When the dishes are done or the sneaker is tied or I’ve spelled “antidisestablishmentarianism” yet again (that can’t really be one of their spelling words, right? Someone is pulling my leg?) I ask her what she wants to tell me. And her firecracker light is even brighter, her all-consuming need to tell me that she made up a new song or renamed her pony or can’t find her Elsa glove is even more important to her than it was two and a half minutes ago, because she had to wait.
Watching their son walk toward the school building on his first day, Auggie’s parents (played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) hold on to each other, emotions writ large on their faces. Then his mother prays: “Dear God, please make them be nice to him.”
I don’t know what it’s like to raise a child with visible disabilities, but I resonate with Auggie’s mother’s prayer. In my world, disabilities are hidden. In my world, children look like they might be able to blend in—but they never can. And so I pray for everyone who interacts with my family: “Dear God, please make them be nice.”
When we finished praying, my eight-year-old blurted out, “Can I eat my card?” I was trying to decide if not eating the prayer card was going to be my hill to die on, when he paused, green card halfway to his open mouth.
“Actually, I don’t want to eat this,” he said. “This is a prayer. This is important. I want to send this to Washington, D.C.”
The film brings viewers right into the middle of Justin and Patrick’s friendship, and the depth of their relationship is apparent. As is their humor: when the camera focuses on Patrick, exhausted and slumped over for a much-needed rest, Patrick then looks at Justin and says, “Okay, seriously dude—it’s time to walk.”
I see you on stage at the school play, or lighting the candles as an acolyte, or twirling through your dance recital and I know what it cost you to get up there and do that, and my heart is bursting for you. In this broken world, I want you to know that I don’t just see your brokenness—I see your beauty. Because we are all broken, we are just broken differently.
Why are we so good at “moving on,” but not quite so good at sitting and staying where it hurts? When I look at this world, the morning hasn’t come. I can’t quite wrest my heart out of the pain to move forward into joy…and that’s not just an okay response, it’s a biblical one. This isn’t the world God envisioned for us.
I wonder sometimes, when school (and chess) officials deem a growing girl’s outfit inappropriate, if they’ve forgotten to remember the part about “growing.” When my sons outgrow their clothes, people comment good-naturedly on their high-water pants or short shorts. When my daughters outgrow their clothes, they are body-shamed.
My nine-year-old son is terrified of roller coasters. Or, more accurately, my son is terrified of many things, “roller coasters” being only one entry in a long list of terror-producing entities. Roller coasters are notable here, not because they cause anxiety, but because, despite being petrified of them, my son also loves them.
We pray and chant and confess and lament, all the way to Good Friday…all the while still committing the same sins that made Good Friday necessary in the first place. Like the reveler who on New Year’s Day reaches half-awake for the coffee she has ostensibly given up, downing it before she remembers her resolution, we seem doomed to failure before we even try.