When our children were born, we looked forward to what they would become as they blossomed forth into the world. They had so much potential.
Teacher. Scientist. Fire Fighter. Business man or woman. Doctor. Lawyer. Engineer. Mechanic. Nurse. Caregiver. Hero. Writer. Leader. Minister.
We were filled with dreams, wishes, and hopes for our children. But then we began to notice differences in their development. They didn’t speak, walk, move, or connect as well as the other children in our lives – their siblings, cousins, classmates. We listened in secret pain as our friends and siblings crowed about the achievements of their little Einsteins and future athletes. Our children walked late, talked late, and reacted in strange ways to the events around them.
Because of our concern, we had them evaluated multiple times and we finally received the diagnosis of autism, learning disabilities, and in Mary’s case – brain injury at birth.
In the necessarily clear-eyed and realistic assessment of their needs, we had to focus on our children’s challenges; the features that differentiated them from normal kids. Knowledge, even if painful, was required in order to provide what our kids needed. We traveled the road less traveled of therapy, IEP meetings, evaluations, and support groups.
In the process, it was easy to lose sight of their potential.
It was easy to forget that they were created in the image of God for a purpose.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10, NIV
Mary, Will, and Patty were created, just as we are, to do the good works which God prepared in advance for them to do.
So Will painted walls and picked up trash at Habitat for Humanity houses when he was in high school. Mary volunteered at a homeless shelter in the accounting department for over a year. Patty helped create a mural for display in one of the inner city neighborhoods.
Not only have they performed good works themselves; but good works have also been generated in those around them. Kindness has been extended. Help has been offered and accepted. When Will was in high school, the football players in marching band let it be known that anyone who messed with Will messed with them. Many good works were done behalf of our family, which God prepared in advance for others to perform.
In his valedictorian speech, Will thanked those who had helped him.
“I would like to thank my family for raising me to be the person I am today. I also thank my friends for supporting me and for treating me with respect despite my autism. I hope that my classmates have learned from me to accept differences, and see the best in everyone.
My teachers also deserve thanks for helping me with my assignments and also for being some of my friends. I also thank Mrs. Jean for helping me to keep up with my homework especially after being sick sometimes for over a week at a time. I also thank God for giving me the strength to get through each day.”
They are God’s handiwork…the art of creation poured out in our little ones.
Let us never forget that our children also have a purpose beyond themselves as they blossom forth into the world.