Those days were hard..are hard. I wanted desperately for others to see my son for who he was when I struggled to do the same. I truly never believed that I would ever be able to look at him and not remember that he had Down syndrome. I knew without a doubt that I would always, always love him and that we would always push him to do big things but I just couldn't see how I would ever not look at him and remember his extra chromosome.
A couple months ago, something I thought would never, could never happen did. I looked at my boy and I began to forget about his diagnosis. I even began to have days where I wouldn't think about Down syndrome at all. It dawned on me that I finally understood what those other moms meant. I saw him for his spicy attitude, sweet spirit, and courageous heart. I saw him for his ability to fight for what he wants, his love for people, and how he loves to raise his hands and worship in church. God likes to move mountains despite me sometimes. I think He knows that's when I see Him best.
Many times when new people meet Cash, they comment on his bright red hair and toothy smile. In our conversations, I often find myself at some point mentioning that he has Down syndrome because I don't know if they can tell. My image of him is so separate from his diagnosis now that I honestly have to remind myself that most people see those beautiful almond eyes and know immediately. I find myself praying they'll give him a chance. That they won't immediately put him in a box of happy, angelic humans limited to child-like emotions. That they'll believe with me for big dreams. That they'll see him with clear eyes.
Many of society's recent events has made me think back to those feelings. The days when I only saw Down syndrome. When I was a "surface see-er" rather than a "soul see-er." We often let our sinfulness occupy our judgement. We see someone's color and put them in a prejudged box that limits the impact they can have on us. We see special needs, age, physical impairments, political affiliation and forget about the person, the soul. We hurry along, trying now to make eye contact for fear of how we might make them feel. That's what I did and still do, sometimes. What if, instead, we gave them Cash's toothy smile or even asked them about their day...about their story. What if we became better "soul see-ers."
Most people won't get to have Down syndrome in their life and learn all the things I've been able to learn. I used to hate those two words. Some days I still do. But I look at how much I've learned, how much better I see, how much deeper I love and I'm so thankful for it. You're sneaky, Jesus. You know just what we need to mold us to be more like You.
I challenge you to find someone so different from you today and try to see their soul. Shake their hand (though I prefer hugs :)), show them some love, remind them they are valuable, and listen to their story. If we want change, we have to be change. It starts in our own hearts.