Occasionally the Y will feature guest contributors in our blog posts. This entry was written by Mac McCarthy, senior pastor of Crosspoint Community Church here in Oconomowoc. To learn more about Crosspoint Community Church, visit https://www.crosspointwi.com/
Our family is part of the “special needs” club. This isn’t a club into which most people self-select. We certainly didn’t. We joined by surprise and without forewarning.
About two hours after our youngest son was born, a team of doctors and nurses nervously informed us that our newborn son was “exhibiting characteristics consistent with Down syndrome.” As they began to name the characteristics they were noticing — his almond eyes, the crease across his hand, the fold on his neck — I knew they were right. I also knew that our lives would be forever altered.
On the one hand, our lives have been incredibly enriched.
Our joy has multiplied, our laughter doubled, and our love refined.
In a world where love is conditioned upon achievements, intelligence, and external appearance, we have learned a love that can be shared and reciprocated apart from achievements, smarts, and good looks.
Our son, Griffin, is fearfully and wonderfully made and is someone for whom Jesus died. He has intrinsic value and worth, apart from anything he does. This same thing is true for each of us, if we could just believe it and learn to receive it.
Our lives have been forever touched by a better kind of love.
On the other hand, our life has become more difficult and complicated.
Griffin has LOTS of doctor appointments. In addition to his pediatrician, he has an audiologist, ophthalmologist, ENT, allergist, cardiologist, and geneticist. Griffin also has music & speech therapy, occupational & physical therapy, a learning strategist, and two social workers. All of this makes for a lot of appointments!
Nothing is learned quickly. Whereas it took us two weeks to potty train our other boys, it has taken almost two years to potty train Griffin. We are still in pull-ups at night. Everything is more difficult, takes more time, and requires more intentionality.
Our lives have been forever complicated by Griffin’s diagnosis and abilities.
The point is that both of these things are true. Our lives have been positively touched by Griffin AND our lives have been complicated by Griffin’s limitations.
Occasionally we will encounter well-intentioned people who seem unable to acknowledge both of these realities at the same time. They will say things like:
• Griffin is just like every other kid.
• You can hardly tell that Griffin has special needs.
• When I see Griffin, I don’t see his Down syndrome.
The intent behind these comments is to affirm the truth that Griffin has intrinsic value and worth, just like other kids. And that is true and much appreciated. Griffin does have intrinsic value and worth, just like every other kid. The problem, however, is that Griffin is also unlike most other kids. Griffin has a real disability called Down syndrome.
To truly see Griffin, then, requires an affirmation of his inherent worth AND an awareness of his disability. This can be uncomfortable for some people as it will involve seeing the challenges and struggles we face, some odd and atypical behavior, none of which can be instantly solved or quickly fixed. For many, affirming Griffin’s worth is easier than sitting in the discomfort of his disability.
One of the names used for God in the Old Testament is El Roi, which literally means The God Who Sees. Jesus embodied this truth, that God is a God who sees, throughout his life and ministry.
Read through the Gospel and notice how often it mentions Jesus seeing people. Jesus was able to see and affirm the humanity, dignity, and image of God in every single person he encountered. But you will also notice that he was able to see their unique pain, specific hardships, and life challenges. Jesus was not just committed to seeing and affirming the good stuff. He saw the hard stuff too, even when doing so was uncomfortable.
Our world is desperate for people who can see the way Jesus sees.
We need to become people who can affirm the humanity, dignity, and image of God in every person we encounter irrespective of socio-economic status or political affiliation, race or gender, etc. We also need to become people who can see and sit in the discomfort of pain and brokenness, trusting that God is at work in the hard stuff.
Of the just over 30 miracles the Gospels record Jesus performing, almost one fourth of them involve the healing of sight. Perhaps the repetition of these sight healings is indicative of the kind of healing we all need to receive.
Over the past week our staff has been praying for this kind of healing. We each put a screen saver on our phones that says Heal My Sight. Our shared practice is before we activate our phones, which we all do dozens of times a day, we will pause and pray for God to give us new eyes.
Jesus, heal my sight.