• 66°

Answering the tough questions

Recently, I had an experience that caught me off guard and hurt me for a brief moment. Someone told me, after I explained my scars and what happened to me, that she would never want to be like me. I say brief because I dismissed the feeling quickly. I did not dwell on it. Instead, I prayed for the person who hurt me and felt genuine sympathy for her. Then, I released it. I know who I am and I know my story. Regardless of how other people treat me, I know that I am so blessed to be alive. And if given the opportunity, I would not trade my scars.

Having said that, this experience reminded me that there is a need for us to talk about these types of situations. While I am no expert, I do have many years of experience in dealing with this issue. I want to give others the insights on how it feels to talk about my scars. Then, you can decide on the approach you take in approaching others.

1. Before approaching anyone ask yourself this question. “If I was in their situation how would I want someone to approach me?” We should always treat others the way that we want to be treated.

2. Why do you feel the need to ask them questions? Is it because you genuinely want to know their story?

3. There is a right time and a wrong time to approach someone. If I’m having dinner with my family at a restaurant, I don’t want to talk about it. It is never okay to interrupt me when I’m interacting with someone else. Wait until we are leaving the restaurant. Ask to speak to me privately.

4. Accept their answer. Don’t keep asking the same questions over and over.

5. Always approach someone with a smile and kindness. It is NEVER okay to be rude to someone because they are different.

6. I always welcome conversations with people who want to know my story and then share their story with me. Those conversations are my absolute favorite. I LOVE them!

By now, I am used to answering these questions. I’ve stood on stage and talked about my scars to thousands of people. I’ve written several books about it and hundreds of blogs. Yet, I am human. Ugly, unkind words hurt us all. This whole experience has made me want to be kinder to everyone that I meet. I want my words to lift others up, instead of tearing them down. This is what I want to teach — kindness, love, and understanding of other people’s differences.

God gave me this story to share and I truly want to share it! I love and accept my scars and I want to tell everyone I meet about God’s love and mercy for me and my life. However, in order for me to share openly, I need to feel safe. When I feel as if I am being attacked, then I close up. I don’t want to share my story with people who reject it — who keep asking me the same questions over and over. I don’t like it when people touch my scars, without asking my permission. I’ve had people who actually hurt my hands, by trying to separate my fingers.

Above all, I know that I have to educate people on how to treat me. I have to be kind if I want to receive more kindness. I also know that I get to decide whether or not to answer the questions. I could have chosen to just walk away. Even though this particular situation was frustrating for me, I reacted with kindness — even though I was not treated kindly. While I can’t control how other people treat me, I can decide how I will treat them.

The ones who treat us the worst need our love and kindness the most.

Candida Sullivan is an author and inspirational speaker. She lives in New Tazewell with her husband and kids. For more information about her books or to schedule her for your event, email her at candidasullivan@yahoo.com.