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  • Katie Smith

Suspicious Syndromes

The word syndrome typically insights serious, systemic problems that must become absorbed and altered to create a "new normal" in one's lifestyle. There is not a solution to syndromes; they are simply a characteristic pattern of behavior, circumstances or trends. As such they must not be seen through the eyes of solvers, but adjusters.

My sweet second son was recently told he may or may not have a "syndrome" that we were not previously told about at birth. Poland Syndrome really has no bearing on Levi's immediate future, but the mere assertion of a disorder makes a mother's ears perk up and take notes. Regardless of whether the pronouncement will stand the test of time matters not; it is the strength he has already achieved that brightens the darkness of diagnoses. If we allow setbacks to situate our stance, they will spin us into a web of suspicions much like the disparities of our current culture.

The "new normal" syndromes surrounding our world today seem ignited by suspicions that cause offenses. Whether to wear a mask or not, whether to use specificities with ethnic groups or not, whether to adhere to home instead of school or not, our world is drowning in doubts. We are suffocated by assumptions and judgements upon one another, and the aftermath creates systemic syndromes of anxious isolation.

Staff writer, Greg Morse wrote an amazing article recently entitled, "Seeing the World in Black and White, How much do assumptions divide us?" After initially assuming racism on the part of another because of his skin color, he began to chew on the pressure stemming from suspicions grounded only in misinterpretations. Morse maturely analyzes our cultural syndrome as he says,

"Defective motives lurk behind every interaction. Suspicion feeds suspicion; the web tightens the more you roll around in it. Soon, you become suspicious of even your previously positive relationships with others. You are tempted to grow angry or tired with those who can’t see what you see to the degree to which you see it. You may become divisive to fellow believers and absurd on social media. This becomes to you the all-important issue." (

How we adjust our eyes is critical if we want to climb out of the web we keep spinning. I remember when a little boy commented that little Levi looked "funny" when he was about 2 years old. His mother on the playground was beyond bashful after the remark, but I was struck with the question of what dictates offensiveness? When young children speak their minds in innocent curiosity we follow Proverbs 19:11, "A person's wisdom yields patience; It is to one's glory to overlook an offense." But when a knowledgeable adult remarks in ignorance we cast them aside like waste.

Have we lost the purpose and pleasure of grace? We desire width and breadth to err on the side of innocence until proven guilty, yet we forget to extend that width to others. Motives are misleading, and none of us knows the thoughts and true feelings of another. Sadly even Bible believers are casting a net that hurts Christ's business of redeeming grace. We are getting caught in the web of suspicions with everyone else, and our syndrome seems contagious.

Rather than succumb to the sticky substance left by spiders, we must surround ourselves with that which is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy and the like, filling our heads, our eyes, and our ears with such things. If we adjust our lense to see the world like an innocent child, maybe we can find a "new normal" that is even better than what we thought the past proved. Those who actually suffer with some of the greatest syndromes in this world seem to remember the perfect childhood adage best: Treat others how you would have them treat you (Matthew 7:12). Always assume grace first.


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