She has Down Syndrome, which is usually described as a "disability". When we began the process to adopt our daughter, there were those who wondered if we would be overwhelmed by her "disability".
The truth is today, four months into parenting our daughter with Down Syndrome, I can honestly say that yes, I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed by her ability.
I sit on the grass at the splash park in the hot summer sun, and I watch her run through the water spraying up from the ground. Her arms open wide to the sky, her head tilts back and she is taking this one moment and living it full and free. She lives most of her moments that way. And I am overwhelmed by her ability to embrace life and taste every moment.
Eden laughs exponentially more than any other person I've ever known. And I am overwhelmed by her ability to find joy and delight throughout her day in all the little things the rest of us take for granted.
She wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me close to her. We don't have too many words yet, but she looks right into my eyes and doesn't look away. Plants a sweet kiss right on my lips. She isn't afraid to love this way. I am overwhelmed by her ability to love wholeheartedly and without the inhibitions most of us learn to wear over the years.
I am overwhelmed by her ability to go slow when all the world rushes around her. My favorite writer says that hurry is a "sure mark" of an "amateur". This girl's a professional.
I am overwhelmed by her ability to bring joy to those who are around her. We visit friends overnight and I overhear my friend trying to describe Eden to her husband. She's trying to find the word... "She's just ... just... delightful." And I smile huge inside... God knew that was the perfect description for this child when he gave us her name. Eden means "delightful".
I am overwhelmed at her ability to live freely. She's not encumbered by worry or self-importance. She isn't climbing any ladders. It's like somehow she already knows the secrets about life the rest of us don't learn until we're eighty.
I am overwhelmed because when it's all said and done, Eden is able to do and be so many of the things I desire so deeply to embody myself, and yet never seem quite able to do. Perhaps it is my disability. I am often too hardened, inhibited, self-important, and cynical.
"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'" Matthew 11:25
Perhaps I am too wise and learned.
There is this childlike-ness that Eden will probably always possess. It is part of her "disability". And I can only pray that I will have the ability to learn from her.
"And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'." Matthew 18:3
Thank you, Lord, for giving me a child with abilities that have eternal value. As we journey through this life together, help me to overcome my disabilities as I learn from Eden how to live a life that delights you.