Yesterday in a store parking lot I was chased down by a woman who asked to pray for my son. I had Chad with me and my grandson who is 8 mos. I knew she meant Chad and assumed, perhaps, she had a soft spot for people who have Down Syndrome.
She proceeded to tell me there was a website that tells of people being “healed” down to the cellular level with Down Syndrome. She touched him, said a one sentence prayer and quickly went on her way. I was so stunned I didn’t say anything. Here’s what I wish I’d have said.
1. You addressed me and talked over my son and by doing that you immediately demonstrated that you did not consider him a fully human person who should be spoken to directly as any adult should.
2. By telling me you wanted to change him to his cellular level you told me he was a mistake. From the moment of conception you think God created a mistake.
3. You never asked me if I thought Chad needed to be “fixed”. By the way, I do not. He is happy, healthy and his family loves him exactly as he is. We would miss much of what makes Chad, well, Chad if you had your way.
4. We know many other people do not find him worthy just as he is and show it in many of the same ways you did, but you thought you were being kind and helpful and Christlike which, to me, makes it even worse. You used prayer as a weapon to inflict emotional pain rather than an instrument of peace.
5. If you were bound and determined to “hunt” down someone whose child had DS, I’m so grateful you chose me. How devastating it would be for young parents learning and coping with an unexpected diagnosis to have you approach them and tell them if they just prayed they could change it all. I know a little something about people implying if only you prayed harder, or the right way, your child would get better. You create more pain than you will likely ever know.
6. If I would have had to explain to Chad what our encounter was about it would have broken my heart. How do you tell someone that this stranger thinks you are imperfect and need to be fixed. On the other hand, had he understood, I suspect my words would have come to me quite quickly to immediately counteract her hurtful words.
It frustrates me to think she is likely excitedly telling her friends about our encounter without realizing the consequences of her actions, but maybe this will stop someone else from making the same mistake.
Now, excuse me while I go enjoy a superhero movie with my Chad. You haven’t lived until you see the joy he takes in his superheroes. Perfection.