So I was digging through a rack of sweaters when I saw a mom coming down the aisle pushing a large baby stroller. The mom was a very cute, very hip young woman dressed in a short swingy skirt with tights and combat boots. The little one in the stroller appeared to be wearing some sort of monster mask—my assumption based on the fact that others in the store were wearing Halloween costumes. When they got closer I realized that there was no mask—the child had a grossly malformed face. I looked away, horrified that I could have said something amazingly stupid about the mask that wasn’t a mask.
My friend Jeannie was a couple of aisles away—when she saw the mom pushing the stroller, her initial impression was that it was not a human being in the stroller—an easy misassumption to make.
We both ran into the mom pushing the stroller several other times. The child may have been about 4 years old, just judging from her size—it was impossible to tell because her body was covered with a blanket. She was dressed in girly pink clothes with a bow in her hair. She had an extreme craniofacial abnormality—her skull was misshaped and asymmetrical, her nose was on one side of her face, and she had a huge lump in the center of her upper face. Bits of dark hair were growing around her forehead and down her face.
And the hip young woman we presumed to be her mom was continually talking to her, showing her pieces of clothing, saying, “What do you think? Do you like this?”
My eyes filled with tears. I was struck by the love, the nobility, the amazing courage of the mother. And I was struck by the humanity of the child with what appeared to be an unhuman face. I was horrified by my initial reaction—that I thought it was a grotesque mask—and humbled by the experience. For days it has stayed with me, and the thing that rises to the surface of my thoughts and feelings is that God’s love shines through all of it. God loves the child as much as any other child He has created. And God must have a special place in His heart for the courageous mom.
Today I had my yearly check-up with my orthodontist. He is on a team of medical specialists who works with children affected by craniofacial abnormalities. I told him the story and he said, “That mom is badass!”
I agree—the mom is badass and the little girl is a child of God. Bless both of them for their courage, for not hiding in shame, for carrying the nobility of their humanity for all to see.
There are no coincidences—my Bible study for yesterday was about this verse:
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7