My kid has more chromosomes than your kid!
I always get a kick out of saying that! Most of you who know me and my family know about my son, Cooper. In 2007, we met this little buddy who would change our lives more than we could have ever imagined. Cooper's birth came with the harsh reality check of a condition called Trisomy 21 better known as Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a condition where a person carries a third copy of the twenty-first chromosome. And that tiny little chromosome caused a shockwave in our lives. That day at the women's hospital most of the families around us were elated at the arrival of a healthy child, we were devastated.
Like most good Christian folks we could tell you all the "right" answers.
"God is in control."
"God knows best."
"No child is an accident." Bla, bla, bla…
In moments like these those statements seem hallow and do little for the emotional hit of not getting what you prayed for.
Immediately, we were thrust in to a whirlwind of dealing with a number of complications caused by a pre-mature delivery and that unwelcome extra chromosome. I'm not sure exactly how but we survived those five weeks at the children's hospital, but we did, and finally took Cooper home. Life didn't get much easier. We felt scared and ill-equipped to care for Cooper's fragile little life. Those days were hard. There were many tears and sleepless nights. We wrestled with our own selfish thoughts and fears. Along the way, I learned a lot about love, commitment and trusting God even when I disagreed with His apparent will. I learned that my wife is stronger and more tenacious than I ever knew. At the time, what felt like suffering became a priceless window into my own soul and the heart of my Heavenly Father. Somehow this tiny little boy with an invisible extra chromosome became a living illustration of how God sees each of us.
Everyone has "special needs" in God's eyes. Our Heavenly Father loves us through our sin and dysfunction. He doesn't allow our weakness and problems keep Him from giving us His best. He puts up with us when we offer Him nothing. He do gives when all we can do it take. What happened to me is beautifully described by Dan Allender in this quote, "May we all be amazed at how well God has written into the lives of our children just what we are meant to know about Him."
Cooper is now 6. I cannot imagine my life without him. I do not pray for Down syndrome to go away. I do not ask God to heal him. Cooper is not broken, sick or disabled. Sure, we have our challenges. He's certainly not typical. Yes, I ask God often to help Cooper learn things and develop faster and I get frustrated by some of his quirks. Yet, i'm grateful for the way my life has been changed all because of a little chromosome.
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. 3/21 was selected to represent the third copy of the 21st chromosome which is commonly known as Down syndrome. I hope you will take the opportunity this week to be a blessing to someone with Down syndrome who is making our world a better place to live.