This father’s story on CNN wrecked my heart. I would encourage everyone to read it. It tells of a child’s diagnosis of Down Syndrome and how it broke the father, leaving him wondering if life was worth living, if he should put his daughter up for adoption, or if he should leave his child and wife.
On www.CNN.com, Jack wrote about his daughter, Marley, “I believed all the negative things the world told me about Down Syndrome, and viewed it as a curse on my family.” Wow. Heartbreaking. I have a son with Autism, and this makes me wonder how the world views my son. I like to live in a universe that is enlightened to the utter joy that a child with special needs can bring to it. Maybe that world only exists in my imagination.
Somewhere in my heart I have to forgive him for how he viewed his daughter and her special need. I have to forgive the world he lives in, which negatively judges people who are different from everyone else.
This last week a celebrity came under tremendous criticism because of some choices she made, and I ranted about forgiveness for her. She apologized, and she should be forgiven. Yet, I find myself being cynical as I read Jack Barr’s story. Forgiveness need not be withheld, he has changed his heart and has found how his daughter has truly blessed his life.
He writes, “Once I overcame my own selfish expectations for my daughter, I slowly began to see the beautiful girl that would change my life.” I believe this is the stumbling block for anyone that is blaming a child who has special needs, or the God who brought the child into the world. Whether a child has Down Syndrome, Autism, or suffers from neglect, abuse, and trauma, it’s not the child’s fault, and there may be something far greater lessons for us to learn than we ever expect or intend. Children are a blessing, no matter how they come to us, no matter what they look like when they enter our arms, and no matter how they act toward us. We must overcome our selfishness to reach out to the “least of these.”
Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother and sister of mine, you did for me.’”