“Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us instead.” — Unknown
I have traveled the globe many times — enough to know that the world comes in many shapes, colors, and sizes. We are all different, especially when it comes to our children.
If you follow me at all, you already know that children hold a deep and special place in my heart. You know that I see children as more than our future but the very heart and soul of who we are. They are our greatest teachers and sweet reminders that, in the eyes of God, we are all children — innocent, full of joy and love. If we let them, children will show us the way back to our true selves. They will lead us to the happiness and peace we seek.
In short, children are magic. They are why a pregnant woman glows. She is filled with promise, hope, and the Divinity of the Universe. It is why the passing world will stop and smile at a pregnant woman, touch her belly, and maybe ask her when she’s due, or how she’s feeling, or if she knows whether she’s going to have a boy or girl. The expecting mother will smile back and usually say something like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter, as long as the child is healthy.”
Healthy is a tricky word. It is a label we often put on someone else, one that makes us think of other labels, like good or bad, happy or sad, right or wrong. And of course, we all wish for healthy children. It is only natural. No parent (or adult) wants to see a child struggle to walk, hear, talk, see, or be able to function in the same way as other children. We’d like to hope our children will fit in and be accepted like everyone else.
And, yet, it is a fact of life that all across the world, there are children with varying degrees of disabilities. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you may even admit to watching them with a tinge of sadness, or perhaps even looking away, as if the Universe made a mistake. Maybe you look upon them with gratitude that your child is different.
It is human nature. But, make no mistake about it; it is not our Divine nature. Our Divine nature sees no difference. Sees no mistake. Sees only love.
A child may be disabled and have to struggle in one way or another, but so do we all, at least at some point in our lives. It is inevitable. It comes with being in a physical body. Sometimes this struggle will be invisible; sometimes, it won’t be. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
Our lesson is simple: in order for us to live from our Divine Self, we need to see from the viewpoint of our Divine Self. Ask any parent who has a child with a disability, and they will undoubtedly tell you they only have one wish — that their child is treated like everyone else. What they are saying is, they want you to see their child as God sees their child. With love.
And herein lies the secret of a spiritual life. We must begin to see that we are all the same. The trappings of our physical bodies are an illusion.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always seem that way. We have been taught from an early age to only see what makes us different — the color of our skin, our nationality, our religion, the size of our bank accounts, the degree of education we have, or the abilities we possess (or don’t possess). When we only think of our differences, it’s easy to put our children into neat little boxes and start comparing how one child is different from another and then, even worse, to label those differences as good or bad.
As I travel from country to country, I have met children with all different kinds of abilities (and disabilities). I have held them close in my arms, and here is what I have found:
If we allow ourselves to get close to all children, on our knees even, and look them straight in the eyes with an open heart, we will see for ourselves that there are no mistakes. We will see that all children, regardless of their abilities, want the same thing — to laugh and be silly, to feel joy and connection, to smile, to hug, to feel like they belong. They want to be happy. To know peace. To find God.
And do you know what else they want? They want to reach out and make you happy as well.
In short, they want to be like every other child of God.
Remember, God doesn’t give special kids to special parents. He takes ordinary, imperfect people, and gifts them with his greatest treasures. And therein, he creates special parents.