According to a report in the American Journal of medical genetics, 99 percent of people with down syndrome say they are happy, 97 percent say they are quite happy with themselves, and 99 percent agree with the statement "I love my family."
One writer summed up these statistics in one simple phrase:"people with down syndrome are the happiest people on earth."
The main " beneficiaries»
I am lucky to be the pastor of a Church that has many children and adults with special needs. For the most part, this is due to one incredible woman – Gigi Sanders. It was at her insistence that we decided to allocate resources and special attention to this group of society. And the main beneficiaries of the current state of Affairs in our Church are not people with disabilities, but those who are close to them, that is, we.
Take, for example, Katie, who has down's syndrome. She has the biggest smile, and her hugs are the strongest and longest. When I tell her that she is the most beautiful, she literally glows, and on those rare occasions when I forget to tell her, she politely reminds me. She shows me the drawings she has drawn, which are a simple but thoughtful interpretation of my sermons.
Or, Cade, he has down's syndrome, too. The last time I met him, I was visiting them, and he just got home from school. It was quite clear that he was a young, purposeful man . He took off his shirt, grabbed his iPad and headphones, and stomped back to his room. And then the whole house began to sing along to the song of his favorite band. He sang selflessly, with all his might, without hesitation or fear that anyone in this world might hear him. There was something very appealing about this single-minded, unashamed, passionate approach to life. I suddenly remembered how God rejoices and enjoys us and ... me. Instead of a measured, calculated approach to dealing with him, God expects us to come "naked and unashamed" – free, confident, convinced, and with a loud song on our lips.
Any other approach only shows that we have forgotten how deeply and passionately God loves us.
We also have William, who has down syndrome and autism. His parents "work hard" in several jobs day and night to take care of him. And yet, they constantly tell how God reveals himself to them through William. In the midst of continuous, stressful everyday life, William delivers amazing surprises. Recently, William got to his father's phone and started sending text messages to people from his father's address book. There were only two words in the text messages: "I Love you."
Throughout the evening, these SMS messages with a Declaration of love received responses from family members, friends, colleagues (how inconvenient!) and unfamiliar people. Some of the responses were also filled with love, and some of the messages were filled with jokes. But all of these emails began with a spontaneous "love note" from a teenager with down syndrome, autism, and a unique sense of humor.
Sometimes God comes quite unexpectedly.
If it weren't for William, people in our Church would know much less about Jesus. If it hadn't been for William, I would have known less about Jesus myself. William wears his baseball cap backward and sunglasses indoors. He seethes with energy, jokes, moves sometimes slightly impulsively, but always very quickly. If I look away for a second, he's already in the other room. He laughs at my jokes, high-fives me in greeting, and has a big grin when our eyes meet. William, like Katie, insists on hugging me, but always just gives me a light hug for half a second. But he never forgets to give me a hug like that. Perhaps all this is due to the childish understanding that he belongs here. And through this understanding, William helps others to feel like they belong here. He may not always be able to put his thoughts into words, but he does hand out service programs, help pass the donation plate, and dance during the General singing. And when he does it, genuinely and honestly, I come back to understanding the truth again. I think of grace again. William reminds me of the "I love you" that is being sent to me every minute, in the most unexpected ways, by Jesus. It shows me a realm that I would never have seen if I hadn't had William in my life.
We really need the Williams, Cades, and cathys of this world to help us see the world, God, and reality through their eyes.
Perhaps these beautiful people with disabilities provide us with the perspective we need on this sometimes challenging journey of finding peace with God.
Because we are all people with disabilities.
We all have special needs.