Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The World

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. 
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 
I John 4:7

"It's 6:30 - s'Labor Day - the office is closed."

My daughter stood on the other side of my desk - competing with the view through the window and the blog I was reading on my computer screen.  She was already dressed - pink shorts, tie-dyed t-shirt, pink hat - and she was determined to get my attention.

"Mom, i'sLabor Day - a holiday - the office is closed."

Yes, I squished the words together on purpose.  It's how Sierra talks, sometimes.  Putting the back half of some words with the front half of others.  It's how she hears them.  So Labor Day became s'Labor Day.  And it was as much the charm of that label as the announcement that the office was closed that made me shut my computer off and let my blog go.  Unfinished.  Which would normally bother my OCDness, but was actually fine.  Freeing.  Liberating.

Then she told me the breakfast bell had rung.  Where in the world did I GET this girl.  This child - no, young woman (as she reminds me on a regular basis...).  Yes, the one who years ago would have been left out in a wild place to die, or locked away for life in isolation, who would not have been exposed to education or social situations, who would not have received the medical care she needed - because she was different.  Not only different, but in a medieval way of thinking, less able to be, to do, to live.  My daughter.  Who does NOT suffer from Down Syndrome, but pushes it's boundaries.  Every. Single. Day.

This is the girl who hears of a disaster on the news, a missing person, loss of jobs, wildfires, weather and immediately announces that she will pray for them.  Not only pray for them, if names were mentioned - she will pray for them by name.  Because she cares about people.  Even strangers.  This is a girl who analyzes peoples' names, finds the common letters in her own - and creates relationship - she's my sister, there is i and a.... he's my brother, starts with s....  This is the girl who has started asking every nurse and aid she encounters their name - and then introduces herself with a handshake.  This is the girl who looked at me this weekend and added a new phrase to her litany about being a leader for the high school youth group.  "I am a leader this year.  Are you amazed?"

How did she know!  Yes, I am amazed.

And yet, occasionally, the world steps in and gives me a huge reality check.  It was Mission Sunday last weekend, and our entire church had multiple programs for the congregation to take part in.  Due to a minor miscommunication with her Sunday School, my daughter and I showed up to help with a mission group that wasn't prepared for us.  It was difficult to see the judgement and panic in the eyes of the group when they saw Sierra.  "We're full", they said.  "There just isn't room."  They said.  "No one told us you were coming."  They said.

"It's ok."  I smiled through the start of tears.  "We'll find another group."

So we made our way to the lobby where several activities were going on.  It looked like several groups were busy with their assignments.  One of the church leaders came up to us; we were standing, assessing the situation, deciding where we could help.  He looked at Sierra first, smiling, then at me.

"We've got it all taken care of, here," he said.  "There just isn't any more work to do."  He said.  "No one told us you were coming."  He said.

I am sure that no one intended to marginalize my daughter and me.  I know most of these people and they love my daughter, and they love one another, and they had come to church early to serve,  to love the world through their missions.   But the judgement, the marginalization - it happens.

Here are some suggestions:

  • When someone asks to be put to work, find something for them - even Sierra can fold and count sets of programs, or stuff envelopes.  She ended up putting bookmarks into pews - working together with a partner to ensure there were five in each slot... Jobs may take a little more explanation and a couple of examples, but the reward is priceless.
  • Always start with high expectations, then adjust and break things down.  It's like teaching someone to fish or giving them a fish.  The teaching is better in the long run - for everyone. 
  • Don't ever assume you know someone's capabilities by looking at them.  They can and will surprise you if you use more than your eyes in judgement. 

Jesus said the world will happen - it is the nature of the world.  Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come... Matthew 18:7   The world is kind of our first nature.  So we need to be aware of when the world limits our vision; we need to learn again how to see without labels; we need to humble ourselves to serve.  God gave us a multitude of gifts, each different, each valuable.  Use them.  Appreciate them.  Find joy in them.

Father, thank you for Sierra!  Thank you for our church.  Help us all to help one another live as you would have us live.  

Linking with Women Helping Women


  1. Hi Janet! Oh, this was a heart-squeezer. I am so sorry! There is no way to tell why this happened, but being marginalized is never fun.

    Good list of things to remember though. I especially like the 'do not assume' one. Too easy to do that.

    Wonderful prayer too, Janet.

    1. Hi Ceil,
      You're right - it was unexpected. As to why, I honestly think it has to do with not knowing. If not for my daughter, I might have acted the same way. Sometimes I forget how very much she has taught me. I know that people's hearts are in the right places - There's definitely a lesson in here - for all of us. Have a great Wednesday!


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