Tonight was my parents 45th wedding anniversary and for the first time in some years Dad took my Mom on a date to one of their favorite restaurants. It gave me the opportunity to spend time with my sister. Time I have come to value. Time I don’t take for granted.
My little sister is not so little anymore. She’s 18. At first glance, if you’ve never met her before you wouldn’t think she’s 18. She is often mistaken by others who don’t know her as being much younger (which drives me nuts, but that’s for another day). You see, my sister was born blind and with some mental development disorders. Maria will never be able to live a complete independent life. However, by her own rights and personality she has her own form of independence at times.
Maria was born in the Philippine, a third world country. My parents adopted her when she was nine after meeting her at an orphanage they had been serving with during their time there as missionaries. I remember the process they went through, it was long and at times stressful, but yet exciting for all of us. I remember meeting her for the first time and seeing her face light up with a smile that can make anyone melt.
Maria was born in a third world country and now lives in the U.S, but yet as she gets older I can’t say I’ve ever heard her complain about a first world problem. Maria’s disability may hinder her from being completely independent, having the ability to learn and get a college educated, but her disability has not hindered her from seeing life the way it is meant to be seen. Maria’s blindness gives her a sight that many of us don’t have. Maria doesn’t have first world problems.
Maria doesn’t complain about what to buy or what she might or might not get for Christmas. She doesn’t complain about crowded malls or traffic on the roads. She doesn’t complain about the lack of wifi or that she doesn’t own an iPad. She doesn’t wish for a bigger bed, she’s happy she has a comfortable bed. She’s doesn’t complain when her sneakers are not Nike, rather she’s excited when she gets new sneakers and says; “hey Brian, look at dese!” She doesn’t complain when she can’t get that expensive bottle of shampoo or the name brand body soaps. She’s not picky about what she eats and is thankful for every meal. Maria doesn’t have first world problems and one might say it’s because she doesn’t know any better and shrug it off using her disability as an excuse. I would disagree. Sure Maria has limits, but at the same time she’s smart. I like to think and hold in my heart that she has more common sense then intelligence. I like to think that God has given her a sight many of us don’t have, a sight many of us desperately need.
Maria has taught and is still teaching me how she sees the world. She’s teaching me what she values most; Jesus and family. Early on when Maria first came into our family there were times I felt sorry for you because of her disability, but over the years I have come to understand that her disability while challenging, is also a gift. Because through Maria’s eyes I’ve come to see what’s really important in life; Jesus and family, everything else is just stuff.
Remember, life is one long hiking trip for which I have chosen to hike by faith. Because even when I don’t see…I still believe.