Milley is in my fourth grade Sunday School class. She has Spina Bifida and makes her way through the world in a wheelchair but she does not let it hinder her view. When Milley looks at her world, she sees blessings.
She was relinquished at birth for adoption and God carefully placed her in a family who he knew would love extravagantly. Still, you would think she might feel just the tinniest bit depressed about the lot she has been given, or complain about never being able to walk. On the contrary, she wheels through life unhampered by the notion of her limitations and instead celebrates her abilities. She loves without reservation and spreads joy everywhere she rolls.
Last Sunday as I was walking the kids to class, Milley’s best buddy Lola was pushing her along. Lola was born with dwarfisim and the two are kindred spirits. (You should see Lola dance!) Half way to class, Lola popped Milley’s wheelchair into a wheelie. The overprotective mother in me cringed but they were both having so much fun I restrained myself from correcting them and instead just walked along beside them.
I know I should not have favorites in my class and honestly, I love them every one, but Milley has a special place in my heart because she is the kind of person I want to be and lives her life the way I want to live mine. The bottom line is although she is bound to a wheelchair, Milley is freer than most who can run.
The kids had worship before the lesson. The woman who led them is young, energetic, beautiful and dark. Her ebony hair is short, spiky and highlighted blue. She played her guitar and began to sing praises. The kids joined in, clapping their hands. I closed my eyes and sang too. It was a song about Heaven. Suddenly, as if God tapped my spirit on the shoulder, my eyes flew open and I looked down at Milley. There she was, a smile on her face with both arms lifted as high as she could in praise to God.
And in that moment, I saw her as she will be on the day God calls all his children home and makes everything new. I closed my eyes and imagined her standing straight and strong, leading the rest of us as she danced before the Lord, whole at last.
So, what does Milley have to teach me today? Will I hold so tightly to the pain of those who have rejected, abandoned or injured me in the past that I find it impossible to love freely in the present? Will I become so focused on my weaknesses and limitations that I fail to use my strengths? Will I worry so much about how others perceive me that I become bound by insecurity?
Will I wait for perfection or will I dance through the life I have been given?
I know Milley isn’t waiting and I don’t want to either. Today, I’m going to dance.
(The names of the children in this post have been changed to protect their privacy.)