When Bryan was born, many exclaimed “You were blessed by God with this angel from heaven!” Unfortunately, I was not feeling that way at the time. Many other thoughts swirled around in my mind – angel was not one of them. The voices continued…”God knew you would be good parents for him. That’s why he was sent to you”. And…”‘These kids’ are all so loving and affectionate.” I guess everyone was trying to make me feel better. It didn’t work.
I don’t feel like God was sitting in His Heaven, looking down upon the earth, scratching his proverbial chin with the long white beard and looking for just the perfect parents to select for a Down Syndrome child. “Ah, yes. The Johnsons. Perfect parents!” BINGO! Bryan is sent down to us by Divine Providence, carried by an angelic stork.
Now, I believe God has established rules upon the earth which He created. Scientific rules. One of those rules is that sometimes when an egg and a sperm unite, three copies instead of two of chromosome 21 are found in each cell as it divides to make a human being. No one knows what causes this to happen. There was nothing I did to cause it. It is a natural anomaly.
What I now say to those well-meaning people is that I don’t believe God visited this upon us because we’d be good parents. But he does equip us with the tools, strength, knowledge and love to overcome the challenges, climb the mountains and do the best we can while sailing uncharted waters. With God at the helm, life becomes more navigable. The stormy seas are calmed.
To help me navigate in the early days, I read a book by Dale Evans of ‘Roy Rogers and Dale Evans’ fame entitled “Angel Unaware”. Even though the book was from the 50’s, it gave me perspective on what a new mother experiences when beginning life with a “differently abled” child. The scripture from which the title is taken reads: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13.2.
Is Bryan a gift from God? Absolutely! All children are. Is he an angel sent to earth? I doubt it. However, there’s a part of me that wants to believe than in loving and caring for Bryan, I am “Entertaining angels unawares”. Does he teach me things that bring me closer to God, pointing the way to heaven? Always.