I know everyone thinks that about their child but this little lady has defied the odds, captured hearts and blessed so many. That is why it is hard for some to believe that there are places that this sweet soul is not as welcome as you might think.
To be completely open, no one would come out and say she isn’t welcome. Its just that it is too much of a strain on resources to include her. Some believe that she is more work than they can handle and others are just not sure she gets anything out of it so why bother. I have a few reasons why we should ALL bother to make sure every child gets included!
In no particular order, it benefits every child in the room. If part of education (church or academics) is to expand the knowledge of our children, why not allow them to really know that there are so many things to learn from someone different from us? Why not give them opportunities to show kindness to someone who will greatly benefit even if they can’t reciprocate.
Jesus said “..whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45) So if you don’t make The Princess welcome, are you making Jesus welcome? Lets be honest, if Jesus was in the flesh at this time in history and He walked in your church, would you stick Him in the back so He wouldn’t distract anyone? Would you look away or would you greet Him? I am positive that people would fall all over themselves to make Him feel welcome.
Remember the man whose friends wanted to take Him to see Jesus but they couldn’t get through the crowd? Luke 5:17-19 says that when they couldn’t find a way in they opened the roof and lowered him down on his mat to make sure he could get in to see Jesus. His friends wouldn’t allow him to be left out.
We had a wonderful trip to Walt Disney World in December. The Princess had several experiences that made the trip unforgettable. Like Disneyland, they bent over backwards to make sure that she doesn’t get left out of anything. They accommodated her chair whenever possible and when it wasn’t, they found another way for her to be included. No one ever acted as if it was a burden but a privilege to meet her needs and include her. The sad reality is, this is the exception, not the rule.
The Princess is 11 years old. Up until a couple of years ago, she had been invited to two birthday parties in her entire life. One for a school friend (a typical child in the class she is included in) and one for the granddaughter of a dear friend who is more like family than anyone.
It wasn’t because there weren’t other children her age having parties. On the contrary, we were present many times when the other children at church were receiving their invitations. We were included in conversations with other parents about these wonderful parties filled with happy, giggling little girls who dressed in party dresses, played games while the parents enjoyed eachother’s company. Often after the fact but never with an apology or acknowledgement that The Princess might enjoy being at a party as well.
One day I mentioned in passing The Princess enjoyed parties. We began being included from the little ones to the oldest of her grandchildren. They even made sure that the party favors included a bag of something she could enjoy. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been wanted, it was because it hadn’t been mentioned.
Sometimes, it just needs to be said. Someone needs to hear that our exceptional children would enjoy being involved in various activities and it will open up the door that will bless many. In some cases, it will take much more than that. It will take some convincing. Some friends may need to break through some tiles in the ceiling to make sure the ones who need it get what they need. Either way, we all benefit.