Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Darkness Isn't Dark

I wrote this over six years ago,...when Finn was two, and before Annie was born!

I've thought a lot about childrearing over the past two years, and lately I've thought mostly about perspectives.  How we see our children, and how we perceive their personalities, gifts, and weaknesses.  The times I have been most grateful as a parent, sort of emotionally prostrate before God with thanks, have often been the times when I have been face-to-face with my son's special challenges.

It seems that the way we see our children makes an enormous difference in how we treat them and in how they develop.  Are they a blessing?  Do we harp on their cannots, without embracing their cans? Do we try to fit square pegs into round holes? Do we care too much about what other people--even total strangers--think about our children?  Do we expect the right things?  At the right times?  Are we concerned with building relationships, not just getting behavioral results? Do we see a disability, or just a difference? Do we allow our paradigms to be shifted?

God was good to us.  He gave us a child who is unusual in certain respects. He gave us a child who may see the world differently than we do.  Who has some unique challenges, but also might have some interesting gifts.  We want to be sure he can function well as he ages, but that he never loses that him-ness. A few months ago we had to sit down and think hard about the fact that Finn is probably not a typical child.  And that's where the shift comes in--the shift that asks, what's typical? what's normal? what do those things truly mean?  could this be a good thing--even a great thing?

Rather than seeing all of this as something to be defeated, or worse, something to be mourned, it evolved into something else for me.  Opportunity.  A new way of seeing things.  For me, it has included unspeakable joy.

I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.

You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. This is too much, too wonderful--I can't take it all in!

Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! 
At night I'm immersed in the light!" 

It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

--From Psalm 139, in The Message

When I wrote those words I had no idea what the future held.  We had mixed messages from various professionals on Finn's potential and future. Through it all I never wavered; I knew Finn was special.

Nearly seven years later he is unfolding each day in to the person he was created to be, and it's my particular joy to witness this.  Finn has a gift for art; he spends a lot of time drawing or sketching.  He plays piano frequently (and well).  He has an amazing knack for voices and for understanding how to design things.  He loves theatrical sets and set design.  He reads Shakespeare. He reads everything.  He is hilarious and witty and so very sweet. He has a soft spot for me.  He struggles with basic math facts, but can understand complex mathematical concepts.  His sense of humor is sharp. 

If you have a child who is atypical, I encourage you to look at them through the lens of possibility and not limitation.  Their diagnosed "weakness" may be their greatest strengths.  Look for what they love and do the most and encourage them.  Nothing is too large for God, who has even said that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  He created our children; we just have the privilege of coming alongside of Him to facilitate and witness.  

(A noble lion Finn drew this summer. Of course we named him Aslan.) 

1 comment:

  1. So good! "Disabilities" are really just "differences"--that's exactly how I see it, too. I know the world says kids need to learn math facts and science facts and have legible handwriting--but I say that those kids who can draw and play music and sing (instead), are the ones we all envy when we're adults! I have legible handwriting, but I couldn't sing myself out of a hole, and I definitely know which "gift" I'd choose instead. Go Finn!