Meet Justine. She’s a beautiful Australian mother with wonderful children and an overall healthy physique—upon first appearance at least.
But there’s something a lot of people don’t know about Justine. At the age of 35, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). She has good days and she has bad days, but for 7 long years, she’s been battling the disease that has been slowly crippling her life.
A person who just so happened to catch her on one of those few good days, decided to leave this note on her car whenever she parked in a handicapped spot.
In response to the rude question slapped shamelessly on her windshield, Justine decided to respond publicly on Facebook with a snapshot of the note and the following message:
“To person that left this on my car last week at Mitcham Shopping Centre- I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 35. Not just MS but the worst one that never goes away and is slowly crippling my life. My kids have had to deal with things that kids shouldn’t ever have to deal with and all of our futures are forever changed. On the day you saw me I was having a good day, I was walking with my daughter unaided having a nice day. Thank you for ruining that. You made me feel like people were looking at me, the exact way I feel when I can’t walk properly. I am sick of people like yourself abusing me on my good days for using a facility I am entitled to. A disability doesn’t always mean a person has to be wheelchair bound but lucky for you I one day will be. Right now my focus is to walk into my best friends wedding next September and not have to be pushed. I will be 42. Before you ruin another persons day remember you don’t know everything and just because you can’t see it it doesn’t mean a person isn’t struggling to put one foot in front of the other.”
The viral post has since acquired 85,000 likes, over 15,000 shares, and an influx of supportive comments from people empathizing with and defending the Australian mother:
She told The Age.“Because of my age, they look at me and they automatically presume I’m doing the wrong thing.”
What’s even more disturbing is that it happens to her all the time. Justine says people will literally wait by her car so they can chew her out for parking in a disabled spot with out any wheelchair evidence.
In fact, just the week prior, it happened 3 times consecutively at 3 different shopping centers.
“I can’t carry my own shopping, can’t walk long distance, I have the bladder of an 80-year-old,” she says.
But she’s judged on how she looks nonetheless. Society tells her she “looks” fine, so she needs to get her act together.
Justine gives us all the more reason to reflect on the damage we can do when we judge people by their external appearance. Wheelchairs don’t define disabilities just as physical appearance doesn’t define the mental state of a person.
There are people all around us with MS, Chrone’s, lupus, depression, anxiety, and more, that are being slowly eaten away on the inside as we sit back and assume their lives are picture perfect.
So err on the side of caution. Be nice just because. Be gracious just in case…and just because it’s what’s Jesus would do if he saw Justine.