Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
My husband and I were discussing recent advances in gene therapy. And the question came up - would you 'fix' the Down Syndrome in our daughter?
What an interesting question.
First, to say 'fix' implies that something is broken. I don't feel like my daughter is broken - in any way. In fact, she has probably taught me more about how to live than any book, class, or sermon. Just by her example. She is forever optimistic. She is incredibly fair-minded. She encourages and rejoices in the successes of others. She is helpful. She has a quirky sense of humor.
But, am I being selfish by wanting her to continue to be my teacher? By wanting to continue to enjoy her budding sense of independence and self-worth. By liking to have her close?
Do I want her to be accepted by the people she meets? Yes. Do I want her to experience some of the 'typicals' in her life? School dances, friends, sleepovers, boyfriends? Yes. Do I want her to experience ALL of the typicals? Drama, temptation, substance abuse, premarital sex, disappointment, heartache, rebellion? No! Do I believe that we, without mental and/or physical/communication delays, benefit from overcoming difficulty and hardship. Yes. Do I want my daughter to overcome difficulty and hardship. No! Does that mean that I wish to stunt her potential? Of course not!
Do I think that she would choose to change if she could? I suppose that would be the true litmus test - the one on which I would base my final opinion. What if she wanted to change?
I know that, in her mind, she is already part of the typical world. When she does her Zumba in the morning, she calls out the eight counts and talks her 'class' through the routines. Today, she turned around in the middle of one of the songs and told me she was still on 'So You Think You Can Dance'. She told me she hadn't been cut yet. She tells me everyday (several times a day) that she is 'a leader' this year. She is in 'youth ministry'. It was how we could justify her continuing to go to the church youth group even though she had already graduated high school. Every year she 'goes to Hollywood' during the American Idol tryouts.
But the world she imagines is a world in which she is the STAR. She doesn't know about cutthroat competition. She doesn't recognize cheating. She has been protected from real-world sin, real-world evil, real-world anger, real-world disappointment. And it's not always a conscious protection on our part - it's partly due to her unique comprehension ability, and her joyful outlook on life.
I had to explain with pictures, how people voted for the finalists in choosing her high school's homecoming queen. I drew votes next to fourteen stick-figure faces, then crossed off nine because they didn't get enough votes. The stick figure face with her name got crossed off. It took a couple of times. But I knew she understood when she told me she wouldn't walk on the football field with the other finalists because she was crossed off. Not because the students didn't know her, liked someone else better, or any of the other reasons she didn't receive the votes, but because she was crossed off. She wanted to go to the game to see the finalists, to say 'hi' to the girls who didn't get crossed off, to congratulate the winner. See, she doesn't get that she wasn't popular enough - she just found joy in the whole process (yes, I keep learning from her...).
So - hypothetical question - would I 'fix' my daughter's Down Syndrome. My husband had the best answer. He said he would only ok making her typical if the process could be reversed at her request. If she found that being typical was not all it was cracked up to be - she could go back.
I think about Jesus and His radical vision of a different world. The Kingdom of Heaven. Unlike my daughter - we are definitely damaged goods. We need to be fixed. Unlike the hypothetical question of being able to manipulate my daughter's genes to take away her Down Syndrome, changing her from the inside out, changing the foundation of her DNA - we have a way to change from our foundation. The name of that way is Jesus. Unlike my daughter, who, after all of this hypothetical thinking and second guessing, I wouldn't change FOR the world - I DO wish I could change the world. I can't, but we can. In the name of Jesus, we can.
Heavenly Father, help me to do your work in this world. Let me continue to learn your lessons from my daughter. Help me put those lessons to work in my life, and in the lives of the people around us. Thank you for your Son, Jesus; through Him, we really can change the world.