Our special needs daughter is an incredible gift to us! I love to listen to her simple but profound prayers (like “Jesus, just take your life and slip it into my shoes”), but watching her and her friends love like Jesus loves is humbling beyond words.
One day, with a group of adult special needs friends, they were throwing bean bags when suddenly David lost control emotionally and HURLED his bean bag, hitting Lisa in the face. I immediately rose to go and chastise David and see to Lisa’s injury but I was WAY too slow! Of the group of 20, 15 immediately surrounded David while the other 5 went to see how Lisa was doing (she’d headed to get a cold compress). It’s what I heard that floored and challenged me.
“David, are you ok? That’s not like you at all! I love you David”. No chastisement, just grace and encouragement. They had created an environment that was safe for David to cry and tell them what he was feeling, why his heart hurt, and they were able to surround him with love. And only THEN encourage him to make peace with Lisa. The same thing must have happened in the other room because when Lisa walked back in, it was with arms open wide to hug David, whose arms were also open wide! And reconciliation happened immediately. Grace, encouragement, a gentle restoring.
In another instance, an elderly man who had come once a month for years to sing karaoke with them, returned after having a stroke, his wife and daughter with him in the back of the room, fearful he could not do it. And indeed, he could not. He became hopelessly confused after a couple of minutes. One mom turned to me and said, “well, this is a waste of time”, and I watched tears roll down the faces of the mom and daughter who had overheard her comment. But those “kids”, our teachers, ran up to this man’s karaoke machine and hugged him and began to sing with him the songs they had sung together before. JOY on their faces and his, just radiant! “We’ve missed you so much! Please come back again! Can you come next week?” And now the tears REALLY flowed from mom and daughter! Hearts lifted and blessed.
Rarely a week goes by that I do not think of these 2 events. They perfectly encapsulate Galatians 6:1-2 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Lord, please help our first response be restorative, not punitive. Help us reflect the grace you so freely gift as these specially abled ones do. You do ALL things well!
By Lynne Worcester