Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
Recently, I've really noticed the beauty in the way different children interact with David. For adults, we're all conditioned to behave a certain way when we meet someone who is different than us. Be polite. Don't call attention to the difference. It creates a very polite society, but not necessarily an authentic one, and maybe even a society with a lot of missed opportunities for growth.
Abby, from the very beginning of our journey with David was and continues to be a beautiful example of how to live and love fully. When I was pregnant with David, after we learned of his broken heart, I was devastated. The grief and fear of our situation easily consumed me on any given day. Abby, however, was oblivious to the grief and fear. She was 2 years old, and she just wanted to play. Life went on for her. She didn't understand the risks, mortality percentages, and potential complications. She simply lived each day, in the moment, excited that she would soon become a big sister. The example she set, unbeknownst to her, was a gift to me. I was able to view life from a different, more innocent set of eyes. She lived each day with a perfect faith that Mom and Dad would take care of her and love her. She didn't worry.
Now, she is an amazing big sister to David. She loves him so unconditionally. She plays with him without holding anything back. She loves him completely without fear of what could come. She is proud of him and cheers him on whenever he accomplishes the smallest feat. She continues to be a beautiful example of how to love unconditionally, without limits.
Abby isn't the only one who's innocence speaks truth into my life. My nephew, Andrew, is 11 months older than David. Andrew lives in Michigan, so we don't get to see him as often as we like. However, we were all together earlier this year in Florida for my Dad's wedding. Andrew, like most children, was a little unsure of David when he saw him. Authentically, he gave David the whats-wrong-with-that-kid look. While that sounds harsh, at least it's real, and therefore, something to work with. Andrew was especially taken aback, if not a little frightened, when he saw me giving David his milk through his g-tube. I simply explained to him that David's milk goes straight to his tummy instead of going to his mouth first. I also told him that David has a special heart which is why he saw scars on his chest. He took the information and then walked away. Very authentic. The next time I gave David his milk, however, Andrew was almost excited. He understood now, and was ready to be involved with David. Andrew shared his toys with him, he wanted to give him kisses and hold his hand. It was absolutely precious. Andrew very innocently and authentically loved David.
We attend Watermark Community Church in Dallas, and they have a wonderful special needs ministry called Kaleidoscope. David is paired up with an adult buddy each week who accompanies him into the classroom with other children his age. It took a few weeks, but now more and more children approach him to share toys and play with him. They are accepting him, special stroller and all. This warms my heart. I love hearing that my son is being accepted socially, but I really love the innocence of the children who simply share and love and play with him.
Finally, just yesterday, David was invited to his first birthday party for another heart friend, Ethan. There were a few other children at the party, and after the initial stare-down, the children were wonderful, sharing toys and interacting with him.
There is a reason Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like little children. I'm no theologian, but just witnessing the way these children respond to David teaches me so much about what Jesus meant. They are authentic, for better or worse. When they choose to love and share, it is unconditional. They are honest with their feelings yet still willing to love and accept someone who is a little different, even if it means getting outside of their comfort zone. Yes, it is a blessing to witness that kind of love first hand, over and over again. What a beautiful by-product of a seemingly undesirable situation. Once again, God shows me in the most incredible ways that He knows what He is doing.