the point of this post-so, I’d like to say something about looking at this from the OTHER side as well. Emilie says she was LIVID-and yes, what was done to her was NOT nice. But..wasn’t she jumping to anger uneccesarily as well? She doesn’t know who wrote the note-(which I’ll say again, was WRONG!). But perhaps that person has had experiences in the past seeing healthy people park in those spots-leaving no room for someone in a wheelchair-we don’t know THAT whole story either. I once saw a mother with an obviously disabled child hobbling across a TARGET parking lot in the rain because all the disability parking slots were taken-some without the special stickers displayed. I guess I’m just saying-let it go…don’t jump to anger, jump to prayer! Jesus tells us to pray unceasingly. If we could ALL learn to cut each other some slack when we don’t know the whole story♥ Next time-if you suspect something wrong going on-call the authorites-let THEM check it out. My son & a friend did…after watching a man pull into a disabled spot, (without a sticker) go inside the restaurant-(they figured he was just doing a quik take-out pick up). When he hadn’t come out again after 30 minutes they called police. They then watched the man come running OUT of the restaurant when he saw the police writing him a BIG citation for parking where he did illeagally! Now that guy was LIVID!, and I bet he’ll think twice before doing so again. I’m really sorry Emilie had this whole episode happen to her, (especially that she’s got CF!) but if we & she can ALL learn something from it, then it wasn’t in vain. God wastes NOTHING, this is all part of lifes lesson in that our FIRST reaction should be ‘take it to the Lord in prayer’:) Blessed day everyone!

  5. Hello Ken… another great article!!! When Jesus stated, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” It is best understood with the meaning of, “Do not judge according to appearance (only), but (also) judge with righteous judgment.” Jesus is teaching us that appearance alone doesn’t always tell the whole story. One’s appearance may say a lot in order to make an accurate judgment, but if that is only basis you use for your judgments, you may get things miserably wrong. Be careful, be thorough and be accurate before you cast a judgment you may regret!!! Thanks again for a thought provoking article!!!

  6. Betty rhodes

    Hey Ken,
    This one hits home with me as well, since I have fibro and suffer extreme fatigue from it – somedays much worse than others. I don’t walk with a limp anymore thanks to awesome knee and hip transplants, but I use my sticker because of the other – less obvious problems. It is so easy for us to be judge and jury all day long. What is the point. That type of anger is not Christian nor healthy. If we want to question someone, we should – but at least wait for an explanation. Always, God is in control and particularly if we are Christians, He is watching over us all day and all night long.

    Love you guys!

  7. Don Elliott

    Just because the car has a tag or plate for handicapped parking does not give the driver the right to use the spot. The handicapped person must be in the car. When I last renewed my handicapped tag I had to walk four blocks since the few marked spots were taken. Also, my first year here when we had a big snow they pushed all the snow off the parking lot into the handicapped spots.

  8. janice

    Back when I was in my 20s I had a great friend who was in her early 30s. She had lost her husband to leukemia and had 2 young children she was raising. She had terrible arthritis….her hands were gnarled up and her toes as well, and she was in excruciating pain ALL the time. At that point, she had already had several joint replacements…..But this person was ALWAYS in a positive happy mood. One day I went with her to the grocery store to help her do her shopping. She parked her car which had been modified for someone with her disabilities and we were laughing and talking as we headed in to the store. There was an older couple who was walking in about the same time as us who kept turning back to give us dirty looks. IF they had really looked at my friend, it was obvious she was limping somewhat and upon a good look you could see all the disfigurement. I think they chose to see only that we were young and were happy. As we got close to the door I could overhear them muttering how terrible we were for parking where we did. It flew all over me and I approached them and whispered in their ear, “If you would only stop and realize that my friend is severely in pain and handicapped” you might realize she can barely get herself in to the store and had every right to park where she did. They turned around and took a good “stare” and realized I was right and mumbled an apology. I was hot with anger, but my precious friend looked at me and said, “I am used to it and you just need to let it go or it will eat you up.” She was the forgiving one and I sure learned a valuable lesson that day. I miss by dear friend who ended up with multiple replacements and in her last years was bedridden. Even then, she was always in such a happy mood and could teach us all many lessons.

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