by Anna Higgins
October 17, 2013
Perfection is a ghost. Many of us pursue it all our lives in our own strength, only to find it unattainable. We keep our faults hidden and run from those who are less than our image of “perfection.” This attitude can be deadly.
Most of us are woefully ignorant of the fact that the “imperfect” — children with disabilities — are targeted for elimination prior to birth. Over 90% of preborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. This staggering statistic reveals that as a society, we have done little to protect the most innocent among us. We have neglected to take a stand for those with no voice and neglected to teach our children that people with differences are just as valuable as anyone else and deserve protection and respect.
It is heart-wrenching to think that abortion, coupled with the negative attitude towards persons with disabilities, has robbed countless parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other family members of the joys and challenges of raising and loving a person with Down Syndrome. In our pursuit of perfection, we cast aside parts of ourselves and others that we deem substandard. In so doing, we unknowingly discard life’s most valuable treasures. It is most often in our weaknesses that true grace is revealed.
The apostle Paul revealed in 2 Corinthians that he suffered from what he called “a thorn in the flesh.” Despite Paul’s pleadings, the Lord chose not to remove it from him, but instead display His grace through the weakness. Paul responds in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Without that “thorn,” Paul may have never experienced the fullness of that grace and strength.
ESPN recently posted an “E:60” video on YouTube highlighting the story of Heath White, competitive runner and Air Force pilot, who was faced a few years ago with the news that his unborn child had Down Syndrome. Heath, who was accustomed to setting and achieving lofty goals, candidly admits his desire to abort the child who he knew would be less than “perfect.” His wife also describes her struggle in wanting to keep her baby and save her marriage. The result was a change of heart for Heath, embodied in an emotional and inspiring letter he wrote to his daughter, Paisley. His bold honesty and acceptance of Paisley is encouraging and counter-cultural. He came to the realization that Paisley is just like every other kid — worthy of love and acceptance. Their story is one of deep pain, resilience, and beauty.
Perfection existed only in one person, Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we are made whole. Jesus often chooses the weak to instruct the strong, and the words of children to teach those who are wise in their own eyes. I pray that we can learn to cherish what we consider “imperfect” and learn to live contentedly in the amazing grace offered by Christ alone.