There is a young man that comes to our church youth group who has a special place in my heart. This young man, might be one that others also call, "less than perfect." He has a chromosomal "abnormality" which results in William's syndrome. He is full of joy, he has a wonderful smile, and he will be a friend to anyone that wants to. Unfortunately, there are some that only look at his differences, instead of the wonderful things he has to contribute. But that is not the case at youth group! He is liked, loved, and accepted!
Since the first time he came, invited by one of the most "popular" kids, my heart was excited. I was excited because everyone treated him with dignity and respect. I was excited picturing Nichole as a teenager, being a part of youth group, with her "typical" peers loving her and accepting her. I want this for Nichole! I want her to love going to places where she will see her friends and where she gets to be a teenager, with no other labels attached.
A few weeks ago, Andy and I went to a conference called "Parents as Presenters." There were parents that had children with many, many, many different disabilities. There was a mom who also had a son with William's syndrome. She shared that someone had said to her once, "It is too bad your son is afflicted with William's syndrome." Her response, "Afflicted? What are you talking about, look at him, he is not afflicted by anything, he loves life and he has more excitement and joy than most other people!"
Some people might think that this young man at our youth group is "afflicted" with William's syndrome. Some people might think that Nichole is "afflicted" with Down syndrome. The reality, is that they are not "afflicted." Their hearts can soar. They enjoy life, they not only understand the meaning of joy, they live it, every day.