If you could give your child a magic pill that would remove that extra chromosome, would you do it?
To tell you the truth, when my Christina was born, and I found out shortly after her birth that she has Down syndrome, I felt like I’ve been swallowed by darkness, and my only exit seemed to find THE CURE for Down syndrome. I was determined to make Christina “right, perfect and normal.” I was on a mission.
For the first year all I did was cry and every day grief knocked me over, and when I wasn’t crying, I was in front of the computer asking Google how to cure Down syndrome. I actually found some cure…or so I thought…something that was done in Mexico with side-effects that could result in death…oh my!!! Then I had this great idea to have surgery on Christina’s eyes, so they wouldn’t be so slanted anymore. Oh, by the way, I never had that surgery done on her. That thought was just part of my initial craziness to find THE CURE for Down syndrome.
But the bigger question is: Why do we always want to change everyone else and mold them into what we think is perfect, right and normal? Where are we getting our standards from? I wanted to change Christina because of my own ignorance, because of my believe that only smart and beautiful people are loveable and acceptable. Again what were my standards about beauty and intelligence? Where did I get them from? The Media? Teachers? Peers? Family? Friends? I thought Christina’s “defect” was a sign of a fallen and sinful world. How silly I was! The only sin here is how we respond towards someone who is different from us and how we treat them. Do we accept and love them just the way they are, or do we mistreat and reject them? Do we help or neglect them? Do I see and accept my little precious Christina just the way she is or do I see only her diagnosis?
As the years passed, I realized that I had to die to an old part of myself, a part that thought only productive, articulate, smart and beautiful people are deserving of love. I gave up trying to change Christina. I came to terms that it was impossible to extract that extra chromosome from every cell of her body, to change her entire molecular structure. I finally admitted my helplessness and stopped fighting with God, and accepted that God is sovereign no matter the situation. I read an Amish Proverb once, and it said:”God won’t lead you where his grace can’t keep you.” I began working on ME, and when I started to change ME, my pain and grief over my child born with Down syndrome disappeared. I also realized that shared intellect doesn’t matter all that much, that Christina would come alive in ways that are different from mine. But what began to matter was her presence and her love.
Life does not receive value according to what we can produce, or what academic degrees we have or how beautiful we are, but how much we can give and love and how much compassion and grace we can extend to those who are different from us.
None of us are perfect. We are human, and we are learning what it means to be compassionate and really love someone. We are given the chance to understand victory in Christ.