God works through people to reveal Himself to others. In working with the disability community, I have seen Jesus through many caregivers. Their sacrificial love and service to people with a disability points to our Savior’s sacrificial love for His people He loves dearly.
While serving at my first Joni and Friends Family Retreat, I was paired with a six-year-old boy with autism. The very first night of camp, he had a large meltdown in the cafeteria. His mother was with us and watched him as he became overstimulated by everything around him. She quickly hugged him. This mother sat with him in her arms refusing to let go while he thrashed against her, scratching, spitting, and screaming at her. She patiently sat with him, ignoring his attacks, and repeated over and over, “I love you. It’s okay. I know this isn’t the real you. I love you. I love you…” She remained that way with him for several minutes until he calmed down.
Later that night, I helped his mother get him ready for bed with his nightly routine. The boy looked at his mother and saw scratches on her neck. He asked her what happened and why she was bleeding. She replied, “Oh baby, you did this to me, but I know you didn’t mean to. You didn’t know what you were doing.” Her son began crying because of the pain he caused his mother and apologized. The mother hugged him tightly and said, “You didn’t do this on purpose, it was the hurt inside of you. I love you and forgive you.”
While I watched this mother, pursing her child in love and forgiveness, I was reminded of our heavenly Father’s love for us. This mother reminded me of Jesus calling out to God on the cross, asking Him to forgive the people killing Him because they did not know what they were doing (Luke 23:34). This mother would not let go of her son, even though he was trying his best to get away from her, hurting her by doing so. We constantly kick and scream against our Father who is working for our best interest, trying to protect us from evil. Like this beautiful caregiver, God does not leave us alone in our struggles but instead He pursues us. He sent His Son to die for us to forgive us and welcome us into His kingdom.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Caregivers, you show God to others through your actions and services of love. In your constant pursuance and love for your child, you are imitating God’s love for His children. He is our greatest caregiver. Thank you for allowing God to work through you in your present circumstances. Thank you for showing constant love even when it does not feel like it is reciprocated. Thank you for giving your life to serve those in front of you, like our God did for us sending His only Son to die for His children. Caregivers, you portray Christ to a watching world.
Emmalyne Kwasny is a senior at Mississippi State University and serves as editor-in-chief of the university’s student-led newspaper, The Reflector. Emmalyne volunteers with Joni and Friends Mississippi and is currently interning with Joni and Friends Cause 4 Life.