TW: Spiritual Abuse
God doesn’t make junk. Period. End of story. No debate needed. Every child born, every adult creation is precious and highly valuable in the Imago Dei, the image of God. Full Stop. If you want to push my buttons, imply that my children are less than that standard.
It’s 9:30 p.m. and I took a quick break from working ahead on my to do list to share some words. I saw a tweet featuring a “pastor” talk about how children with such challenges as epilepsy and autism are demon-possessed.
True, I didn’t see the full sermon to see context, but as someone with some history with fundamentalist beliefs, I know what road that sermon came down and where it headed. And, the capture was enough that the statement could stand on its own.
My mind flashed back to the time, at a previous church environment, where a pastor took me aside for a counseling session. His purpose was to discourage my wife and I from becoming foster parents, as doing so would be terribly hard and unwise.
His rationale was that in his former profession he worked with children from hard places and children who had mental health and behavioral disorders. It was his opinion that working with such children would constitute a waste of time as those types of kids are already damaged goods with no hope for healing.
While it has been hard, terribly hard at times, it is one of the wisest things we’ve ever done. And we’ve witnessed healing, so much healing.
I will repeat: No child is a damaged good. Especially a child that has a genetic condition, or was exposed to drug use in the womb, or who is dealing with forms of abuse far, far beyond their body and mind’s ability to cope. Imagine the change in the world if we stopped condemning these created ones out of our own ignorance and turned our energy to working with them and surrounding their parents with love and support.
On the spectrum of Christianity, I am biblically conservative. I believe that things such as demons and demonic influences are real, present and active in our world. Funny enough that is the sermon Pastor Curtis Andrusko preached in church this morning. For Christians, though, it is just as dangerous to believe that there is a demon in every thing and person as to believe that it is fairytale hogwash.
This hateful rhetoric is highly damaging to parents doing the hard work of caring for children with intense special needs. We already feel a high pressure to fit in, to be normal or to “hide our crazy,” as it is said here in the South. This leads to isolation, it leads to lack of community of support and yes, also lack of trust in faith leaders that don’t have a clue to what we experience.
But God, so rich in mercy, and with an exciting air of mystery, decided to bless us with children who have special qualities. He didn’t choose to reveal the why, but in his stories to us, time and time again, we have a picture of a gracious loving God who can handle our tough questions, our hurts and our doubts.
And, this is why, I believe whole-heartedly that those of us who claim to value life so passionately, must not relinquish that passion at birth, but maintain it through every stage and challenge of life until death returns souls to the eternal. If we practice what we preach, our true message will be that life is valuable because God doesn’t craft junk.