Along with marrying my beautiful and Godly wife, raising a child with a disability has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. It turned me away at a very young age from what could have been the life of a workaholic. I was only nine months into a new job as a lawyer with a large law firm in Kansas City when my son Stephen was born. A hallmark of a large law firm is the sweatshop-like hours required from its young associates. Stephen’s needs, and my desire not to make my sweet wife bear the burden of Stephen’s early therapies alone, didn’t allow me to indulge in that lifestyle.
It also introduced me to a world that I didn’t even know existed. The personal sacrifice shown by mothers, fathers, and caregivers of children with developmental or physical disabilities is both inspiring and humbling. This group includes some of the finest human beings I will ever have the privilege to know. Anytime I am tempted to feel sorry for myself dealing with a minor issue related to Stephen’s disability, I need only to remind myself of those who on a daily basis give much more than I am ever asked to give, and my personal pity party is cured.
But most importantly, being Stephen’s dad has allowed me see God in ways I could have never imagined. God has blessed us with supernatural miracles, even starting on the first full day of Stephen’s life. Stephen is responsible for more career changes among our adult family and friends than I can count, mostly from business careers to serving careers, like nursing and special education. The Bible tells us that God is love, but those who call Trisomy 21’s extra chromosome the “Love” chromosome may also be onto something. It certainly is the “Hug” chromosome, if nothing else.
But oh, how Stephen worships. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a good singer. But he’s also not worried about how he sounds or what he looks like when he goes before the Lord in worship. He’s front-row, all-out, hands-raised, in-the-moment. He worships the way I wish that I did. He worships with the faith of a child, even at age 25. And we are all blessed because he does.
So, whether you are well down the parenting path like I am celebrating your child’s 25th birthday, or whether you are just starting the journey, pray with me the prayer of King David, when he asked God to “teach me to number my days, so that I may have a heart of wisdom.” Journal the events in your children’s lives. You’ll be glad you did, and some day your story will encourage others that God has chosen to travel down your same path.