I stopped at the stoplight of a busy intersection on my way home from picking up some bottles for Josh. I was on an unfamiliar road and noticed a high school on my left across the street on the corner. I looked at the clock — it was 3 pm, and school was out for the day. The light did not change and as I looked around, feeling slightly bored, I saw a girl, probably 15 or so, walking across the street with a noticeable limp. She had a pink ball cap pulled over her mid-length hair, and she wore loose cotton capris and a colorful sweatshirt. She happily clutched her water bottle that had a hard plastic straw inside. With a huge smile on her face, she walked along with her headphones in and her ipod playing. I knew immediately that she was unique, made incredibly special by God’s design, existing in a world of her own.
Across the intersection I watched a throng of young teenagers start to cross the street. Groups of girls talking among themselves, with long hair, perfect makeup, and short-shorts. Packs of young men either horsing around or staring at their shoes as they walked forward. You could almost feel their insecurity, their struggle to find their place in this life.
I glanced further to my right and watched the gal with the ball cap limping along again. There was so much brightness in her expression. Just behind her were 30 or so teens, also crossing the street, most looking tense, so filled with angst. And yet this girl exuded peace.
I was reminded of my own sister, who resembled this young woman in many ways, right down to the ball cap, ipod, capris and even the water bottle. She also can found be listening to music on any given day, happily existing in her own little world; ignorant of the many uncertainties of life surrounding her.
Over the years I’ve noticed how people have kindly expressed sorrow to me that my sister is disabled with Trisomy 14. And it’s always been kindly received, because caring for my sister IS really hard for my parents. Some days, the struggle seems too much for all of us. But there is always grace to be found in the midst of difficulty. Yesterday, when I saw this girl walking along, it struck me not only how well taken care of she was, but also how she seemed to be completely bypassing the angst-filled years of high school. And the same has been true for my little sister. She has little to no stressors, except for the occasional stomachache or a cold. She lives almost completely without fear or worry. It struck me that I ought to be living in the same way, because I don’t need to be trying to carry the weight of this world on my shoulders. Christ is there to shoulder my burdens, to carry my load. He does this willingly.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
I didn’t come to write on my blog this morning with any sort of agenda. I saw this young lady yesterday, and something deep inside resonated with me to the point of bringing tears to my eyes. I saw a person, so different from the rest, yet so perfectly made in God’s image. So loved by God. I saw peace and contentment. And I thought of my own sister, who can barely grasp the concept of who God is — but who is also very much loved by her Creator. It shatters me to hear others say that disabled people are a “burden on society.” I think the people who say this have not had their own burdens lifted by the Lord. Disabled people are such a gift to our society. We can learn so much from people not tightly bound to social norms and peer pressure. And we can learn from their love. My sister will often screech “Emmy!” with pure joy and excitement and run down my parent’s driveway to greet me when I visit. She often forgets that she will fall and injure herself on the sloping gravel driveway– and would continue to do so– if my parents did not restrain her. It reminds me of the father of the prodigal son, running down the lane to greet his wayward son who has finally returned home.
And so our heavenly Father greets us, with joy and rejoicing, when we turn from the evil of this world and ask Him to carry our burdens.
Today I want to see others as God sees them. I want to love without inhibition and release my burdens to the Lord. And today I’m thanking God for this special sister of mine and all that she’s unknowingly taught me.