I posted this as a "meditation" (how stuffy, but I don't know what else to call it) to the OrthWomen's list yesterday. It went over well there, so I thought I'd copy it here.
Just thinking over the weekend about ourChris, and the incredible turns his life has taken: We would never have dreamed, back about 10 or 15 years ago, that his life could ever have turned out so successfully. Back in 1992, there wasn't a lot of sympathy for kids with Asperger's Syndrome, mostly because it hadn't yet been officiallyclassified as a condition, so Chris, who was then in middle school, put up with a lot of guff out of various teachers, and the indignity of being put into special-ed classes along with kids with a fraction of his intelligence - but ADD or ADHD was the only possible "code" available at the time, so we had to agree to special ed or have his teachers pick on him relentlessly. Back then, we just hoped he'd get out of high school without some kind of lasting stigma.
Back then, I actually, seriously, asked God why He had created Chris, if his only lot in life was to suffer: Hard to explain to a 10- or 15-year-old that being a "Christ-bearer," which is what "Christopher" means, is a great honor, if it means following Christ even to the carrying of an exceptionally heavy cross. True, it was right around this time that his voice developed into one of the finest basses I have ever heard, what the Russians call an"octavist," meaning he can sing somewhere in the 9th sub-basement of the musical scale. And I realized that at least one purpose of his existence was to glorify God with that voice, so that was its own kind of answer. Ijust wished that the rest of his life could be as successful, so he would at least get some sense that his life is worth living - it sure didn't seem like it, at the time.
But very recently, with the positive changes that have occurred in his life - and with the miscarriage our daughter suffered a little over a year ago - praying for that small life that was snuffed out so soon, and for its uncle, who has known pretty much nothing but sorrow and grief - recently it occurred to me: God creates a person for Himself. It isn't that He doesn't expect us to lead useful and productive lives, and He certainly gives us the means to do so - in Chris's case, parents who loved him and believed in him when no one else did - but little Sophia, who never had a chance to live this life - hey, her life is just as valuable to Him. Just because we never had a chance to know her, doesn't mean He doesn't know her and cherish her most intimately, rejoicing in her presence in His life. Just means we have to wait a bit longer to meet her.
What a mind-boggler. God creates each life for Himself, for the sheer joyof getting to know each one of us, for the sheer delight of listening to an octavist with the grimy hands of a railroad worker, or the lightning intellect and golden tongue of a great orator of the Church, or the profound reverence and love for Him of a heart that can't carry a tune in a bucket. He doesn't care about our deficiencies - those are the deficiencies of the world. We are what we are, and when we remember that He holds an icon of us in His hands - the image of what He intended when He created us - when we just make the most of how He created us, then we become what He intended,and fulfill His purpose for our lives. Does it get any better than that?
A couple of the responses on the list frankly horrified me - the things these people live with every day, that made me feel phenomenally presumptuous, posting all of this. But then I thought: Things like cerebral palsy and abuse, Parkinson's, children's cancers, all seem so outrageously cruel, and we wonder why God allows them - but they're part and parcel of being in a fallen world, just like that tsunami a couple of years ago. Our priest gave a sermon about that in which he opined that God has not finished creating the world yet, and that's why tsunamis and earthquakes happen.
Hmmm. Stands to reason, then, that He isn't finished perfecting*us,* either, and as I was just reading, when St. Paul asked for his affliction to be taken away from him - three times, yet - God's answer was,"My strength is made perfect in weakness." Oh-kay. But it's beginning to dawn on me (emphasis on "beginning") that the suffering, in whatever way, shape, or form, is part of conforming us to His image, and the scars are all part of our "icon" - maybe the physical or emotional scars wipe out or cover over the spiritual scars of our transgressions(as it says in the funeral service of the Orthodox Church). It's not my place, or anyone's, really, to try to figure it out. But it sure helps me to realize that there's a purpose for my existence beyond this time and space, and that He made me because He wanted me.