“Hi, my name is Zane. And I was created by God to make a difference in the world.”
He makes me smile. His name says it all, it means, “God is gracious.” Yes, He is. God IS gracious. God is gracious to bring pure gifts into the world – like Zane. To know him is to love him. He makes the world a better place to all around. He has no enemies, only friends. He has no harsh words, only love. He carries no resentments, but quickly forgives. His smiles light up the room, his joy is contagious, his life is a gift. If you don’t have a Zane in your life – you should.
Maybe that’s why my heart was so moved as I read my friend’s words recently. Tears filled my eyes as I visualized this story of what a loving dad so painfully shared. “Surely no one could be so cruel,” I thought to myself, “not to a young child…a child who was simply trying to do his best to succeed.” I wondered what it was that God would do through this story, through his young life, how many eyes might be opened a little wider, how many hearts would be softened a bit more, how many people would choose to see things a little differently in the midst of their often too busy, competitive worlds.
Zane had begun taking taekwondo classes. Excited about his accomplishments, he was always eager to attend another class.
On one particular day, Darin wrote, “Unfortunately, taekwondo classes came to an abrupt halt tonight for me and the boys. Zane had a rough first half of class having trouble following directions. He accidentally lined up in the wrong spot on the floor for exercises, and became confused when he was told to move by the instructor (he thought he was in the right spot). So the instructor tried to physically move him. Startled by this, Zane ducked away out of his grasp. As the instructor became obviously more upset and impatient, he grabbed his arm and tried to pull him to his spot, as Zane fought him and tried to pull away. The instructor then loudly declared that he was not going to fight with Zane every night and yelled over to me, as I watched in stunned disbelief, that he was being sent home – all of this in front of a shocked crowd of 60+ children and parents. It became completely silent in the room. Except for my son Zane. Zane laid on the floor and cried.”
Darin said later that Zane had moved on from the hurtful event by bedtime. He had forgiven. He had let go. Amazing. Could it be that simple? Maybe not for all of us.
It hurt my heart for him, yet I felt so challenged by it all too. There’s much to be learned from his young life, much wisdom to be gleaned. From Zane. From his parents. From every child with special needs. From every parent of a special needs child. We must simply choose whether or not we’ll be wise enough to listen.
7 things that kids with special needs can teach the world, though there’s many more…
1. Forgive quickly – move on with life. People may not understand me all the time. That’s OK. I have too many other important things to do than to worry about that. I’ll choose to leave them in God’s hands.
2. Love unconditionally. This is the real kind of love that shines to all around you. The pure kind of love. The really powerful kind of love. People tell me it’s contagious.
3. Don’t judge people by how they look or by what’s on the outside. There could be a wonderful heart inside, and sometimes you may miss it, if you don’t take the time to look a little deeper.
4. Be a warrior and celebrate your victories. Fight hard to achieve, even though it may not seem so important to the world. It’s “big” to me, it took a long time for me to get there. Celebrate every milestone of success. In fact, we celebrate a lot.
5. Slow down. I may not move as fast as you. Sometimes you’re too busy, sometimes you’re too fast. Take the time to know me. I’m really cool. Get on my level. Look in my eyes. Listen to me. I have a lot to say even though my language may sound a little different from yours. I speak with my heart.
6. Be kind with your words. People tell me I’m amazing. People tell me I’m special. God tells me that all that time. I like that. There are other words that aren’t OK. Words that make kids with special needs feel bad. Words that make our parents feel sad. If we all stopped using those words, the world would be a happier place – for all of us.
7. Just be you. That’s it. It’s simple. It’s OK to just be who you are. Who you were created to be. God tells me that He can do great things through little things. Look at me. I’m little. And God is doing big things through me. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to try to be someone else. God made me perfectly and He doesn’t make mistakes. And God made you perfectly too. Sometimes you’re too hard on yourself. Say God’s words to your heart, “you are awesome, you are valuable, you are special, you have purpose, you are not a mistake, you are amazing, you have my blessings, you will do great things.”
I look at this list, and it still seems inadequate, so abbreviated. It could be much longer. There is much to learn from watching kids who know what it is to have constant challenges in life, who understand the struggle to achieve. But what seems to be the common bond in all of these things, amidst the reality of obstacles in life, is simply this – it communicates the very heart of God.
God shines on them. His heart is within them. He has indeed blessed them – to see differently than the world sees. He has given them a great gift. That is a treasure we can glean from.
Learn from the special needs families in your life. Love them. Value them. Cheer for them. Fight for them. Support them. Encourage them.
It is guaranteed – your life will be greatly enriched. You will begin to see things differently – through the eyes of a special child.
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.” Psalms 139:13-16