Tomorrow I open my classroom door for another year. I will welcome six pre-school children with disabilities of various types into school for the very first time, and I’m excited. When I see those little faces, I want my face, my body language, and my voice to say “Welcome! I’m so excited you are here!”. They need to know that. Their parents need to know that.
Many parents and families of children with disabilities don’t experience excitement when they arrive. They spend their days apologizing for their children and often feel shame for behaviors, tantrums, broken heirlooms, and busy kids. There are so many things that can go “wrong” when a child with special needs enters someone else’s space. Words and actions are misunderstood, judgement abounds, and it can be exhausting. These families feel tolerated, not welcomed.
And no one wants to feel tolerated.
The mindset of tolerating others can poison relationships. Our world could really benefit from everyone being the type of person who truly embraces hospitality.
And not the Martha Stewart hospitality. There are no fancy napkins and elegant desserts required to be a host. You don’t even need to have a home.
You just need space. I confess that my mind does not always offer space to others. I am usually distracted by my own thoughts, anxiety, or schedule. When people come over, I am usually more concerned with the cleanliness of the carpet than I am the openness of my heart. When I am with others, I am often lost in thought of what to do next or my ever expanding to-do list. I do not practice hospitality well.
And I want to. I want to have the freedom to let go of my thoughts and my desires and my fears and look at the person I am with and say “I’m glad you’re here”. I want to give my space to people who matter. My home is always open to people, but my mind and heart are not. It’s difficult to turn off our minds and truly welcome others in. I don’t want to tolerate people anymore.
So, this school year, I will be a “welcomer.” I will turn my own brain off when people enter my space, look at them, think about them, and let them know that I am glad they are here. I am not tolerating them being in my space or taking time away from me, I am embracing it, and enjoying it, and learning from it. I want to do that for my family, my colleagues, my friends, and my students. I am hoping that by writing this, I will encourage others to open their space, stop tolerating, and start embracing.
Welcome to my space. I am so glad you are here.
Kacy Davis lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, Collin. She is a special education teacher and advocate of those with special needs and loves her job. She spends her time riding bikes with her husband, running, reading, and enjoying those she loves. Kacy believes in reinventing what it means to be a woman and wife who loves the Lord and longs to help others learn to love the Lord with abandon, freedom, and a greater understanding of grace. She writes here.
Wow! what an amazing lesson for all of us………..I have been feeling especially “intolerant” this week. I love you.
So grateful for the warm welcome you will provide your students and their families…it is far too rare an experience sometimes for those with disabilities. Thank you for your heart and for opening it wide to those coming in your doors this week…
Your welcoming heart is much like my own! I’m so grateful you see the deeper need parents of special needs children have for experiencing your welcoming heart. In a world where nonconformity is often not appreciated & judged , how blessed they are to find an accepting, safe & welcoming environment in your classroom & heart! May God strengthen & encourage you by His grace, to continue to warmly receive those He brings to you. In that day, as all who are called by His name enter into His presence, an even more perfect “Glad you are here” will resound! Praise God!