I know a lot of kids.
I know kids with HIV and anxiety. Kids with hearing loss and low muscle tone and kids whose parents have restraining orders. Kids with ADD and kids who walk into classrooms everyday knowing the odds of dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia are stacked mockingly and impossibly against them. Kids who ask other kids to pray for them because Daddy ran away and please ask God to send him back.
There’s a name and a shiny-happy face attached to every kid I just described and they swing from monkey bars and jostle in corridors of even extraordinary, privileged, happy and wholesome private schools like the one my boys attend.
And it was at the Awards Evening of our happy and wholesome extraordinary school that Cameron was presented with the Overcomer’s Award because, for sure, for freakin’ sure, he overcomes every day.
Like, last week he told me after cricket practice (during which he did a lot of humming and prancing about pretending to know where the ball was) that at first he’d forgotten about cricket practice and he’d waited for me outside his class and he’d hugged three different moms (*insert mortified rolling of his partially sighted eyes*) because he’d thought they were me (*sigh*) (*like, seriously Mom?*).
And we both laughed about it and I said I was absolutely certain that all three of those moms of similar height, build and hairstyle to me would’ve been thrilled to score an unexpected hug in their day.
A couple years ago, hugging three incorrect moms would have disastrously freaked him out. I remember a day when he was in Grade 00. He hugged the wrong mom. Then walked into a pole. Then punched me repeatedly in the stomach with furious embarrassed fists.
Now, he just feels a bit ridiculous, and asks if we can make toasted sandwiches for lunch.
So when his name got called and applause erupted and he made his careful measured way up the stage steps, I may or may not have sobbed a little because I’m so deeply chuffed for him and because it’s a wonderful, honouring thing for communities to pause, and celebrate courage.
And yet all that evening, little bodies traipsed on and off that stage to be cheered and as they grinned and hugged and waved I kept thinking, Overcomer. Overcomer. Overcomer. Yip, another Overcomer.
Even our youngest, released to find our laps once his class had received their awards, didn’t hurtle up with ‘Look at my book!’ but rather, euphorically, ‘Did you see Cam?’ And afterwards he told anyone who would listen, ‘My brother won! My brother won!’
Which made me think, Overcomer. Because he’s done some overcoming of his own. It isn’t always straightforward to live in the shadow of what some folks see as his big brother’s adorable disability.
I’ve watched all these kids – all these Overcomers – and whether or not they have the emotional maturity to realise it, they’re doing two things:
1 They give more than they get.
These kids somehow get that celebrating how someone else’s light shines doesn’t dim their own.
These kids are the living truth that celebrating someone usually says more about the celebrator than the celebrated, because celebration speaks of generosity, humility and untarnished love. And celebration is, tried and tested, the best antidote for jealousy and self-pity.
These kids celebrate others to pre-empt the disappointment they will inevitably feel if they rely on circumstances to go their way. By giving more than they get, they’re making their own happy.
2 They don’t give in; they get comfortable.
I read this prayer somewhere –
‘The longer I walk with You, Lord, I find I have no enemies: only Your gift of chisels etching me deep.’
That’s an Overcomer’s prayer.
I need that prayer because, shockingly, I’m still shocked and offended by failure and exhaustion and setbacks in all shapes and sizes.
Yet Overcomers learn to befriend their menacing mentors. They stop fearing agents of change and growth. They get comfortable with lactic acid burn and hearing aids, neurologists and extra lessons, immune boosters and play therapy.
Mostly, Overcomers get comfortable in the arms of the Saviour who suffered – and overcame.
So here’s to all the Overcomers.
You totally rock.
. . .
Thanks for hanging out here today. Love and strength to you for a new week.
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For all the moms with special needs kids. And special kids with needs. And needy kids who don’t feel special. And stuff.
Here’s what’s on the menu, if you’re reading this in an email: