Reese is 9 years old today!!! Happy happy happy birthday to my sweet baby girl!
I always write something on her birthday.
Here’s what’s on my mind today.
A friend sent me a message the other day. She mentioned a couple things: she appreciates my honesty in sharing my struggle in raising a child with special needs, and she appreciates my obvious decision to not weigh in on politics this year. Because I don’t like to speak publicly about politics, she asked where I stand on the subject of abortion. I don’t know her political stance, but she got my attention. Lest you misunderstand, I found it to be very loving that she asked instead of assuming or lecturing. Asking questions is a good way to start conversations, btw.
In the presidential debate last week, when asked about abortion, one of the candidates answered this way:
“I have met with women who have, toward the end of their pregnancy, get the worst news one can get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term. Or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”
It stung. I hear “something terrible has just been discovered about the pregnancy.” And the implication is that no one would ever want that kind of baby. And we all agree that it would be OK to take care of that so no one has to live with or deal with that kind of terrible thing, right? It felt like half of the world was nodding.
I heard it. I was that mom who discovered that “something terrible” kind of news while she was pregnant. At 14 weeks to be exact. And I lived in uncertainty for 24 more weeks. It was painful. But that pain was not wasted. It was all used to teach me to trust and to keep company with God.
When my friend asked me about my position, part of me was horrified that maybe, in being honest about my struggles, I have given the impression that I wished abortion had been an option for me.
If there is one thing I want the world to know, it is this. I love raising Reese. I hope you know how much we love and adore her. I hope you see our joy and the way her sisters adore her. I love everything about her, and I love what she has taught us. Raising a child with special needs is not what I expected it to be. Of course, it is hard sometimes. But I would not change it. I would do it all over again because it has been the most beautiful experience of my life. I realize that may be hard to understand and I concede that it is sort of a mystery.
Because of Reese, some of Jesus’ words finally make sense to me. Some words that just didn’t fit in my world before she was in it.
Like “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” In other words, I hear Jesus saying, you will be happy when you are at the end of your rope. When you are at the bottom and you have nothing left. Because it’s then that I will take care of you, because no one else can, and you will really know me. And we will develop a friendship and an intimacy that you have not known. And that is what I really desire for you. That is heaven on earth. That is what Reese has brought me.
Or, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Or in other words, you know those really pure-hearted people? The ones with zero pretense? The totally uninhibited ones? The ones with pure motives, who love unconditionally and don’t know how to love otherwise. Have you ever wondered why they are so happy? Those are the ones who really see me at work around them. Those are the ones who have a very special relationship with me. Those are the ones who truly know me. And we get to live with one of those people.
This is not a post about abortion. But I hate abortion. When I heard that discussion in the debate, I was sad for us, because it felt like the world was collectively devaluing Reese. But I was also sad for all of the mamas and daddies who have missed out. They missed out on the precious, depth of life that was intended for them.
Loving Reese has been joy, fulfillment, depth, trust, soul-searching. Getting real, digging deep, finding out who we are, loving unconditionally, being loved unconditionally, seeing all people differently. Learning from a non-verbal child how to be content, how to love what is, and how to really know God.
I cannot even tell you the wonder and love she has given me. And I know she has taught me to love fully and be loved fully, by our Creator and by each other, and to know that that is enough. Her 9 years have been something very very beautiful.