I want to introduce you to some new friends of mine, Mark and Bethany. I have known them for close to two year now. We have laughed together, cried together, ate together, sipped wine together, sang together, and poured out our stories together. We share a common bond in that they too are parents of a child who is severely disabled.
Their daughter is 10 years old and to this day no one has been able to give them a diagnosis for her disability. This means there are no support groups that they fit in, there are no other parents they can call to ask if something is normal or not, and they have slowly become isolated from almost everyone. While she goes to school no one invites her to their home and no one comes to visit her. They took her to a school concert one day and a parent of one of the other children asked them, “Why do you have to bring that to a concert.” Can you believe the audacity and stupity of that question? What made it even worse was Mark and Bethany were just celebrating how well their daughter was doing sitting still during the concert, only to get slammed once again.
Mark and Bethany felt alone. They realized they were in a vicious and downward spiral and determined they need to branch out and see if they could connect with someone so they decided to go to a community health fair offered by an agency called Advocates. This is where we met them. We listened to their story; we shared a little about ours, and gave them a brochure and invited them to check out David’s Refuge. Mark was leery so Bethany signed them up for a two night stay at David’s Refuge without Mark knowing it.
They came wondering if there was a catch, if we were trying to sign them up for Amway, or wanted them to drink a special batch of cool aid. What they experienced was hospitality, comfort food for the soul. As we loved on them with unconditional love barriers began to breakdown. Hospitality communicates unconditional love and it becomes a conduit for us to share our stories and to walk our journeys together. Mark started to relax. He slept on the hammock, he played his guitar, we ate dinner together, and Mark started to share his story.
A couple weeks ago Mark and Bethany had a chance to come back to David’s Refuge for a second weekend. Once again we offered them hospitality. This time the sharing was a little deeper. They shared their fear of once again trying to connect with people, wondering if they would ever be able to find someone who would simply listen and accept them for who they were. They were raw. Mark said he has never had someone to talk with about his daughter’s disability and the effect it has had on their marriage, their faith, and on them as individuals until he came to David’s Refuge. All we did was make ourselves available and vulnerable with our own story. We listened. We cried and laughed. The more vulnerable we were them the more vulnerable they were with us. And life change took place. Hope was born.