Perfect love casts out fear

October 21st, 2010

“If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve around myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have ‘a heart at leisure from itself,’ then I know nothing of Calvary love.”  ~Amy Carmichael

There’s a big test coming up for me this weekend.

Will I pass?  Have I put enough study in?   Enough drill?  My knees are getting wobbly.  Maybe a little more review is in order.

Okay, back to the beginning.  Remember this list?  These were my very first fears about Down syndrome.

“Others will not love her.”

“They will reject her.”

“They will think she is not worth as much as ‘normal’ children.”

“They will not celebrate her birth.”

“They will think she is ugly.”

“They will feel uncomfortable around her.”

“They will avoid us.”

“They will feel sorry for us.”

“They will say we pushed our luck too far and got what we had coming to us.”

Hmmmm, what do those statements all have in common?

Other People.

I have not feared Down syndrome itself so much as how it is viewed by Other People.

When I took Verity to the eye doctor the other week, she was at her worst–eyes crossing and turning red in her efforts to fill her diaper, which she did with many grunts and toots and smells.  And of course, her tongue seemed to be showing the whole time, especially if anyone looked at her, and of course, everyone looked at her.  She’s a baby, after all!

It was obvious to me that none of the staff or other waiting patients was warming up to her, but to be fair, she couldn’t possibly have cooperated less with my public relations efforts on her behalf!

Eventually I just laughed and gave up.  After all, I thought, what can I do?  The worst result is that they’ll feel sorry for the mom with the “Down’s baby.”  Can I handle that?  At least they can see that I love and value and enjoy her all to pieces!

The next evening, I met an older couple who said, “Oh, a baby!” and came right up to admire her, oohing and aahing.  I held her up proudly and said, with a beaming smile, “Isn’t she beautiful?  She has Down syndrome.  We are enjoying her so much!”  (Ahem)

The wife’s face froze with shock.  She leaned over and peered into Verity’s face, scrutinizing.  She stated in a flat tone, “Yes, I can see the Down’s.  I used to work at a home for handicapped, and there were some Down’s there.”  And backed off quickly with the shutters down behind her eyes.  She spent the rest of the visit obviously wishing she was elsewhere.   But I didn’t know her, life moved on, and the little pang inside me faded quickly.

She grew up in the day when people with Down syndrome were called “Mongoloid idiots,” considered incapable of learning, and kept out of the public eye.  And now she lives in a day when people with Down syndrome are called “retards,” considered not worth teaching, and aborted before they reach the public eye.  She is the one who is missing out.  She closed the door to a little more love in her life.

But what will my response be to those who objectively should know better?  Christians who have walked with the Lord for many years?  After a lifetime of soaking in the Word, who still believe that children are burdens and not blessings from the Lord?  That it would be better if “flawed” children weren’t here at all?

Okay Susanna, time for a pop quiz.

Question:  Who chose to give you a child with a diagnosis that carries a visible, public stigma?

Answer:  The God Who knows that I need to learn to be forgiving, gracious and patient toward those who are unkind.

Question:  Isn’t there ever an exception to this requirement?  Maybe for sensitive mothers?

Answer:  No.

Question:  Has God instructed you to make sure other people understand and accept you or your children?

Answer:  No.  He has instructed me to count others as more significant than myself.  Like the One who made himself nothing and took the form of a servant.

Question:  Well then, doesn’t He want you to change their minds so that they agree with the truth?

Answer:  No, that is His territory.  He has commanded me to walk in the light and speak the truth in love.  He may use me, or not, as He chooses.

Question:  What if they are Christians?  Don’t you deserve better treatment from them?

Answer:  Deserve? I deserve the lake of fire for my sin against a holy God.  I was rescued from that fate by Jesus’ death in my place.  If my heart is overflowing with thankfulness for such a great salvation, I am going to forgive my brothers and sisters as God forgave me for Christ’s sake.  Unless I want a root of bitterness to spring up and cause trouble.

Question:  Don’t you have the right to feel superior because you see a truth that they cannot see?

Answer:  Not unless I am the source of the truth or have gotten it by my own great wisdom, strength and goodness.  If I had reason for confidence in the flesh, I count it as loss, as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own.  Just like every other believer.

Question:  So what should your response be when you see others draw back at the sight of your daughter’s face?

Answer:  To go to Jesus outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured.  He was out there loving people, not nursing His wounds.  My heart is nowhere near being capable of this.  My heart loves to love itself.  May His love be perfected in me.

Question:  Why?  Why not stand on your “right” to take offense at the ignorance?  What is life all about if it’s not about you and your feelings?

Answer:  “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me.”

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17 Responses to “Perfect love casts out fear”

  1. Sandie says:

    I’m sorry that happened.  That generation missed out on so much joy.  And for every one person that has a negative reaction, there will be 5 that will gush over Verity’s cuteness.  There will be many who share how someone in thier life with Ds has blessed them.

  2. Amy says:

    *gulp* Thank you, Susanna! Those questions are good for us ALL in EVERY situation. (((HUGS))) & a kiss for Verity!

  3. Lauri (Kozimom) says:

    Oh my goodness!  I don’t know how anyone could not long to pick Verity up and hug her – she’s so adorable!  My 12 yo dd and I were scrolling through all your pictures of her on here the other day and and just enjoying looking at her sweet self! 
    Also there is a young mom at our church with a little boy who has Down’s, and I have never noticed anything but looks of love and joy by the people in our congregation.  Even when he’s being a little disruptive – sometimes I’ve thought that the people wish the Pastor would stop preaching and just let everyone watch little Jordan!

  4. Kisha says:

    Boy do I know the worry of how other’s will look at my two.  I was so scared for them to come to America and face the crowd.  There have been a few bad comments, but I’m so excited about the overwhelming love that people show my children.  Most people are drawn to their smiles and the hugs.  Anna went to school this week due to some needs we had, and I was so nervous about what the students would think of her.  Apparently they all love her, she’s won everyone’s heart in only three days.  I think those kids will in turn grow up with compassion towards individuals with Down syndrome.  There is an older generation that didn’t have that exposure to the awesomeness of children with Down syndrome being a part of society, and they didn’t get the same compassion and acceptance as this new generation will.  That just makes me sad for them.  Oh and Verity is soooooo adorable.

  5. Lisa says:

    Amen and thank you for sharing this.  (And for reminding me to pick up “If”…I was just thinking of it the other day :)

  6. Marilyn Osborn says:

    Amen.  ((((((hug))))))))

  7. greta says:

    there is freedom in knowing these biblical truths…and the truth sets us free! :)….when I taught the high school kids with DS they were all different from each other but each one was equally enjoyed and loved by the staff and students :) They brought an unencumbered joy of life to my ‘burdened’ one ;).  Freedom seemed to come naturally to them…and to me, that was a beautiful reminder of how God wants us to be! I love you! Give Verity a kiss from me!

  8. Rachael says:

    This may very well be the best thing I’ve read in ages. What a beautiful mama’s heart that seeks after the Father’s heart in everything she does.

  9. Erin says:

    My favorite post to date, and Oh how this challenges me, as I read this women’s response my blood pressure rose, then I read your questions and answers, it is so very very true. Why then as a mother and a follower of Christ is it so hard to wrap our minds around this. eeek! Thank you for posting this, I am going to repost this online I think. I am so blessed by your understandings and wisdom.

  10. Carolyn Montonati says:

    Thanks for this Susanna, for writing this.  So many times, I want to stand on my “rights” as a mother to be insulting back at someone, or more likely, to harbor bitterness and resentment towards people who’ve said hurtful things.  To go to Jesus and bear the reproach that He bore — these are words I needed to hear again!
    Blessings,
    Carolyn (cairogirl and Jacob’s mommy from Babycenter)

  11. Tara says:

    Oh, wow! This is so hugely convicting. Thank you so much for it! Youch. :) I think I’ll print it out and put it on my fridge.

  12. Joy Horton says:

    Ditto Erin to the letter. Thank you for this post, Susanna. I SO needed to hear this right now!!!!

    I really, really believe that your love for Verity will stick in this woman’s mind. She’s not used to seeing that sort of love, obviously, and I REALLY felt, while reading your post, that God will use and water the seed you planted.

    ((((((((((((((((Hugs)))))))))))))))))))

  13. Always blessed to read.  May the Lord’s peace flood your soul this weekend.  :)  Verity is so blessed to have you for her mama.  ((hugs))

  14. Lara Font says:

    Susanna – thank you for the post, the sting of that woman hurt my heart as a mom whose felt it herself, but your words were such a blessing at a time when I needed to hear them!  You’ve blessed me today!

  15. Adrienne says:

    Wow, great post!  Thanks for sharing this!

  16. Tara says:

    Just wanted you to know…I linked this post on my blog. It’s very powerful, Susanna. Thanks, again, for sharing!

  17. Jessica Wekke says:

    Again, another belated comment, but I think she’s precious.

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