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From a mother’s heart

Please take time to read a message from a mother’s heart, my heart. I hope this post somehow reaches the community business leader who is a regular customer of the Cracker Barrell convenience store located at Hwy. 51 South in Brookhaven who stood in line recently to purchase a newspaper.

Sir, you were standing behind a young man who suffers silently with a traumatic brain injury, deteriorating spinal conditions, difficulty walking and standing for short periods of time, and a multitude of other health conditions — the cause of which was not from his own choices.

You were standing behind a young man who once was an honor student and a picture of perfect health, with plans to become an engineer, take pride in working hard to achieve a successful career, experience the fulfillment, confidence and pride of that hard work, continue his passion for hunting, fishing and golfing, volunteer in his community, make a positive contribution to society, help others, be adventurous and travel our great nation, have financial independence, buy a home, marry and have a family of his own.

You were standing behind a young man who now lives in daily chronic pain, struggles to find the right words, is limited to lifting 10 pounds or less—despite his physical stature and strength, struggles to accomplish daily tasks that most take for granted, can no longer do the things he used to do and cannot do the things he wants to do.

You were standing behind a young man, who at the age of 10, had a choice between summer plans to go on a church mission trip or stay and play in a city league baseball game when his team unexpectedly qualified for the championship. Without influence or prompting, he chose the mission trip because at the young age of 10 he had the wisdom to know and say that in 30 years he and others would remember the life changing difference made in people through sharing Jesus and not the baseball game.

You were standing behind a young man who is constantly and painfully aware of his limitations and changes throughout the past decade.

You were standing behind a young man who did not fit your mold for success in ability or appearance.

You were standing behind a young man who decided to purchase a snack and rid himself of the loose coins he had accumulated.

You were standing behind a young man whom you chose to judge, publicly degrade, and devalue by asking “Son, do you mean that at your age you cannot count change?” In that moment, you chose not to apply kindness, patience, compassion and grace. Instead you chose to purposefully bully, publicly humiliate, degrade and devalue another human being, which speaks volumes of your lack of character and integrity, and the emptiness in your soul.

You were standing behind a young man who calmly turned to you and responded, “Sir, you have no idea the daily disabilities I struggle with.” Then, after a few moments, you decided to place the newspaper back in the rack and walk out the door, without even a simple apology.

You were standing behind my son, Warren Ashmore. I am thankful and proud that in that moment Warren chose to be a better man than you as he demonstrated self-respect, calmness, grace and mercy. Honestly, as his mother, I doubt I could have done the same had I been standing there.

I have considered your unconscionable actions and what my response should be. I have also reflected on the demeaning words of an insurance clerk to my son at a local health care facility, as well as the judgmental words said via phone to me by a local prominent rental property owner who thought it was his God given duty through his false sense of superiority and entitlement to instruct me about my son, not knowing who he was speaking with or our situation.

Yesterday, my response became clear—I choose to show you all undeserved grace and pray for you. I pray that you and yours never know the feeling of loss, pain and suffering my son struggles with every day of his life; are treated with kindness and shown mercy and grace in your most vulnerable moments and times of need; never know what it is like to be a person trapped within a broken mind and broken body; appreciate and realize the value of a healthy mind and body with the ability to achieve all your desires of family, career, travel and success; do not know the pain of a parent as they watch their adult child struggle daily with little relief in sight; that your hearts are changed and you become sincerely compassionate, kind and humble people who realize that “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Thank you to those in our community who genuinely care, are encouraging, demonstrate kindness and patience, and do not smile to our faces and whisper behind our backs. Thank you to the clerk at the Cracker Barrel store for always being patient and for your kind words to my son, especially on that particular day. Thank you to the customer in the store who was observant and reaffirmed my son for his response and expressed her disappointment in and the inappropriateness of the unapologetic business leader.

To others who face limitations, may not fit into society’s definition of success, beauty or value, are shunned or treated unkindly—please remember that success is defined differently for each of us and that you are perfect, accepted, beautiful, valued and worthy because our God, your creator, says so.

I am sharing this post with Warren’s permission. It is his way of having a voice to bring awareness to “invisible” medical conditions, encouraging others to know they are valued, to choose joy and not give up, and sending a reminder to always be kind and compassionate — everyone is going through something and has a story, a testimony, you often know nothing about.

Warren wanted the messages below to be clear to readers:

• It is important to always be kind to others. Kindness costs nothing. It is a choice, not a feeling.

• People with illnesses, limitations or vulnerabilities, or who just don’t fit society’s mold are valuable human beings who deserve respect, and should never be bullied, mistreated or judged.

• If you are bullied, take up for yourself. It can be done without a rude response.

If you would like to encourage Warren along his journey or during his upcoming surgery, please mail cards to P.O. Box 4000, Brookhaven, MS 39603 or email him at warrenashmore2911@gmail.com.

— Cindy Moore, Brookhaven