People say there is more awareness in our society today, more tolerance for those who are different.
I hate the word "tolerance."
STRONGLY DISLIKE IT.
Allow me to define the word, "tolerate:" "accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance (self-control); to put up with, bear, stomach, deal with."
Tolerate and tolerance are not good words when used for people. Tolerance...tolerating people...in my opinion, should not be something we try to practice in the body of Christ.
I'm just sayin'...would YOU like feeling that other people have to "stomach" being around you? That they are enduring the time they have to spend with you? Not me.
Last year, I talked to a mom of a young child who has Down Syndrome. She shared some of the things they are going through with school, and y'all...the school days are just hard days. Or they were for us. Home-work, therapies, doctor appointments, IEPs, teacher conferences and WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO HARD?
It's hard enough already.
The school work was hard. The social situations were hard. Wondering if we were doing any of it right was hard. Wondering why everything seemed like a fight. Hard. I remember those days...when I would pray all the way to school...and pray during the day, and wonder how things were going...was he safe...was he sad...was he liked...was he keeping up? Was he lonely? Kept me on my knees.
And, at the end of the day, I would sit in my car and breathe a prayer. I hoped there would be "good notes," and that I would hear positive things. And then I would take a biiiig breath, and walk into his classroom to get the re-cap.
Because we...as a society...spend a whole lotta time trying to get these kids (and adults) to fit into the molds we have...because that is what we think is best. For them, and for all of us. And maybe it is. Because it seems wrong to let them maybe take a different path...because we want to bring them along with the rest of us, and help them to fit in...with us.
When maybe they weren't met to fit in.
Maybe none of us were.
I don't know.
Maybe...we should try to fit in...WITH THEM. Hmmmm...think on THAT a while.
Because Joshua and his friends? They are so precious and unique. They are interesting. They are compassionate, thoughtful and creative. They love big. They are pure in heart...innocent, trusting, and vulnerable.
I am very thankful for the teachers, therapists and other professionals in Joshua's life, who knew what to do and how to do it. They thought clearly for him, when my mind was clouded by emotion. Most of them did not "tolerate" Joshua, but, instead, loved him, cared for him, respected him, expected the best from him, pushed him, prayed for him, coached him, encouraged him, listened to him, invested in him. I can never thank them enough for their part in making Joshua into the fine, young man he is today.
Today we are living what I call the Years of Blessing. Joshua is happy. He is healthy. He is caring and kind (usually). He sees the good in others. He speaks his mind no matter who is around to hear it! He is funny! In fact, over the past few years, he has turned into our resident Jay Leno. He is sensitive and insightful. He is excited with the little things. He is wise.
God has been so gracious to allow us these fun years with Joshua...sandwiched in between the hard times he had in school...and the hard times that are sure to come.
I love writing about the funny stuff, but there are difficult days, too. You have to know that. I just want people to feel encouraged...to know that Down Syndrome is not a death sentence for your life, your child's life, or for your family.
It's a different path for sure. Difficult for sure. Uncertain, scary, frustrating, sad...blessed, joyful, rewarding and happy.
And, guess what?
All of those same things can be said about parenting our other 3 kids.
I am so very thankful for this man-child.
"For this boy I prayed, and He has granted my request. So I have dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD..." 1 Samuel 1:27-2