This I Believe

Jessica - Oakdale, Minnesota
Entered on February 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: children

Looking back, it’s easy to realize what I should have seen when she walked through the door. I should have recognized her unquenchable curiosity, her fondness for adventure, or the simple joy that her boundless energy seemed to bounce around the room. But that’s not what I saw. And like so often tends to happen, I saw only what I believed to be true, and not what really was. Where I should have seen a three year old girl named London, I saw only the face of Autism.

My job as the nursery attendant at my church that Sunday had suddenly got a lot harder. A strong wave of judgments and stereotypes washed over me. I think most people hold these judgments without even realizing it, I was shocked by how easily I was capable of labeling someone. I had judged her before I even knew her name.

It’s been three years since the day I met London, and every Sunday since we’ve spent playing in the nursery together. I find it funny that someone so young has taught me so much. She not only defied every assumption I had about Autism, but proved to me the value and necessity of truly getting to know someone.

She has overcome many things for such a young girl. She spent months in the hospital after a failed liver transplant left her barely alive, and she has challenged every shortcoming that Autism has left her with. What’s most amazing, is that she is still the most effervescent person I know. Through it all, she still aspires to be a ballerina, loves to impersonate American Idol contestants, and thinks Jesus and Spiderman are best friends.

I am thankful that I know London because she has taught me that if you judge someone based on preconceived ideas, you are probably missing out. She taught me that no matter what life gives you, it’s up to you to make the best of it. If everyone took the time to get to know each other, to see the value that every person holds; this world would be a better place. Obstacles are overcome, attitude is everything, and judging someone is not only a misinterpretation of their worth, but an obstacle that our society can overcome. This I believe.