My little girl is visually impaired and learning impaired. She wears thick, pop bottle-bottomed glasses that make her beautiful brown eyes appear ten times their normal size. She is a head shorter than the other children her age, and is fragile and frailly built. She attends special classes at school – those that help her learn the way she learns, not the way the rest of the “normal” children learn.
Although she tries hard every day to be a good friend to everyone, her impairments cloud their judgements, and she is teased and ostracized. She is not given a chance to prove what a wonderful little girl she is. Unfortunately, most children’s “first impressions” are visual, and my little one appears different at first glance.
She has two friends who play with her occasionally, but even they are swayed by the gang mentality at times, running from her on the playground if one of the popular kids “catches” them playing with my child, the outcast.
Because her heart must break on a daily basis, as her mom, so does mine. I fear she may never come to know the true meaning of friendship, since the examples shown her recently have not been stellar. I worry that her heart will become cold. I wonder if bitterness and resentment will be the result of her socialization in a world of children who can’t accept her limitations.
Although she plants her feet and screams that she doesn’t want to go to school each and every day to face the insanity that is her little life, she eventually finds the courage to take my hand and lead me into the den of fire she must face. With a tear in her eyes and a deep breath, she waves goodbye to me at the school’s door, and I return home to hug her Mr. Bear, smell her scent on his fur, and pray for this child whom I ask God to protect and make an instrument of His love.
Thrilled to be released from her miniature prison, she comes home smiling every day, never failing to give me a hug of relief and a handmade letter or card that simply says, “I luv yoo, Moomy!” Since I can see her brilliance and radiance in her heart from a mile away, I don’t understand how children, who are supposed to be altruistic and see the best in everyone, are blinded to the sunshine in my baby just because of her awkwardness.
Every day for the past few years, before the sun rises, I get on my knees and ask God to help her. “Please, Lord,” I cry, “send your angels to watch over my girl. Remind her of Your never-ending love when she feels most alone. Touch your healing hand to her broken heart when she feels most hurt. Build her up with your assurance when she feels most defeated. Lord, help me to help her find her way in a place where her path is so defiled by ignorance. And finally, forgive the children, Lord, for they know not what they do.”
Each night, after reading to my little daughter, we hold hands and pray. Last night, God spoke to me through my daughter’s prayers, as I heard my own prayers echoed through her sweet lips. It took everything I had not to cry as I heard her whisper in sincere reverence, “God bless those who purposely leave me out and ignore me, and those who don’t really know me and call me names. They are the ones who need You the most. Help me to help them. Amen.”
Now I know why my child comes home smiling: She has not learned of bitterness, but of forgiveness. She has not learned to live in fear, but in confidence of The Master’s love for her. She has not accepted her limitations but has learned to rise above them. She has not learned to hate those who would persecute her, but has learned that the power of prayer is a healing thing, more powerful than any handicap.
And I have learned to let go and let God continue to be there in my place, protecting her from the enemy at every turn. So this morning, instead of turning around and crying as she made her way through the school’s doorway, I rejoiced.