Have I always been open and inclusive of people different than me? I am sure that I would have argued with you that it was. I am sure that I would have said that I accepted all kinds of people and did not pass judgment, but really the only person I was fooling was myself. If I am totally honest, and that is what I intend to do in this post so I can see it in black and white, my mind never really became open until that situation that I judged became my reality. I feel that it is important for people to understand, but more importantly those of us walking a journey raising a differently-abled child!
I have walked by someone with a disability and thought man, I am sure glad that is not my fight. I have heard of someone who was diagnosed with cancer and the road never seemed to go anywhere but in a circle for the family and now death was staring them in the face. I have walked by a person in a wheelchair and thought I am glad I have sisters who are able to do "normal" things. I have walked by someone having a melt down and thought, control your child, that is so rude. I guess I am glad that other people are not in my head, there are not nice thoughts most of the time.
I am sure we have all had those thoughts. We judge before we know the situation, before we understand what is going on, before we are able to be in those shoes walking their life. How unfair is that? I have had that tendency my whole life, but I need to fight against it. I need to ask God to take my thoughts captive and be more loving towards everyone. After all He created all of us for a purpose and a plan. And I would say that it is not just a "disability" but anyone who does not look like me, does not act like me or does not think like me. Yeah, pretty small population that I don't judge; mainly me and my family.
It may seem like I am being crude here, but I am just being honest. I am sure that I am not the only person who, maybe out of fear, judged someone differently than me. I was uneducated and never took the time to educate myself, to surround myself with people who are different than me. For whatever reason I passed a judgment that was unfair. I looked down on someone when I should have been lending my hand out. I am sure someone can look at me and judge me just the same way. I am far from a perfect person. I have many more flaws than I do good points! I am human, I am a sinner.
So I was blessed with Lydia. We prayed for each of our children, we never found out boy or girl because it did not matter, we wanted a surprise. We prayed for a healthy child, but never considered the "unhealthy" child. When we found out that our baby may have Down syndrome, the shock came in. However, after a day or so, we were excited. We thought about how blessed we were. We really did not care what the diagnosis was because we would love our child no matter what. However, I think when we thought about a child with Downy syndrome; we never considered medical complications too.
We prayed and tried for a long time for our third child. We got pregnant. It was a mostly normal pregnancy until the end. I did not smoke, I did not drink caffeine, I did not drink, I exercised, I took my prenatal vitamins. I did everything the way I was suppose to. The fact is, a disability does not discriminate against anyone trying to have a baby. I strongly believe God gives us just what we need. Many of us don't know we need someone who is different than us or different than our expectations until we unwrap that gift.
The thing about life is there are no guarantees. I realize we all wish we knew what the future holds, but really all we have is faith to cling to. I have my hope in Jesus to carry me through each day. He is the only thing that is for certain in this world of uncertainty. I could get pregnant and lose the baby, I could have a perfectly healthy child, I could have a child with severe complications, I could have a child who has problems breathing. I also could have a perfectly healthy baby to find out later in life that there are complications, a car accident, cancer, a sudden death.
So what happens when that situation that you wished was not yours has now become your reality? What happens when your entire life turns upside down because you love your child, because you would do ANYTHING for your child? What happens when you have to lose everything to love your child, to take care of your child? What happens when you are that parent standing there while your child is breaking down and other people are staring at you? What happens when you are in the store and the little girl comes up to the cart and stares at your baby because they are on oxygen? What happens when that situation that you never thought you would deal with is your new reality?
I realize that no one will know what it is like to walk in my shoes, other than me. However, my point is that I thought that I was open minded and that I was accepting and inclusive. But I wasn't. I realize that now because of Lydia. A whole new world has been open to me. It is amazing how God works. It is almost as a new level of love has been shown to me. Not better, just different. I understand better and I see differently.
And I have seen that on this journey. I see the transformation of people who get to know Lydia, understand the medical side of things and see how their life is changed. It is one of the greatest blessings that I get to be part of. I can't describe it, but it is amazing. That is just one small part of this amazing journey. Fear, sadness, grief, anger, love, confusion, guilt are some of the emotions that were standing in my way of realizing this huge blessing. By educating and surrounding myself with people who are not me, I get to enjoy this journey God has placed me on. I get to learn and grow and most importantly I get to be a mom to one very amazing child and two other girls who are so much better because of her. They get it, they are learning things that cannot be taught, but must be experienced.
I wanted to remind you that a disability does not discriminate against people. No one is "safe" from having a child with some kind of complication; either at birth or some where in life. However, we can discriminate against the person because they are different, because we don't understand. Ask yourself the question, "Have I?" Make sure to do something about it if you don't like your answer!