I remember that growing up without a mom was only really significant when someone else defined to me that it was different. Sure there were things that I missed out on that shaped who I am but from my perception, my normal was me and my dad. That was only bad when not having a mom caused me to feel left out like when someone had a mother/daughter tea that I wasn't invited to. I was too young when she died to remember and miss her personally, so all I could miss was her role and I couldn't miss what I did not know. Does that make sense?
So this week I have been thinking on this idea of how we view disability and blessing and what the arbitrary definition of "normal" has to do with that.
Neither Ruthie nor Jack ever complain about being different because it has not been pointed out to them by their peers, yet that their disability is something to be grieved. They see their bodies as normal as they understand it and have experienced it personally. And I think we are all very similar until we choose to let our environment tell us something different.
When we perceive that we have suffered some wrong or injustice, we evaluate that based on how we see its deviation from normal as we have defined it. I have dozens of examples but here are just a few:
1. Were you inconvenienced by having to stop and eat 3 meals today? Probably not because that is normal for you, but a person with a blood sugar disorder who is required to eat more frequently like 6 meals a day might see that as an inconvenience or disability because it deviates from normal. Give a Haitian 6 meals in one day and they will call it a blessing.
2. I follow a blog where a little girl with hand deformity was recently united with her Forever Family. A few weeks after being home she began grieving her hand. Being in the presence of her "normal" siblings and out of the orphanage with other handicapped children, redefined her concept of normal and changed her perception of her body.
I have been thinking on this all week and trying to answer the question of, "How does this affect how I parent two children with special needs?"
I think I am getting there but before God gives me the answers, He wanted me to view this from one more perspective. I met a man today who has a condition that prevents him from feeling pain. I was in awe and borderline making a fool of myself in front of him as I asked him question after question about his condition. What shocked me at first was his lack of enthusiasm for what I perceived was an incredible gift. And then it hit me in light of my thinking this week: THIS IS HIS NORMAL! He can't understand and fully embrace the gift of not feeling pain because he has never felt it and doesn't know what he is missing. At this point he can either live in his understanding of normal, based on his personal experience, or embrace the world's definition and respond appropriately.
So that opened up a whole new can of questions like,
- When looking at their blessings and disabilities, where do I do a better job at helping my children evaluate their circumstances (as they compare to "normal") and define themselves?
- What should we use as our reference to help our children define normal as it relates to what they have and don't have?
- How does this affect how I relate to the commands of scripture to not covet, envy, ...?