A Disability Doesn’t Always Mean A Wheelchair
Oftentimes, it can be very easy to make snap judgements. But we need to be aware that when jumping to conclusions, we may be missing the full picture. For example, disabilities come in all different types, and aren’t always discernible at first glance. So there are lots of handicapped folks who wind up getting harassed for using the designated parking spots intended for them!
Credit: The Age
Sadly, this is something that happens to Justine, a 41-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis, all the time, based upon how she looks. Her disease is progressive, and while it started with numbness in her hands and feet at 35, it has progressively gotten worse. She says,
"It's difficult, every day it gets a little bit harder. I can't do zips up, can't do buttons up, probably won't be able to drive soon and lose a bit more independence, unfortunately."
Credit: The Age
But when folks see a young woman like Justine pulling into a handicapped parking spot, they automatically assume she is doing something wrong. And in their effort to shame the “offender,” they are actually badgering the very community they are trying to protect!
Justine has run into this time and time again. And after a fun outing with her daughter was ruined upon finding a nasty note on her windshield, she finally took to Facebook to express her dismay. She’s not trying to drum up sympathy. Rather, she hopes that her plight may help make generate awareness, prompting others to think before they act. In her post, that has since gone viral, she says,
“To person that left this on my car last week at Mitcham Shopping Centre - I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 35. Not just MS but the worst one that never goes away and is slowly crippling my life. My kids have had to deal with things that kids shouldn't ever have to deal with and all of our futures are forever changed.
On the day you saw me I was having a good day, I was walking with my daughter unaided having a nice day. Thank you for ruining that. You made me feel like people were looking at me, the exact way I feel when I can't walk properly. I am sick of people like yourself abusing me on my good days for using a facility I am entitled to. A disability doesn't always mean a person has to be wheelchair bound but lucky for you I one day will be. Right now my focus is to walk into my best friends wedding next September and not have to be pushed. I will be 42. Before you ruin another persons day remember you don't know everything and just because you can't see it it doesn't mean a person isn't struggling to put one foot in front of the other.”
Justine’s post has generated messages of support from all over the world. And we pray that by her story being spread, it will help debunk the common misconception that handicap spots are only for those who use a wheelchair. And may it serve as a reminder of what we’re told in Matthew 7:1 -- “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
Justine is not alone. Read about a man with Crohn’s disease who encounters the same problem regularly!