We all have fears. Sometimes they consume us, sometimes they are good for us. But I do believe that all fears hold us back from something, and I would argue, most often times the best blessings. While fears are natural, one thing I have learned is to break through them and see what is on the other side. I have had many fears on this journey of life. From my marriage to being a mom to raising a child who has significant medical needs, a child with special needs, a Christian family in a world that is cold and has very different views than the Bible, to being a stay at home mom. I have encountered many fears in my life and I know I will continue to encounter them.
I will never forget the fear when we heard that we were in the high risk category for a child who may have Down syndrome, the fear that enveloped me when we heard our sweet baby had a heart defect and they could not detect a stomach. The fear of sending your child off to surgery multiple times, the fear in my heart when a lady approached me and said I needed to abort my baby because nothing good comes from a mom who is that large. Or the fear and anger when a doctor said I could wash my hands of my child and institutionalize her (that stings just writing it). These are all real fears, these are all things that I have encountered so far. I am sure as we continue this journey, there are going to be many more things, things that may sting even more.
However, if I was just consumed with these fears, I would miss the biggest blessings that God had planned for me. I would have been too scared to open my eyes and realize the rainbow on the other side of the fear. By trusting God, allowing Him to walk me through these fears, trusting that He has already conquered these fears, I have been opened to so much more. I have grown, I have faith that can move mountains, I have a daughter who is the light of my world, my other daughters are better because of Lydia, and I have strong marriage. The lessons that we have learned are numerous and oh so priceless. And I know that I am not done yet...that is the exciting part for me!
When I think about what makes Lydia so different from my other kids I think it is because she has no fears. There is nothing that holds her back. She is ready to explore at any moment, no matter what has been given to her she is ready to tackle it and she has a smile on her face. No matter what the mood is around her she is happy and waiting to make some one's day. To live your life with a child like faith and not let fear over take you, is what she has taught me. At the end of the day there is nothing else that matters. She loves without fear and that is something that is simply amazing. There are no strings attached, she is who she is. She does not mask that or cover it up. She is simply amazing! And because of that she challenges me every day to be a better person.
I remember when I was pregnant with Lydia we spent some time in St. Louis while my husband was working there. I remember visiting a museum and crawling around with the children. I remember getting stuck and just laughing for hours. I did not care, I was having fun. All of the worries of the world were so small, I was having fun with my children. I did not let my fears of what others would think cloud my judgement. It is still a moment that my other girls talk about to this day. On that same trip, I rode up to the top of the Arch. I am extremely claustrophobic. Especially when I am pregnant and not to mention how incredibly large I was. But I did it, I showed my girls I could face my fears. My husband was standing there holding my hand and cheering for me. I remember feeling totally on top of the world. To be able to get pictures with my girls at the top of the Arch was a big thing for me. I remember what it was like to face my fears, big or small there is such a blessing in it.
I do think that we as a society have clouded Down syndrome with many things that it is not. We have a perception that is totally false. When I hear parents talk about their child with Down syndrome, there is nothing but positive things. However, I hear things from the world like that couple is safe from have a child with Down syndrome, I am glad that it's their burden and not mine, I could never do what that family does, I am glad that my children are healthy...and the list goes on. Many of those comments have been said to us too, however, I just feel bad because it is fears that have prevented these folks from the blessing of a child like Lydia. It is their fears that have prevented them from growing and seeing what God has in store for them!
I really am not sure if I am making sense, but in my mind it does. There was a HUGE fear learning about Lydia. Mostly because of her medical issues and the Down syndrome just happened to be part of her. I am so glad it happened that way. We did not focus on the fact she had Down syndrome, we focused on her getting better. And she is who she is because she is Lydia. But the fears that were in my mind were huge. However, God had great plans. In making me face my fears I have found love and joy. I have a very strong family. I have girls who have learned about sacrifice, loving, caring, not judging others for what they look like (or what line or tube they may have in place!), things they would not have learned had it not been the fact we had to face our fears. I am so excited to see where they will go in life because they have learned this so young. I have a deep appreciation for who Lydia is and what she has brought to our family just by being her.
I think about how our fears can direct our lives. I think about how these fears can make us miss out on things. I would encourage you to face your fears and discover the blessings you are missing because of your fears. Are you scared because someone looks different than you, because they act different? Are you scared because you feel that person may be a burden when in fact they were given to you to learn and grow? Are you scared because you can't control the situation? Are you scared because you are walking a path of unknowns, or one you thought you never would?
God knows our every need, even ones we don't know yet. God knows exactly what we need. When we trust Him completely, life is beautiful. It is not going to be easy and we will have very difficult times, but He will be standing next to us helping us. He will grow us into the people He has created us to be...each one of us. Lydia may look a little different, may be a little slower at picking up things, but she is no less than me or you. She was fearfully and wonderfully made. She has feelings and emotions just like you and me. She is capable of many things so don't hinder her potential because of your own fears.
I can go on and on about what she is and how she has taught our family and how blessed I am. But as I sit and think about it, I really want to encourage everyone to face their fears. Lack of knowledge about what Down syndrome is, fears of not really knowing, false stereotypes are things that need to be faced and overcome. Lydia is important, she is no less than you or me. Be prepared world, she has great things planned for her. If you are too scared to discover the blessings of someone different she is going to walk right over you...nothing is stopping her! She is who she is and that is amazing! No one will tell her differently.