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Father Describes ‘Heavy Joy’ of Daughter with Disabilities

In his book Hinge Moments, college president D. Michael Lindsay shares about the birth of his oldest daughter, Elizabeth. They quickly knew something wasn’t quite right with her developmentally. When she was four months old, their pediatrician said, “Well, I don’t know what to say, but something is definitely wrong with your little girl.” Lindsay says, “I found it difficult to breathe. Grief overtook us and made it hard to get out even basic words. We prayed hard that our worst fears wouldn’t live themselves out, but we dreaded they would.”

After three years of tests and specialists, Elizabeth was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder. She is only one of 500 people or so known cases in the world. There is no cure. It involves profound cognitive disability, legal blindness, and many challenges with internal organs.

Lindsay says that parenting Elisabeth has been what he calls a “heavy joy”—filled with profound challenges but also lots of happy moments. It has also taught him and his wife key lessons about being transformed by Christ. Lindsay writes:

Elizabeth is not drawn to fame or self-advancement. She reflects a more authentic way of Christian living, one that is less interested in appearances or achievement. She takes pleasure in simple things—the taste of vanilla ice cream, the thrill of reaching heights in the backyard swing, the delight of listening to songs with a good beat and familiar melody. And Elizabeth is genuinely happy when she pleases her father, clapping for herself when she hears my affirmations.

Having Elizabeth in our family has helped us see the importance of vulnerability and simple obedience to Christ. More importantly, she has demonstrated that “walking in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10) doesn’t rely on superior [knowledge or performance]. Instead, it is a way of being that opens us up to fully pleasing the Lord in our respective callings.

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