Last night during dinner I met the tangible love of Jesus.
She was sitting next to me in her high chair, and she reached out her little arms towards me. I leaned in for a hug. But before I could leave her embrace, she stopped me a few inches from her face. She put her hands on my cheeks very softly and just smiled at me, looking deep deep into my eyes...way past my eyes and into my soul. I can honestly say that it was one of the times in my life when I felt most loved for just being plain ol' me. She smiled and did a throat noise that meant, "My whole being loves you." As long as I live, that moment will be etched in my memory. In that space in time I experienced one of the purest forms of love that one human can have for another. And I choked on the lump in my throat as it hit me: "Lord, You sent this child to teach me how to love."
Our journey to our youngest child was a long bumpy road that led all the way to an orphanage in Taiwan. She has Down Syndrome, which meant that the odds were not in her favor in her home country. We knew God was calling us to step forward to adopt her as our daughter. We knew He was calling us to love her.
But what we didn't know was how little we really knew about love. It took us by surprise that this child we set out to love was the very one who is teaching us how to truly love. The kind of love that she naturally gives to us...the way she intuitively pats our backs when we are sad, the way she tries to smile even when she isn't feeling well, the way she stops a hundred times a day to just come hug us...and the way she took my face in her hands last night and taught me some fundamentals of love. It's the simplicity of not only making eye contact but looking past the eyes and into the inner person...and accepting with joy what you find inside that person (no matter what mess you may see in them). It's making someone else feel like they are the most important and cherished person on the planet.
I had to ask myself the question: How many times have I loved my children that way? My husband? My friends? My parents? The needy person I'm supposedly "helping"? How many people have felt as deeply cherished as I felt last night with those precious messy hands on my face? I'd venture to guess zero.
I want to be more like my daughter. Some may say she has a syndrome that makes her different. And I say YES, thank the good Lord that she is beautifully different! If only the whole world could experience that kind of love!