Eight! Eight? Eight!!
To my Boy Wonder, Full of Wonder: Happy 8th Birthday!
Maybe one day, you’ll stumble upon this blog and find all the things I wrote about you and to you.
Maybe one day, I’ll print some of the posts out for you to read.
But more than giving you things to read, I hope you experience and feel the love that your mom and I have for you every single day of your existence and that our love for you will carry on long after we’re gone.
What can I say to a person whose body cannot contain the joy your spirit brings?
You’re so full of life and joy that the only way your body knows how to react to is through dancing, shifting, and arm flapping. I so desperately want to know what it’s like to experience joy –life– the way you do; the joy that literally rocks your body.
I can’t believe you’re turning eight.
Where does the time go? Because if you’re turning 8, that means I’m gonna turn 38 in a few weeks. Selfishly, I don’t want you to grow. And… selfishly, I don’t want to grow up either.
As cliché as it is — it seems like just yesterday we were waiting for hours to get your medication before we could get you home. We figured you must be starving so we went to a Fosters Freeze that was right next door to the pharmacy. We got you some ranch with a side of chicken tenders — because you used the chicken tenders as a spoon for the ranch. It was quite disgusting, but we were so fascinated with you we let it slide.
If I’m honest, I worry for you a lot. I know you don’t ask for it — or need it. But as I’ve gotten older, I realized that I’m a worrier. I worry. For no good reasons. In fact when there’s nothing to worry about, I start worrying about that.
I worry about how you will be treated by others as you continue to grow. Thankfully, autism doesn’t have as much stigma as it did in years past.
But people often fear what they don’t understand. And fear makes people do ugly things.
I worry about the world that you might inherit.
We’re called to meet people in the margins. It’s what Jesus did and calls us to do.
As James wrote: True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.
But we’ve been intent on creating orphans all under the guise of: they’re not Americans.
We seem hell-bent on not only keeping people in the margins, but pushing more people into becoming marginalized. Rather than going to the margins and caring for the orphans and widows — the poor, powerless, oppressed — we are working on creating a larger chasm between the haves and the have-nots.
It’s because we’re being seduced and intoxicated by the power of Caesar and therefore, being immersed in and emulating the sacrificial love of Jesus seems so backwards and pointless and useless even though it’s what Jesus commanded. I guess we’re in good company, though. Even the Twelve didn’t understand why Jesus wouldn’t pick up the sword.
Humanity has always longed for a Messiah that comes as a mighty warrior, master of the strongest weapons of the time.
Yet, the Messiah has come. But he came with a towel and a basin and taught us that serving one another in sacrificial love is the path we are called to walk on.
How easy it is to stray from that notion.
So I find myself getting angry.
But truthfully, I’m more angry at myself because I don’t know what to do and I feel like I’m not doing enough. As ironic as it sounds, sometimes church work can get in the way of God’s work. Sometimes, God’s work and church work don’t go hand in hand. In fact sometimes church work interferes/blocks/counters God’s work.
At the time of writing this, it’s been a tough week.
2 black people were killed for simply being black.
11 Jewish people were killed for simply being Jews.
Bombs were sent to prominent Democrats.
And to put salt on the wounds, the culprits were all brought into custody alive.
In a time where we’ve seen unarmed black men killed by the police, the white armed culprits are kept alive.
This is something else I worry about. Every time a person of color is killed for no apparent reason — whether it’s by people in power who are supposed to protect us or by people misguided by hate– I’m small kine relieved that your whiteness shows more than your brownness. Even more relieved after moving to Pearland.
You’re a walking melting pot — half white, half Mexican, full Korean in spirit (you love kimchi more than any Korean I’ve ever known) to accompany the Korean last name. But I sometimes joke to myself that I’m going to keep you out of the sun so that you seem less brown than you are. And this fear and uncertainty about our skin color is something white people will never fully grasp and understand, and something they’ll try to whitesplain away by telling us we’re making mountains out of anthills. It’s usually with good intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
But here’s what I do know, kid: You will always find what you are looking for.
If you want to find hate and fear, you will find them. You don’t have to try too hard to find hate and fear.
However, I’m absolutely positive that there’s more good than evil in this world.
There might be times where we have to strain and squint a bit to find the good in the world and in people. But it’s there. It’s always there. Because everything in this world and in this universe is tinged, singed, and fused with God’s presence. And God is good. God is love.
And if for some reason you can’t find any good, then you be the good.
What we — I — need to do is strive to look at the world through the lens of love; to see the world through the eyes of God.
And we need to continue to lean into love and utilize love as our weapon to fight back evil.
Because if you fight darkness with darkness, only darkness will remain. The only way to dispel darkness is with light.
Even the smallest, faintest flicker of light is enough to push back darkness just enough.
Love is the only antidote for the poison of fear and hatred.
Love is the light that will push darkness into non-existence and that’s when the kingdom of God will be fully realized.
What I see in you clearly is the light of God shining in you and through you.
So much so, like I said earlier, your body has no idea how to react the spirit that resides inside it. The joy and love is so alive and tangible in you. And it’s so contagious. You can’t help but bring about smiles on people’s faces — even complete strangers. My hope and prayer is that you will always bring joy and love and life to the people you meet and encounter.
That nothing will dim the light that shines from you.
That people will see Christ in your child-like faith, joy, and love.
You are a resilient human being. I will never forget that unbreakable and heart-stealing smile you greeted us with when we first met you — even after being in a group home for a month; even after what you’ve experienced the first years of your life — you never stopped smiling. What a gift that truly is, which is apropos since your name means gift from God.
Son, you may not be of our flesh and blood.
But you are of our spirit, soul, and heart.
I’m constantly amazed at how much you and your mother are alike (…actually, it drives me crazy at times).
Maybe right now, you think we’re the best parents and human beings that exist in the world; that you see us as superheroes of some sort.
But as you grow older, you will begin to see the cracks in that line of thinking; you’ll begin to see and experience our flaws; the hurts and scars that we carry that sometime manifest in not so loving ways.
You will see our humanity — the good, the bad, and even the ugly.
We are not perfect. We don’t have our crap together. We don’t have everything figured out. In fact, sometimes we’re making up as we go. Adulting is hard. Parenting is harder. We will make mistakes. We will fall short. You’ll hear your mom ask me fairly often: what were you thinking?
And you’ll probably hear that question from us quite often too…
As flawed as we may be, our love for you will always be pure, genuine, deep, and unconditional. Nothing can and will change that.
We love you from the bottom of our hearts; from the depths of our souls; we love you from The-Planet-Formerly-Known-As-Pluto and back. Forever and always.
Paraphrasing our Buddhists friends:
O nobly born, O you of glorious origin: remember who you are.
and paraphrasing St. Paul:
May you continue to shine like stars among the people!
Goodness gracious, my child! Happy birthday!
Love you. Always and forever.