When I was thinking about updating my blog today I was going to write all about the discouraging week I had. I was going to put things in it about how parenting was just hard and no one really tells you to the fullest extent how hard it is. And as we all know, if you're a parent, it is hard but it is the most wonderful gift we could be given. I have been a bit dicouraged this week and feeling that I'm not doing the best job and my kids have been unruly to say the least. I've been very prayerful and asking God to speak to my heart and fill me with encouragement this week. And as HE said, ask and you will receive....I did. I came home from church after lunch where we again had some behavior issues and opened an email with the following story:
At a fund raising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:"when not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, canot learn things as other children do, he cannot understand things as other children do; where is the natural order of things in my son?" The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child..." then he told the following story.
Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew where playing baseball. Shay asked "do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by other in spite of his handicaps.
Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said "we're losing by six runs and the game is in the 8th inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the 9th inning." Shay struggled over to the team's bench and with a broad smile put on a team shirt. His father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the 9th inning, Shay put on a glove and played in right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game, grinning ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the 9th inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to bat next.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible bc Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team as putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher.
The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first basemen. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all teammates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, Shay, run to first! Never in his life had Shay run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide eyed and startled. Everyone yelled "run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay awkardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded second base, the right fielder had the ball...the smallest guy on their team now had his chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball for the tag, but understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.
All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, all the way Shay." Shay reached third base bc the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the right direction and shouted "run to third!" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming"Shay, run home, run home!" Shay ran home, stepped on the plate and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity to this world."
Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
Needless to say, I certainly didn't feel the need to share my so-called "hard" week anymore. I am immensely blessed with 3 beautiful, healthy children and know if I seek God's help with my parenting struggles I cannot fail. I pray that I can teach my children to be the type of person to make someone feel like a hero for a day!