Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"I went to the bachelor party!"

This past week, my son got married. It was a wonderful time. All of his friends were there which was one of the most fun aspects of the wedding, reception and events leading up to the wedding.

One of his friends is a man that my son has taken out for lunch many times. They call each other the "Chipotle buddies" after their favorite restaurant. Anyway, as I watched my son's friend Mark at the wedding, I couldn't help but reflect on the powerful statement his presence meant. My son, basically communicated to all who attended that Mark, a man with intellectual disabilities was worthy of his friendship. He was specifically invited to attend the wedding because he was a person of value to my son, and once again, worthy of friendship. I wonder how many of the people in attendance noted that he was there, asked why he was there (surely he was just someone in the family who had to come, not someone totally unrelated and simply a friend of the groom) and were perhaps surprised to find out who he was and why he was there.

It was fun also, because the night before we had a big barbeque/party at our house and Mark was once again invited to that celebration. He participated in the various activities of the evening, ate too much like the rest of us and stayed up late. In fact on both nights, he didn't get home till after midnight. He went around the following Sunday telling everyone that he had been to Josh's bachelor party. Although not entirely true, he was with all his friends and family.

Not to make too much out of this, but Mark as a 50 year old man had been invited to the first wedding of his life (see Wolfensberger 2000's wound #15) and had been given the socially valued role of "friend" at a wedding. But not just any friend, a friend of the groom who had been specifically invited by the groom to be at the wedding. Might be a small thing to you but this was a very big deal to Mark and to me as well. I wish more people with intellectual disabilities in particular, could experience the role of "friend of the groom" at a wedding.



  1. Anonymous4:11 PM

    I love this post. After learning about the 18 wounds that people with disabilities encounter in their lifetime, it was a lot easier to realize the "little" things in life that we can bridge the gap. I think that is great that your son made a emotional with Mark. Thank you for posting this blog.

    -Jacqueline Loomis

  2. Anonymous11:45 PM

    That's absolutely wonderful that your family has been able to embrace and love people with disabilities they way you have. As Christians we are commanded to love those around us and treat others the way we would want to be treated. I believe that many of us have given in to our selfish nature and that is what causes us to overlook people with disabilities or even give them the time of day. I wonder how many of us can say that we are friends with someone with a disability? Do we as Christians make the effort to make friends with someone who looks different than ourselves? I think our sinful nature leads us to act like we are somehow better than another person. Our judgemental attitudes can make us label certain individuals and make some more worthy and some not worthy of our time or friendship. Maybe we just need to stop and self-reflect on how we are treating those who come into our path, are we taking the time to love them and get to know them more personally. Are our actions saying that we value them or is everything in our life based on convenience to us? We definitely can work on loving people more fully the same way your son does with his friend Mark. We are all deserving of friendship and the fact that Mark has an intellectual disability does not make him any less worthy of being loved or fully embraced. We need to embrace these people with the same loving arms that God did because that is what God has commanded us to do!

  3. Amen!! What a beautiful story! What may seem insignificant to some people is an important lesson that we all have "disabilities" in some way or another but love (especially Christ's perfect love) only has abilities, and possibilities. From a "special needs" Mom...THANK YOU for sharing this heartwarming story. :)

  4. Bravo, Josh!

    James 2:1-9 tells us not to show favoritism between rich and poor, but the same is true for people who have intellectual/physical disabilities and those who don't. Josh learned from his dad that ALL people are worthy of love and friendship.

  5. Anonymous3:36 PM

    This is great to read about, especially after meeting Mark myself and hearing a little bit about his life. It also saddens me that for something as commonplace as a wedding- Mark has never been invited to one before now! Learning about the 18 wounds definitely gives me a new perspective on this kind of situation, I never even realized how often those with a disability are excluded from social norms. I'm very happy that Josh not only calls Mark a friend, but that Mark know how much he is loved by your family.
    -Candice Peters

  6. Anonymous12:11 AM

    This blog makes me smile from ear to ear. After studying various disabilities and gaining an understanding of the 18 wounds, I too feel joy for Mark and all who have given him the opportunity to enjoy life. Your son is a wonderful man who understands the importance of people and the value each person has in your life. Mark is a special guy (and not in a disability way either). He is funny and truly believes he is just as capable as anyone else. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet Mark and the other friends that came to our class. I believe that your family has made a significant impact on the lives of of many people, mine included. Thank you for the wonderful learning experiences and opportunites that i will be able to take with me and make a difference in someone elses life.

    -Colleen Linnenkamp

  7. Anonymous1:36 PM

    I’ve read that FRIENDSHIP is an acronym.
    F-faith R-respect I –integrity E- everlasting N- non-judgmental D-dependable S-selfless/sharing H-honor/hero I-important P- perpetual.
    What a heart-warming story of friendship and life! It’s the little things that mean so much; like a smile, telling someone hello or being invited to celebrate a wedding. And while that is true, we must also remember that something small to us is a huge event in someone else’s life. There’s a saying that goes “if there’s a need, want or desire all you have to do is “plant a seed and watch it grow”. I do believe the seed was unintentionally planted by Mark’s presence. The seed, ‘opening the eyes of love & understanding’ was planted during all the events in which Mark participated. In Mark 12:28-31, we are given the two most important commandments: And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ’[a] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. .’[b] No other commandment is greater than these. The memory of his presence at the Josh’s celebration will undoubtedly remain with at least one person. It may give them the push they need to strike up a conversation with someone unlike himself. We all must remember that getting to know a disabled person is a lot like getting to know anyone else. Take the necessary steps to become friends. Be honest, respectful and genuinely interested in the joys and needs of the other person. Enjoy becoming friends.
    ~Anonymous, 10/16/10~

  8. Bravo! I have the pleasure of knowing Mark fairly well and have met Josh a time or two. I appreciate the naturalness with which Josh included his friend in his wedding. There was no statement being made, it was just as anyone would expect it to be. You invite your friends to share the important occasions in life.

    Why are stories like this unusual, exceedingly rare? Why do we need to report them? Shouldn't Josh and Mark's relationship be an exemplar for all?

  9. Ashley D.1:33 PM

    Mark is a very lucky guy to have found a family who care about him as much as your family does. It so very sad that people who have disabilities often miss out on everyday opportunities that you and I may take for granted. Something as simple but as wonderful as attending a wedding, probably meant the world to him. It is so nice that your family works so closely with the disabled community and gives them the opportunities that they might not have had without your love and support. When Mark can to class we had a chance to get to know him and he is a very kind, and sweet man. I’m sure that the wedding he was the life of the party! He may have a disability but it has in no way has stopped him, or limited him from doing things for himself. It is important for people to understand that just because someone has a disability does not mean that they are any less of a person. Studying the eighteen wounds has helped me realize that people with disabilities are often discriminated against on so many different levels. They are also not given many opportunities based solely on their disability. This is unfortunate. It is important for people to understand that people with disabilities are people too and they should be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other person would be. Thank God for you and your family and your enduring love to help those in need of extra love and support!

  10. Anonymous9:49 PM

    It is often easy for us to overlook the impact that we have on others. Whether it is negative or positive the impact we have on the others around us is inevitable. I think that it is awesome that your son took in somebody that society would deem so different. Differences often push us away from one another rather than teach us more about ourselves because we are given a chance to see the world in a different perspective. Differences need to be embraced and we to learn not to judge a person through the lens of society. We should see each person as they are, an image of God just like you and me. We are all molded by the same hands, and given breath by the same creator. It is spectacular to hear that you have given your son the tools to make a positive impact on the lives around him.

  11. Jessica Head1:12 PM

    I love that Mark had such a good time! What I didn't think about after I met him was that it might be 'weird' for him to go. Your description of how people might think that he is just a member of the family who is obligated to go reminded me that it is not 'typical.' It truly is tragic that something so little like being invited to a wedding might never happen for someone purely because they have some sort of disability. This definitely reminds me of the 18 wounds: getting a good outfit NOT from a thrift store, being involved in something that others would treat as normal experiences, and the fact that no one at the wedding was being paid to hang out with him. He is a wonderful person and I am so glad that he had a great time!

  12. Brandi Williams2:00 PM

    What a great blog and experience for Mark as well as your family. It's refreshing to know that there are people in this selfish world that show love and compassion to those other than themselves and truly embrace others. We all can benefit from reaching out and providing others with and without disabilities opportunties to feel apart of something. This class has been an incredible experience and reminded me of how important it is to see the person rather than the disability and continue to embrace each others differences, for as God love, so should we....

  13. The McNair's are awesome! The love and friendship your family shares with people with disabiltiies have made a big impact in their lives. The smallest thing like being invited to a wedding can make a person feel loved and important. It's sad to know that at his age, Mark had never been invited to a wedding. I'm sure Mark had an awesome time at your son's wedding. Your son has learned great values from you and your wife, one being that every person is worthy of friendship. Thank you for teaching me great values as well, you and your family are huge inspirations.

  14. Wow! You've raised such a fine man. A few people like Mark enjoy such opportunities. Normally they are often at home, speaking to a few people. It is also so nice that a lot of you understand his situation. They do deserve to have fun and experience things, and that's why we hold big events like weddings and bachelor parties.