I often tell our members that they must understand that their birthday is not a national holiday.  One of the charming things about our members is that socially they are sort of stuck in junior high for most of their lives.  But there is a limit to the charm and for me the “birthday” thing is my limit.

Each of us have things which don’t sit quite right with some of our members.  However, isn’t that true about most sub-cultures.  Because I’m a Southerner, I well aware of the fact that we are looked on as slow.  My neighbor from New Jersey scolds me regularly because I often go barefooted.  In most sarcastic terms, I was told yesterday, “I can tell you’re a Southerner.  Only a Southerner would come outside barefooted in this cold.”  I laughed because I was taking out the trash early in the morning and I had no shoes on my feet.  It was 30 degrees. 

I’m familiar with one culture that–as a population–they all seem to be Type A personalities.  They play hard and work even harder.  Gregarious and bold, these folks don’t mind giving you their opinion about almost everything.  One day my husband and I were visiting an ethnic restaurant.  The waitress came up to us, smiling and happy.  My husband knew exactly what he wanted to eat.  In fact, we had come to this particular restaurant because it carried this certain dish. 

When he tried to give his order to the waitress, she said, “No.  You cannot order that.  It costs too much.  You must order from the list on the back.”  She turned over the menu and showed him the items that were on her approved list. 

“I want this,” he said forcefully, turn the menu back to his desired spot.

“No!” she insisted.  And the confrontation continued for several minutes until my husband made his point clear that he wanted the item that he had originally requested

Finally, I asked what city our waitress was from and I named her native country.  “How did you know I was from there?”  she asked, looking shocked that I would know her nationality. 

But what do you do with the peculiar knitch of circumstances that irritate you about our sub-culture–the mentally challenged community?  Like the birthday thing?  I would suggest that you don’t try to ignore it.  That is usually a recipe for hurt feeling.  Here is how I have come to resolve my feelings.

First, I admit my irritation to myself.  Second, I examine it.  I take my irate feelings out and place them beside the offense.  Then I ask, Is this offense really equal to my annoyance?  Almost without exception, the answer is that I am overly sensitive in this area.  Usually these two simple steps will help me to see that the frustration I feel is overblown at its best and silly at its worst. 

If a third step is needed, I tell another person about my pesky problem.  I’ve learned to be sure that my confidante is a good friend.  Because when I hear myself explaining the ire that this action engenders, I realize how inane the issue is. 

Understand that while we may realize that the frustration can and should be humorous, it probably is not to you.  The irritation is real.  The anger is a true emotion, even though it may be unjust.  Once you have faced your irritation, ask God to deal with it and with your feelings. 

In any endeavor for the Lord, it is the small things that often catch us off guard and may even spoil what God wants to do through you.  Song of Solomon says, “Catch the little foxes that spoil my vines.”  It is often the little things that are used in our minds and by the enemy to destroy our joy and effectiveness.

In the meantime, have a happy birthday!

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