piper afo

human (adj) having human form or attributes as opposed to those of animals or divine beings

Today, Piper and I walked at the train park to get her exercise before it was too hot. As I helped Piper meander up the play structure, a little girl looked at her, ran to her mom, and asked loudly, “Is it human?” This was a question I had never heard before. It took me off guard. As a parent of a child challenged with special needs, you learn to arm yourself with shields. Shields to deflect the stares or looks of pity. Shields to only hear the positive and drown out the words of people being thankful they have a “normal” child. Shields to stop the pain that pricks your heart each time you realize that life is harder and different for your child.

So after I put up my shields and quickly diverted Piper away from the area, I started to chuckle. This little girl had seen Piper’s enormous AFO’s (braces) that help her to walk steady, and focused on the metal and plastic. She could not see the inquisitive human girl inside. This is probably because there are currently many kid movies about robots living life like humans. She wondered if I walked my robot to the park!

I am blessed that my Piper is in human form. Some of that form is flawed and works slowly. But she has never known life to be different. Her struggle has always existed, and she has had to rely on her “robotic” aides to function. If we are honest with ourselves, we could realize that we are all in a flawed human form. We just put up our shields to hide the flaws, divert attention, and hear only what makes us feel good.

He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part!  So he has made many parts, but still there is only one body.  1Corinthians 18-20

God picked each part of Piper when he was forming her. He picked each part of you when he was forming you. There is a reason we are all here. We each have a part or role that God plans us to play in the lives of others.

Currently, my back and arm parts give me the strength to assist Piper with her mobility. My brain part gives me the ability to help my struggling learners learn. My heart part helps me to understand the struggle some parents face and equip them with knowledge to help their struggling child. If I do not take down my shields, these God given gifts will be unused.

Perhaps, the little girl was able to glimpse the honest, flawed, intricate design Piper has from her divine being/creator. In the absence of a shield, she may have wondered if Piper could be a human.

Lord, please help me to embrace my flaws and not hide behind shields. I know there will be hurt and anger at times. Allow me to use those to become the person you created me to be. Amen.


3 Comments on “Shields

  1. Jen, I marvel at your open heart, that understands human nature. Your ability to see how we can learn from one another, despite our flawed, sinful nature. For a mom of a special needs child to have such a capacity for grace when her beautiful daughter is described in such a way, is truly a demonstration of how Jesus would respond. I am thankful that I have a friend that can teach me to always dispense grace, even in a difficult moment. You are an inspiration; I miss you, friend.


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