What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by Mallory.
My name is Mallory. I'm a 19 year old college student that lives in North Carolina. I have had a life full of medical issues, including 19 surgeries. I live in a small town and it was during my teenage years that I was forced to come to terms with the fact that the smaller the town is, the faster the gossip flies.
I want people to know that being Christian isn't a free pass to do or say hurtful things to other people and then think you're still a good Christian because you asked God to forgive you. I want people to know that Christians aren't always nice. I, along with my family, was ostracized from my church at the age of 14 because kids in my youth group and the adults that led the group began spreading rumors about me, such as that I was faking my seizure disorder for attention. The fact that kids were cruel was expected; after all, I was in high school, but adults hurting me was something unknown. After one particularly brutal afternoon during practice with the teen band that I was involved in, I called my mom in tears, asked her to pick me up, and I never went back. It's been almost 5 years, and I still haven't been back to a service at that church (the only church in our town) because I no longer feel welcome there.
It took a long time for me to forgive all of those hateful people, but eventually I did. And I want people to know that no matter the circumstance, God can help you to find it in your heart to forgive people, even if that seems completely impossible in the beginning.
I want people to know that going to church isn't what makes you a Christian. In fact, there's a quote I love that I found on Facebook that says "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car."
I want people to know that judgment hurts. Christ asks us to face each other with love and truth and peace. The body of Christ is supposed to be welcoming, not a body that turns away someone who doesn't fit the "mold."
Lastly, I want people to know (and I speak with experience on this) that most people with disabilities would rather you come up and ask questions (with kind curiosity) than stand back and stare like they have three heads. We don't bite...any more than a regular old healthy person, anyway. ;)