My kids are VeggieTales fanatics. Our oldest son became acquainted with them at the tender age of 2. My sister-in-law introduced him to the characters while we were all visiting a bookstore. A month or two later, we rented "Josh and the Big Wall". We have been hooked ever since! Each video is full of silliness and funny lines. But there are biblical principles that people of any age can grasp. (Now if I could just get the "Lance the Turtle" song out of my head! LOL)
As an aside, I just finished reading the book Me, Myself, & Bob, which was written by Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales. I highly recommend it.
Back to the subject at hand. At the end of each video, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber share a verse from the Bible, which reminds the viewers of the lessons the stories taught. As it concludes, Bob and/or Larry always say, "Remember: God made you special and He loves you very much."
I have really been struggling with the reality of this in our oldest son's life. He is a sweet, caring, intelligent boy. Yet there are characteristics that many would label "not normal". I know the definition of "normal" varies from person to person. That's not the point here, though. My struggle with all of this is how to help my son live as normally as possible, in spite of the differences that are part of who he is. I haven't figured it all out. But I do know God has a glorious purpose for this young man's life, which will become more evident as he seeks God and grows into that place God has set aside for him.
You see, our son is a special gift from God. I know. I know. ALL children are a gift from God. Let me elaborate, though.
We were married in 1989. We were young, right out of college, and seeking God's direction. We figured we should wait at least 1-2 years before having children--until we were "ready". However, things didn't go quite according to our plan. After over 5 years of marriage, still no baby. The week before Mother's Day that year, while attending a ministers' conference, we stood for prayer for healing. We didn't know why we had no child. And no one else knew why we were asking for prayer...they just prayed. I won't go into the turmoil and grief we were going through. It is sufficient to say that Mother's Day, 1995, was the worst Mother's Day I have ever experienced. I was childless, and living several states away from my own mom. A few weeks later, while attending another ministers' gathering, a friend made a comment about childless couples that was less than uplifting. I spent the next 10-15 minutes in the ladies' room, crying my eyes out. My husband and I took a long walk after that, and committed it all to the Lord. Within 2 weeks, on our 6th anniversary, we sat in a doctor's office awaiting some test results. The words of the nurse, "It's positive!" were music to our ears. We were finally going to have a baby! Our prayers had been answered. The next day was Father's Day! How great is God's timing?!
That was almost 12 years ago. Since then, God has given us another son. Both of our boys are special blessings to us in so many ways.
Our oldest son has shown "differences" since he was a little over 1 yr. old. He began showing signs of being intelligent. (He knew his colors by age 18 mos.; his alphabet--to say and read--by 2 yrs.) By the age of 2 1/2, he could memorize whole books, word for word. He could memorize whole VeggieTale videos, word for word. He has this incredible memory of events, too. I call him my "walking calendar". If I want to know when something took place, I just ask. He usually knows the year--sometimes the month and day! He amazes me continually.
And yet there are these other characteristics that have been puzzling. I won't go into all of it. It is enough to say he is "different" in some ways.
Why do I bring this up? Because I know there are many, many parents out there who have children who are "different" in some way, like our son. I read a quote today from a woman whose son is autistic. She labeled her own son in the following way.
“Parenting a child with autism, in many ways, is like parenting a child who is alive but dead at the same time,” she says. “The body is there, but the senses are gone. It’s a loss."
What a sad way to view her own child.
I know there are children with severe disabilities. Yet their lives give so much to those around them. They are gifts to us all.
I never want my son to view himself as less than "normal". I want him to see himself as the gift he is. A special gift God gave to my husband and me.
So today, to my son, I say:
God made you special, and He loves you very much.
Let's try it this way:
God made you special, and WE love you very much!