I grew up loved. I grew up middle class. I grew up never having to wonder if I would get a birthday present or a Christmas present. But like most American children, I had to be reminded again and again that not everything in life is fair.
Kids will be kids. And we all need someone older and more experienced to help us see our lives and struggles in perspective with reality. But, that fact that I needed to be reminded again and again that I had it good was downright shameful. And I am not being overly critical of myself just to make a point. I really had no excuse.
You see, from the time that I was born, I had a living example of just how unfair life can be. A member of my family is mentally challenged. While he looks like a normal aging man, his mind is that of a very young child.
We don’t really know how it happened. It might have been a high fever. It might have been an unfortunate slip on the sidewalk and bump on the forehead. It’s a mystery that will never be solved. But what is for certain is that my uncle did not develop like a normal child.
From very early in life, not everything was fair for my uncle.
While I value my uncle greatly as he is, I do wish that he had been able to enjoy a “normal” life. I do wish that he could’ve gotten married and been a dad. I do wish that he could’ve been a fireman or an electrician or a mechanic and really gotten to use the tools that he loves to collect.
But, I do wonder how different the lives of my family members would’ve have been had he been normal. I don’t know about my brothers, but I know that I would’ve turned out even more selfish, more prideful, more self-centered than I already am. I know that I would be less sensitive to people with disabilities and towards those who have had injustices done to them. And I am sure that if my uncle had not been in my life as he is, I would not be heartbroken by the millions of mentally and physically challenged children and adults that are abused, abandoned and mistreated everyday because life was not fair to them.
I would have never come into contact with some of these courageous and beautiful people had not my uncle been placed in our lives as he is.
Looking at my uncle, and people like him, you might feel sad, you might feel angry. But, there is also much to learn from from them. And, if I may say so, there is much to envy. My uncle has known much hardship and suffering and prejudice, but there are seven simple things that characterize his life. May God help me to have these seven things characterize my own life more and more:
- Always easy to laugh and smile.
- Friendly with everyone.
- Always thankful for whatever meal is served.
- Never concerned about what anyone thinks.
- Loves all animals.
- Lives each day as it comes.
- Speaks directly and forthrightly, and sees no reason to lie.
Thank you, Uncle Lewis! You’ve made my life richer, and I can’t imagine our family without you.
God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.1 Corinthians 1:27