Many years ago when I was a “Thirty Something,” a sales manager, whom I supported technically, came in one day very upset. I pressed him and he shared that his wife was pregnant. They learned through some test that their child would require special care since it would be autistic or have Down Syndrome. That conversation, under any circumstance, is difficult. What do you say when your own child is healthy and you are thankful it isn’t you on the other side of the table? How can you even imagine the road ahead and what good could come of it. All you might see is a dark road ahead and that the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.
I know because one of my aunts raised two special needs children. Their dreams and plans for the future were altered once the first child was born and then when the second came, I can only imagine the thoughts that go through a couple’s head who see their sibling’s lives bloom with their children and knowing that life for them would be different. It would only be natural to curse God and say “why did you do this to me, to us??????”
But God doesn’t call the faint of heart. Jesus didn’t warn us about harming his children for no reason. Every life is special, from the cripple, to the disease laden, to the mentally challenged or the possessed. These cast-offs were His beacons. These were His lights in the darkness which He sought out to glorify God with. However, no matter how many miracles Jesus performed, it was never enough to prove that this light in the darkness was sent from God.
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, “assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”
“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed rather than having two hands or two feet and to be cast into the everlasting fire. And, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes and to be cast into hell fire.”
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in Heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in Heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:2-10 NKJV)
I am an impatient person, selfish for most of my life and have mostly listened to the radio station: “what’s in it for me?” But when I see parents of special needs children, my heart yearns to understand the love that looks past it all and embraces the gift which God gave them. These are the earth-bound angels that have been called and they just don’t know it.
I can only look with awe when I see parents’ eyes sparkle as they gaze upon their children with a love that transcends their circumstances and an innocence that is so easy to see but not within my grasp to comprehend.
True, I have survived my own trials and have crawled out from the depths of despair, but this is different. These parents are nurturing warriors in spirit, they have earned my respect. They are the elite among us for reasons many of us will never understand.
Yet, some would pity them, some would whisper among themselves, privately of course, and blame them for even bringing this child into the world if they had the foreknowledge of this condition, however diagnosed.
However, it was God who gave them a seed. All they did was till the soil, pull the weeds, fertilize and defend it with love so they would bloom. Each one of us were given seeds, what are you doing with yours?
I can give you two examples.
Pheobe Kochis has Down Syndrome and her dream is to be a dancer, and she is. A dream her parents did not stifle due to her condition. Her innocence was captivating when she auditioned to be on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” While her skills did not meet her peers who auditioned, her heart’s desire could not be squelched. This desire did not go unnoticed and the show’s producer granted her wish. She danced for the world in her way during the show’s finale without abandon. How many of us have had our kids on TV showcasing their heart’s desire without abandon………..?
Well her parents, who many may have pitied in the course of their lives, were blessed to see their daughter given her 15 minutes of fame.
Kodi Lee is blind and autistic. At an early age his parents realized his gift was music. His key to his dreams and escape from what we consider his prison. But his musical gift transports Kodi into another dimension. Similar to stepping into the river, where time stands still for me, I am catapulted into another world.
Based on his accounts, his world is great. It’s his world, his mother and family, through the many trials, have nurtured that spirit. When Kodi sang his rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the lyrics came alive in a way I never heard before. I was catapulted into a world of music that propelled me to listen endlessly. I could not get enough because there was a chord that touched my spirit that confirmed what I have always said that God is real and He has hidden some of the world’s greatest treasures in some of the most unique places.
Only God could produce something this beautiful, however, this would not have been possible without his nurturing warriors tending the soil and encouraging these precious seeds to grow and defending the soil from which they grow.
Kodi and Pheobe touched my heart, but more than that, watching their parents’ guide them and encourage them to go for it in spite of their challenges, teaches me what “love without abandon” is. The same Love God has for me.
You see I have just as many challenges as Kodi and Pheobe, but to the world mine are normal and easily overcome.
God knows they can be just as debilitating as Kodi’s or Pheobe’s, but God also encourages me not to give up, pursue my dreams and let that pursuit unlock the treasures inside of me. Thank God I am alive to do this.
Kodi won “America’s Got Talent” competition for his gift of music. You just have to listen to him to understand. Notably, third place went to a hilariously physically deformed comedian who calls himself “The Cripple Threat.” These are all stories of hidden treasures unlocked by loving parents who would not allow their challenges to hold them or their children back. They did not take the world’s pity and many times advice.
Advice, what advice? There are certain circles that would say we shouldn’t bring these children in this world because it is a cruel place for them to grow up. It wouldn’t be fair to them. These people are self-serving and try to convince, otherwise nurturing warriors, that the path is too hard.
Don’t quote me but a recent court case in Ohio stopped doctors from performing an abortion if, now get this:
Ohio enacted the Anti-Discrimination Law, H.B. 214, to counteract such eugenicist practices concerning the prenatal Down Syndrome population. The law prevents a physician from performing an abortion when the physician knows the abortion is sought not because the woman did not intend to become pregnant, but because the child in the woman’s womb tested positive for Down Syndrome.
While this is win, it also points out that there is a war against life. Even based on this there is a fine line between life and death. All a women has to say is that the pregnancy is unwanted and voila problem solved.
This is not an enlightened view, but one I am afraid is dripping with gloom, death and evil.
Going back to my conversation with the sales manager, I asked what are you going to do? “We are trying to decide if we should continue the pregnancy. The doctor said………”
I remember the pain in my gut when I realized what all this meant. His wife and he were going to have an abortion because life wouldn’t be fair to the child and probably to them. Their lives would have gone in a direction they didn’t want.
Seeing Kodi, Pheobe, and the Cripple Threat Ryan Niemiller brought this memory back to me. I bet the last thing these parents ever thought was that they would see their children on live TV applauded by millions and coined winners.
God Loves you, I love you and there is nothing you can do about it.