me first (at least at EPCOT)

One of the benefits of living in central Florida is the proximity to all things Disney… Disney World, Disney Springs, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Wide World of Sports — not to mention all the other amusements and amusement parks that accompany the characters and fanfare.

Recently we were at EPCOT, one of Disney’s primary theme parks in Bay Lake/Lake Buena Vista. FYI: EPCOT, is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. In Disney’s words: “EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed but will always be introducing and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”

EPCOT is one piece of the Disney puzzle that seems simply to overflow with joy, opportunity, and goodwill. It is no doubt a wonderful place to be.

On our recent visit, no less, we incurred a slight challenge. We had a complication with a previous reservation that caused some confusion. Hence, we went to Guest Relations, hoping they could amend the issue.

There were other people there — other people in line.

There were other issues.

As we awaited our turn, with multiple service reps swiftly tending to customers, the line also grew behind us.

Then came him.

There was nothing that immediately stood out about “him”… modestly dressed, most likely a tourist, middle-aged, no doubt. He had a spouse… some kids, too, although each were aptly silent. “Him,” however, was kind of loud…

“This is ridiculous!

I came all the way here — my whole family! 

And they can’t take care of this immediately?!

They make us wait in line?!

This is ridiculous!!

Someone better $#^&@!!’n help us NOW!”

Never mind that there were other people in line. Never mind that there were other issues. Never mind that there were other people who also needed help. “Him” demanded that he be helped “now.” “Him” could only see the issues that affected “him,” and he was thus blind to all the needs of those around “him.”

God bless those Disney cast members. They politely came and removed the gentleman (a loosely used term today), taking him to an area in which his boisterousness would be somewhat less visible and disrupting. 

But it was fascinating that “him’s” needs superseded all awareness of the validity of any other need around “him.” He was mad and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Sadly, it contributed to his growing self-focus.

The rest of us in line, each awaiting attention to our diverse, individual needs, simply kind of stood there… silent for a moment or two. We were each aware that our needs were different, but also valid. We were also each aware that this one man cared nothing for the rest of us; he could only see himself. His need/pain/issue was most likely valid, but he could not see anything other than self.

The man now directly behind us broke the semi-awkward silence. Also quite modest in appearance and countenance, he simply, slowly uttered, “Yep, it’s the happiest place on Earth.”

Respectfully…

AR

go, grow, & Tiger, too

I am not the same person today.

I’ve grown. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve grown some more. Made more mistakes.

Thankfully, there is progress — although sometimes progress up close looks like two steps forward and one step back. Stand far away from me, and you might not see it; you’ll only see my backwards step.

“There he goes again…

He’ll never change… she’ll never change.

Same old, same old…

Once a ‘whatever,’ always a ‘whatever’…”

But that’s not true. I am not the same. While sometimes I look the same, talk the same, maybe even give the outward impression that I’m acting the same, it’s simply not true. I have grown. But from far away, you can’t see all the growth — not while it’s happening. You can’t see growth in another person when you are so far away from them.

Hence, we cling to what often, eventually evolves into inaccurate assessments of another.

With much of my family tuned in to professional golf’s Masters Tournament this weekend, I was again reminded of the wisdom in allowing another to grow… to refuse to hold on to an old perspective, even if it was valid at the time it was formed.

Valid then does not make it valid now, contrary to what might be easiest to believe.

I cheer on my favorite golfers this weekend (go, Jordan, Bubba, Zach J., and Phil!). One more I cheer on is Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.

I suppose, though, I cheer on Tiger for a bit of a different reason. 

I want to see him grow.

As has been previously chronicled, the one-time dominant Woods experienced ample professional and personal fallout. In the midst of multiple back surgeries, Woods also faced significant damage to his perceived character and reputation, with the acknowledgement of numerous extramarital indiscretions and affairs. He has spent years, seemingly attempting to recoup both his professional and personal standing.

Leading up to the Masters, in fact, it was a refreshing change this week to see Tiger on the golf course, practicing with long time rival Phil Mickelson — laughing, fist-bumping, playing together. The relationship between the competitors was always a little icy, dicy, etc., but at Mickelson’s invitation, we witnessed something different this week. Said Phil, “I find that I want him [Tiger] to play well, and I’m excited to see him play so well.”

Hmmm… maybe they’ve grown. I’m not absolute certain, of course. I’m too far away.

There are few things more attractive in a person than maturity and growth. Growth is so beautiful and contagious! I’m fearful, however, that we miss out on the beauty in so many because we hold them to an expectation of behavior that was true before… just maybe not now.

Back to Tiger. He’s competitive again, and so the press and publicity increases immensely. Publicity can be good. Or not.

Reports swirled earlier in the week that Tiger’s most recent ex-girlfriend signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding their relationship and why it ended, as indiscretions may have again been involved. (Remember the key word is “may.”)

Sigh. I hope such is not true.

But here’s the key. Even if such is true and is similar to past behavior, it does not mean Tiger has failed to grow. It may be two steps forward, one step back. It may be no steps whatsoever. But from my vantage point — the reality of being this far away — I can’t see.

Go, Tiger, go… Go, also, Jordan, Bubba, Zach J., and Phil…

Let’s all grow while we’re at it, too.

Respectfully…
AR

does WiFi make us smarter?

Only 20 years ago were we first able to “Google.”

Two years later came the iconic Nokia 3310, one of the most successful mobile phones, even developing a bit of a cult status of its own, with features rare for the time.

Soon after came Wikipedia and Skype.

2004 then brought us Facebook and Flickr.

And by 2005, 16% of the world’s population now had internet access. That number would almost double five years later.

Now in 2018, with the Digital Revolution of the Information Age fast upon us — or recently past, pending varied observation — look at us. What has happened? What has happened to us?

We have all this information at our fingertips. We can find out pretty much anything we want with the touch of a few buttons, the opening of an app, or the slide of some inanimate bar. Information is better, faster, and more.

As University of Tennessee law professor, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, said years ago as the age evolved and internet expanded:

“I’m writing this in a bar right now, and I have most of human knowledge at my fingertips. Okay, it’s not really a bar. It’s a campus pizza place, albeit one with 27 kinds of beer on tap, a nice patio and — most importantly — a free 802.11b ‘Wi-Fi’ wireless Internet hookup. With that, and Google, there’s not much that I can’t find out. If I’m curious about the Hephthalite huns or the rocket equation or how much money Fritz Hollings has gotten from the entertainment industry, I can have it in less time than it takes the barmaid to draw me a beer.”

So the logical question is whether this better, faster, more information is making us smarter? Is that what’s happening to us?…

… or not?

As Reynolds poignantly pointed out this week in his USA Today opinion piece, “People don’t seem to have gotten significantly smarter or better-informed.”

Why?

We have all this information, but we…

… reserve the right to think whatever we want…
… reserve the right to treat opinion sources as fact…
… and we reserve the right to ignore perspective (or think lesser of it) if it makes our truth a little less convenient.

So I ask again: why?

Is this where social media is playing an unintended role? Are we allowing social media to dictate our sense of understanding, even with all this info at hand? Or is approval and popularity distorting understanding?

In other words, have “likes,” “dislikes,” and those angry emojis, etc. become our barometers of perceived wisdom?

Said Reynolds, “Facebook and social media are exploiting our evolutionary need for approval. That’s one reason the Internet and WiFi aren’t making us smarter.” 

“Like” does not equate to accurate nor wise.

Maybe we post an article totally denigrating a single political party. Someone approves.

We share a rant that downright belittles another person. Someone gives us a thumbs up.

In a snap or thread, we lambaste the one who disagrees. We get a few “ha ha’s,” maybe even a “good one!”

But tell me: since when did denigration, belittlement, and lambasting qualify as a sign of wisdom?

We have all this information available, and yet, the better, faster, and more doesn’t seem to be making us smarter at all.

Respectfully…
AR

 

[See entire article from Glenn Harlan Reynolds here.]

an imperfect reflection

[Intramuralist Note: Beginning the week of April 1st, new posts will appear on Sundays and Wednesdays. We want you to be able to depend on what day posts will appear. So thank you. We so appreciate you joining in the conversation!]

*****

It’s Easter.

For Christians across the globe, it’s one of the holiest, most meaningful days of the year. It’s one of the few days, the stores close, families gather, and we reflect upon what’s most important.

The focus is Jesus — a man recognized by most all major religions as truly walking this planet some 2,000 years ago… the only central leader of a faith whose body isn’t dead, decaying in a tomb somewhere… and how all but one of his inner circle is said to have died a martyr’s dead; people don’t willingly die for something they believe to be untrue.

Jesus is a person.

Jesus is not a doctrine or a theology. He is a person.

And that’s what makes him different.

A Christian’s faith is not in any well-defined dogma — in some magic “fix-it” or “fix-me” formula. Our faith is instead in a person. Jesus asks us to look at him, who he is, and become more like him.

I look at the extent of his character, all those traits that make him stand out more than any of the rest of us… he is kind, compassionate, patient, prayerful, loving, forgiving, gentle, humble, selfless, strong, servant-hearted, self-controlled, wise, and accepting. He accepts people where they are at. It’s not that he doesn’t care how we live, but he doesn’t get hung up on where we’re at. He accepts us where we are, as we are, and encourages each of us to grow.

But here’s the thing…

As one who desires to love Jesus back, I am not all of the above. I am not always kind, compassionate, servant-hearted and certainly not accepting. Sometimes I’m unloving. Sometimes I’m arrogant. Sometimes, too, in fact, I’m a total, broken mess.

All that brokenness makes me an imperfect reflection of who Jesus really is.

Thank God that we each have opportunity to be the recipient of his amazing, unending, extravagant grace. As a mess, I need that. Daily.

And I think that’s part of the problem in the world today; we make assumptions about each other and the imperfect messes that we each are.

For those who are believers, we sometimes forget that we are imperfect. We sometimes allow ourselves to think we are somehow different than those around us — like any of us need a savior less than another. Sometimes we get puffed up or uncaring or treat others in a way that can be so harsh and seemingly judgmental.

For those who are skeptics, we sometimes forget that Christians are not Christ. We sometimes allow ourselves to base our faith on people other than Jesus — like if his followers are like that, “no way do I want to be.” Sometimes we get puffed up or critical or treat believers in a way that can be so harsh and seemingly judgmental.

The reality is that we — me —we are imperfect reflections of Jesus.

In my desire to love Jesus back for who he is and all he has done — walking this planet, exemplifying a wisdom and perfection that I humanly cannot — I deeply wish for each of us is to be more kind, compassionate, patient, prayerful, loving, forgiving, gentle, humble, selfless, strong, servant-hearted, self-controlled, wise, and accepting.

Such a pursuit is life-changing.

Such is what I’m so thankful for at Easter.

Blessings, friends… always… to all…
AR

the nun who boxes out

Early on in our marriage, as we were attempting to merge two hearts, households, hedge funds, etc., my spouse came up with a regular saying and reminder. It is one he has long repeated, especially when the going gets tough and the tough get going.

He simply says, “We’re on the same team.” It’s simple. But also true and profound.

There’s something beautiful about recognizing we’re all on the same team — where we root together for what’s bigger, instead of divisively getting lost, forgetting we’re all in this life together.

As I watch the seemingly big, 2018 NCAA basketball tournament come to a close, I have found something that reminds me of the bigger. We are not truly divided into Jayhawk, Rambler, Wildcat, or Wolverine fans. We are all, simply fans.

Sister Jean, the spunky 98 year old chaplain of Loyola Chicago’s men’s basketball team, reminds us of that. Her words and presence remind us of what’s bigger…

“Things turn out well when you work as a team, when you share the ball and you’re so kind to each other. And when you really like each other. That’s what happens with these young men, they really like each other.”

“They’re having what I call fun on the court. If you don’t have fun when you’re playing, you’re not relaxed enough to get the ball into the basket.”

And in response to a question asking if she’s the difference in regard to the Ramblers’ newfound success, “Oh, no. God’s been the difference and the young men.”

I love it. Here in a world that daily comes up with new ways to divide themselves, Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt reminds us of what’s bigger.

Look at how these impressionable young Loyola players respond…

From Marques Townes, “Her presence and her aura, when you see her — it’s just like the world is just great because just her spirit and her faith in us and Loyola basketball and just her being around.”

Said Donte Ingram, “She’s like another coach. [In my first ever game], it caught me off guard. I thought she was just going to pray. She prayed, but then she starts saying, ‘You’ve got to box out and watch out for 23.’”

And said guard Clayton Custer, “For her to be doing what she’s doing at her age, it’s amazing, and it’s inspiring. And I think, I mean, I think her prayers definitely mean a little bit extra when she prays for us.”

Interestingly, many in the sports media have recently run stories discussing how in the wake of the scandals hitting college basketball, we’ve been in need of a “feel good” story. As so editorialized by The Guardian Weekly:

“… If you wanted to hope for a spiritually redemptive script for college basketball to follow, one could do worse than a series of games in which the sinning teams were punished and the lower seeds inherited the later rounds.

If you were to write this story, filled with unlikely game-winning moments that we reflexively call ‘miracles,’ why wouldn’t you include a basketball-obsessed nun helping her team achieve improbable victories? You don’t have to be religious in the slightest to understand that it would make a fantastic story if Loyola somehow made it the Final Four – or beyond – under Sister Jean’s watch.

For what it’s worth, even Sister Jean thinks that this is unlikely. After Loyola’s defeat of Tennessee she admitted that she only had them going to the Sweet Sixteen in her bracket, not any further.

She knows, as we all do, that sporting events aren’t morality plays. Still, a part of us wants to believe: even a staunch atheist will often lapse into talk of faith and belief when it comes to their team. That’s a big reason why Sister Jean has resonated so strongly with fans. She represents the pure and good in a game that is so often corrupt.”

Thank you, Sister Jean, for reminding us of something bigger.

Respectfully…
AR

look at our teens (listen, too…)

I love how often the children see what we cannot…

I love their passion…
… their enthusiasm…
… their unscripted response…

I love their curiosity…
… their bravery…
… their uncanny moxy…

I love their willingness to act…
… and their equal willingness to ask questions — even those seemingly “stupid” ones, that adults aren’t always courageous enough to ask.

Maybe that’s what I love most about children; they are not adults.

We allow things to get in the way.

To get in the way of what?

… of staying humble…
… of doing what’s right…
… of loving all others well.

We typically each love only a selected some.

So what actually gets in the way?

What keeps us from staying humble, doing what’s right, and loving all others?

Lots… understandably and unfortunately…

Hurt.
Disappointment.
A lack of forgiveness.
Bitterness.
And anger.

Sometimes intelligence, too.

As we’ve recently witnessed teens and tweens leading us in both prayer and peaceful demonstration, I keep thinking about how much each of us could learn from them if we, too, came together, humbly, worked across avenues and aisles, and committed to loving and listening to all others well.

Remember, too, therefore, who it actually is that leads the wolf, lion, and lamb well…

“The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.
 
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
 
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.”

A child will lead them… the innocence of a child shall lead… no wolf nor goat nor lion…

They do not teach the wolf to eat the lamb nor the lion to devour the yearling. They instead teach them all how to lie down and work together.

Respectfully… humbly, too…
AR

I hate them

I hate them.

Yes, I mean “hate.”

I loathe, detest, despise, and abhor. I hate them.

They are slimy… kind of briny, too.

Yes, I hate pickles. Ask my dearest Facebook friends. They regularly enjoy egging me on, finding the latest, creative Vlasic variety, making all sorts of kosher comments.

Did I mention I hate them?

Let’s be clear: I have good reason for hating them. They taste awful. Their texture is sludgy; they are not smooth; and their greenish color is simply not appetizing. And even though, according to Statista based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (and even though it’s totally crazy that we keep statistics on these things) 233.12 million Americans consumed pickles in 2017, it changes nothing.

I hate them. And every one of those actual 233.12 million is simply blind, wrong, or seriously misguided.

I hear you…

“AR, you hate something? … someone?

You hate it?”

Yes… yes, I do.

“But don’t you know that hate is foolish? How it usually represents more of a blindspot in the beholder than in the object of the abhorrence?”

You don’t get it.

I have a reason for my hate.

My hate is justified.

And the minute we justify our own hate, the minute we cement the blind spot… the minute we lose our objectivity — regardless of our intelligence. Our hatred has impeded our ability to think clearly — and our ability to love and work with the different.

This is tough, friends. I get it. Some things and people make us really mad. Understandably. But let us not be willing to sacrifice a greater virtue, giving our hate and judgment a life of its own.

I can hear you now. Here come even more kosher comments, disrespectful memes, and even that oddball ad that thinks someone, somewhere desires Chapstick in some sort of dill flavor.

Egad.

And did you see Sonic? The drive-up fast food restaurant recently announced that they will be selling pickle slushies this summer.

Are you kidding me?

First pickle Pringles, then pickle vodka, and now the summer slushie?

These people are nuts! Don’t they realize how awful they are?

Or wait…

You mean they don’t all think like me?

Respectfully…
AR

one shining moment

Perhaps you saw it. Perhaps you did not.

When the University of Michigan men’s basketball team hit their improbable, last-second shot — shockingly sending the Wolverines into the so-called “Sweet 16” — pandemonium erupted on the court. As is often typical these days, the players and fans went a little, understandably crazy.

There was shock on both ends — in winning. And losing.

And then there was this, as depicted by Brian Smith, for www.AthletesInAction.com:

“… As Houston’s Cory Davis watched in disbelief along the sideline, he was met by an unlikely visitor. Mo Wagner, a forward for the Wolverines known for his grit and sometimes chippy play, stopped pursuing the chaos and momentarily reengaged his opponent.

The moment is worth championing on multiple levels.

God created us to celebrate when things go well. It completes the experience. To neglect the opportunity to celebrate would leave us feeling like we had one final piece of a puzzle that we just decided not to fit into place. There is nothing wrong with the rest of the Wolverines chasing each other around the court. You can even see Wagner start the celebration process.

But then he presses pause. Why?

I have no idea. I can guess, but ultimately, I don’t know why he stopped.

That’s a large reason why this moment was so beautiful. It was not normal or expected. It was not scripted. You can tell from Wagner’s body language that he did not start running with the intention of stopping to chat with Davis. It certainly wasn’t to mock Davis.

Something more like competitive empathy. Athletic respect toward a fellow player who competed at a high level and helped bring out everyone’s best. Understanding born out of his own experience with losing. A genuine compassion extended to the vanquished — perhaps out of relief that he wasn’t having to suffer the emotions that come with Davis’ fate. A simple display of class. Whatever — it was something worth noticing.

March Madness never fails to deliver memorable moments. The Cinderella stories, unlikely comebacks, and buzzer beaters will always make ESPN headlines.

But moments like these make sports so captivating for us. Against the backdrop of the Madness, snapshots of compassion and empathy continue to capture our attention — and keep us fixated to see what could potentially happen next.”

I’m reminded of a previous post penned last fall. It detailed the 14 warmup shirts worn by the Purdue men’s basketball team this season. Each wore a different word…

Peace.
Justice.
Humility.
Togetherness.
Respect.
Loyalty.
Love.
Empathy.
Equality.
Unity.
Friendship.
Forgiveness.
Tolerance.
Compassion.

Isn’t it true? Against the backdrop of the madness, the above virtues capture our attention most. They last for more than one shining moment in time.

Respectfully…
AR

the other side of madness

Like many this weekend, I watched as dreams were dashed and brackets were bashed on the college hardwood. With improbable upsets and last-second shots moving from desire to reality, it was an exciting weekend for even the fair-weather fan.

None was as unlikely or historic as the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s win over Virginia. Virginia was considered the strongest team in the tournament; UMBC was considered the weakest. With the upset being the first time a #16 seed has ever defeated a #1 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament, (if you were up late enough to watch it) history was made. It was an iconic moment in sports.

Let that sink in for a moment. An iconic moment in sports occurred at the hands of a small group of 18-22 year old, amateur, young men.

So as the clock wound down and the upset evolved from the impossible to the unlikely to the seriously-are-you-kidding-me, jubilation was everywhere… Oh, how we love a good underdog!

The jubilation was everywhere! … yes … except in the hearts of the players and fans from the University of Virginia.

As fun as it was to watch the unprecedented glee from UMBC’s Retrievers — “Retriever Nation,” as is now being trademarked (even though a mere four days ago, said “nation” equated to a little more than five thousand fans), it was hard to watch the poignant pain of those who cheered on the Cavaliers.

The contrast was striking… untamed joy on one side… complete, unexpected shock on the other.

It made me ask, “How often am I aware of the other side?”

When the madness turns to sadness for a select group of people, do I:

… deny it?
… act like it’s no big deal?
… act as if only my perspective or emotion is important?

As the upsets continued — from my Ohio friends working through the unforeseen losses of both Xavier and the University of Cincinnati to Auburn, North Carolina, and Tennessee — I was struck by the postgame press conference of Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. Bridges is considered one of college basketball’s best players and he just participated in the Spartan’s shocking defeat at the hands of Syracuse, a team which barely eked their way into this year’s bracket.

Said an obviously distraught Bridges, “I really just couldn’t believe that we had lost. I thought we had the best shot to win a national championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. It’s probably the saddest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Note that: “the saddest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Right — these are most likely, with all due respect, fairly immature 18-22 year old men — but it does not negate the fact that one person’s glee is still another person’s agony.

Does it matter?

Should the emotions of another affect me? Or affect how I respond?

While I pray for these young men — deeply desiring them to realize there is so much more of life to be lived and how God totally teaches each of us in the hard spots, so-to-speak, especially if we let him — I’m mindful that the elation of one should never blind us to the heartache of another…

… either on and off the college hardwood.

Respectfully…
AR

the down syndrome abortion debate

Some days I simply pause, completely perplexed at what current culture feels a need to next debate. Intelligent people on all sides of the aisle or all sides of something wrangle about all sorts of issues, each seemingly, boldly declaring that they represent the moral authority in the land. I see a world which is morally confused. And our intelligence has gotten in the way.

As referenced here last fall, for example, in Iceland, doctors are now required to tell expectant mothers about an available screening test that can indicate the presence of Down syndrome in their baby. CBS originally ran this story under the headline “Inside the Country Where Down Syndrome Is Disappearing,” omitting the reality that only live birth stats were decreasing due to abortion — not because fewer babies had the genetic disorder. Close to 100% of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in Iceland are now aborted.

An entire people group is being eradicated because of who they are and how they are born.

With the Icelandic development combined with already high American abortion rates when a baby is identified as having a third copy of chromosome 21, there has been a push in recent years for state legislatures to enact law which prohibits abortion based strictly on a Downs diagnosis. Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Ohio have already passed such legislation, with Utah’s legislature currently debating such a bill.

And hence, we debate. We debate what’s right. We debate who is right. And yes, sometimes intelligence seems to get in the way.

A week ago, longtime, well-known Washington Post journalist, Ruth Marcus, addressed the issue. Marcus is a woman the Intramuralist has long read and respected, as she is articulate, witty, and bright. She identifies as liberal with the Democratic Party (… and friends, for a more balanced perspective, please be reading people from both or multiple parties…).

While I respect Marcus’s support of abortion law, it was the following expression that made this parent pause:

“… I respect — I admire — families that knowingly welcome a baby with Down syndrome into their lives. Certainly, to be a parent is to take the risks that accompany parenting; you love your child for who she is, not what you want her to be.

But accepting that essential truth is different from compelling a woman to give birth to a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised. Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate cognitive impairment, meaning an IQ between 55 and 70 (mild) or between 35 and 55 (moderate). This means limited capacity for independent living and financial security; Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family.

I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted…”

As a person who made the choice not to abort my child with Downs, I appreciate Marcus’s admiration and respect. Now let me be blunt in response.

My child with Downs, Joshua, was not the child I wanted either.

I didn’t want a son whose intellectual capacity was impaired, whose life choices would be different than mine, nor one who had to deal with a life-threatening heart defect. I didn’t want that. For him or for me. In fact — let’s get real here — I actually prayed that Josh would not have Down syndrome.

But thank God sometimes His answer is different than we ask. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know how much this young man — who yes, is different than me — would teach me. I didn’t know how much I could learn from one whose IQ is significantly lower than mine. I didn’t know how impactful it would be to do life and raise a child with a disability. I didn’t know how much it would change me — and yes, how much I would grow from being changed. I had zero clue how vibrant the life and amazing the impact a person absent of high intellect could be.

The reality is that Josh is thriving. The reality also is that if I was not given the responsibility to parent young master Josh, I would know no more of life and God than I already do.

Thank God He did not answer my prayer the way I asked. Had Josh been any different, I would not be different. I would have grown less.

Instead, I’ve grown to be humbler, wiser, and far more empathetic and compassionate for others — for who they are and how they are born… all because of that one very special Joshua… that one extra chromosome… and a God who knew better than me.

Respectfully… always…
AR