You may or may not be raising a child who is differently-abled.
But if you have ever loved a child, any child, you will connect
to the extraordinary events that unfolded among these
3rd & 4th graders at a sunny Saturday football game
on an ordinary October morning in Michigan.
Game 5 of 6, Home Field:
“Run, Jimmy, Run!”
My ears and eyes snapped to attention.
Jimmy has the ball?
I scanned the backfield looking for little 33.
JIMMY HAS THE BALL!
I had been sitting on the bleachers watching the second half of my son’s football game and feeling a little down on their behalf; the other team was up by 4 touchdowns already, and we had yet to score.
Now I was on my feet watching this surprise play develop in front of me. For a moment the team formed a holy huddle around Jimmy, a semi-circle of grass-stained boys protecting his perimeter, guarding their man.
The boys became a wall of white jerseys between Jimmy and the other team – the other team that was suddenly FOR him, not against him.
“All the way, Jimmy!”
And Jimmy’s line ran with him.
And the other team ran with him.
And by the end of those 65 yards, both teams ran after him.
Together they ran their man Jimmy all the way to the end zone as he scored those breathless 6 points for his team.
The striped official lifted his arms to the crisp blue sky.
Both teams cheered, both crowds celebrated.
At the conclusion of this post, make sure to watch
the best play of any game that weekend!
Video courtesy of my husband Nate, who was working the chains
and (unlike the unsuspecting fans) knew of the coaches’ plan
about to be snapped into well-executed motion!
In epic movie fashion, Coach Dan lifted Jimmy in congratulations.
Teammates clapped him on the shoulder-pads and helmet.
Hoots and hollers and a standing ovation continued as Jimmy walked back towards the fans.
Even the heavens were beaming with delight.
The sweetest joy was seeing Jimmy’s broad grin when his proud daddy kneeled to embrace his boy and capture the exuberant expression with a picture.
“Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God…
let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
– Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew
As these heart-bursting moments were etched into our emotions and memories, parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and coaches and friends recognized something universal in the stands and on that field. Though very few of us have raised a child with Down syndrome, we connect with the fierce love that bonds us to the experience of another – we know what it is to love a child, to desire the best for that child, to hurt with their hurts, struggle when they struggle, and rejoice in their shining moments.
We know the importance of being a part of something bigger than ourselves, the need for belonging, the grace of being accepted, and the gift of being appreciated. So when we see Jimmy, we see our children, we see ourselves, we see the human experience and humanity itself reflected.
When Jimmy jumps up and down along the sidelines raising his arms in encouragement, he invites us all to cheer, to engage life more fully, play after play, week after week. And today when he ran, he inspired us all to run. When Jimmy scored, we all felt the victory. Because of Jimmy, both teams won today – the other team had more points, but Jimmy taught ALL of us that winning goes way beyond the scoreboard. Jimmy wins, love wins, everybody wins.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
– the Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians
- Godly Women
- Snow Day Letters