Monday, May 14, 2007

Dear Readers:

I was blessed this Mother’s Day to have my older daughter, Leah, here for a visit. She is a special person, who has a heart for people—especially children—with “special needs.” She shared a truth with her father and me that two of them had taught her recently, and I thought it would be a blessing to you, as well. So…enjoy!

"Good, Better and Best"

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Cor. 10:12)

Over the past ten years, I have developed a very tender spot in my heart for people with Down's Syndrome. It began back in 1997 when I met an adorable two-year-old boy named Bo. Though it is evident by Bo's features that he is Down's, he is very much "on the high end" intellectually. He speaks relatively clearly and continues to expand his vocabulary, reads and writes a little, is extremely cognizant of all that goes on around him, and is a loyal fan of Scooby-Doo. The only major struggle Bo faces is that he is still not completely toilet-trained even though he recently celebrated his 12th birthday.

Another of my favorite "Down's people" is Morganne Mach. Morganne lives (and was born) on the mission field of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Her mother and I have been friends for about 27 years now. Like a true "woman," Ten-year-old Morganne talks incessantly; however, very little of anything she says can be understood by anyone except some of her immediate family. She struggles academically despite her mother giving her diligent speech therapy activities and specialized home-schooling. She is bubbly and loud and active... and has been completely toilet trained for several years. Her Down's features are evident and her mother must often gently remind her, "Morganne, put your tongue in your mouth."

Morganne's family was on furlough a couple of years ago and parked their motor home at our house for several months while they had meetings in our area. One of those meetings was at our own church's mission conference. During this time, we were all excited to see Bo and Morganne meet and interact with one another. What I observed gave me one of the greatest spiritual rebukes of my life.

Passive and somewhat reserved as usual, Bo was sitting next to me when Morganne came running energetically over to the two of us, hugged me and began a paragraph of animated conversation which was completely untranslatable. Then she grabbed Bo in one of her bear hugs and finally stepped back with her tongue hanging out (a normal Down's trait) and just stared at him. After a long minute, she smiled at him and walked away.

As she was walking away, Bo looked at me with a scowl and said, "I don't like that girl." Knowing this was NOT his usual nature, I asked incredulously, "Why?" He said, "Ummm, she's loud... and she stick her tongue out... and she talks weird to me; I don't like that." After I had an on-his-level heart-to-heart talk with him about it, I began thinking....

Bo is not unlike many of us.

By our standards, both Bo and Morganne are "less than perfect" so we find it unthinkable that he would look down upon her. After all, you cannot tell by looking at Bo that he is not completely toilet-trained; but you can immediately perceive that Morganne cannot communicate well. So it does appear that he is the "better" of the two.

Do we not do the same every day with our fellow believers? In our Father's sight, we are all handicapped and "... come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23); yet we constantly compare ourselves to some fellow Christian who is just not quite as spiritual as us. You know, the ones whose faults and sins are readily seen-- as opposed to our inward ones like envy, pride, jealousy, etc...

Bo has an excuse for his reasoning, he is mentally handicapped. What excuse do we have for our Pharisaical reasoning? Perhaps we are spiritually handicapped more than we know.

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