Our family is fairly involved with kids with disabilities. My husband and I are on the board of Young Life Capernaum, an incredible outreach to high school kids with special needs. Our daughter, Stephanie, works full-time with Friends Life for young adults with special needs and volunteers with YL Capernaum.
But at the risk of being embarrassingly honest here, I need to admit that when I first meet someone who is “disabled” I’m often uncomfortable. Sometimes I look away, not sure what the polite thing is to do. I don’t want to seem like I’m staring, yet I want to make eye contact to let them know I am trying to see them as a person, not as a person with a disability.
Catherine Lewis, in her story of her son Rex, she gives me an exceptional gift. She lets me take a long look and see who her child is, who she is, and even who God is – without being uncomfortable.
Rex is a boy who is not only blind and autistic, but who also happens to be a musical savant. (His story has been featured on 60 Minutes twice.) Rex’s mom, with candid and exposed emotions, shares how her world was rocked to desperate despair when her child was diagnosed with severe, multiple disabilities, and she asked the question many of us ask, “What was God thinking?”
And although her experiences with her child were many times exasperating beyond comprehension, her son’s extraordinary gift of music drew her to the conclusion that the answer itself was quite simple: love.
I wasn’t expecting to be drawn into this book like I was. I was captivated. Reading Rex’s story help me to do what a good book should – I was able to see inside of their world and have my heart changed. So now when I look at a child, a young adult, a mom or a family of a child with special needs, I can look with a little more understanding and compassion and see that sometimes extraordinary comes in unexpected places.