My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed,[a] we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
James 3:1-5 NKJV
I have read these words many, many times over the years. But, that day the words jumped out at me. I was inspired in a new way.
Many times, it seems that having a child who is classified as non-verbal/minimally verbal is a curse. I don't mean to say that Jaycee is a curse. But, her inability to produce spoken words is life limiting. Yes, she can use sign language and a communication device. But, her lack of verbal speech impacts her life in so many ways.
Here's just a few examples:
-She can't speak on a phone. She can grunt on it. We do use Face Time but this isn't always available all the time.
-She cannot tell me when she is sick, what hurts on her body, or when her breathing feels different. Instead, I have to watch for behavioral changes or numbers on a monitor to tell me.
-She cannot order her own food at most restaurants.
-She cannot ask questions to clarify or to engage with friends.
-Jaycee cannot read out loud using her voice. She can read aloud by "saying" the words on her communication device, but that takes 3-4x longer than just speaking and twice the memorization.
-She cannot join any group or club that requires verbal speech such as chorus.
These are just some examples. When I think about her future, her lack of verbal speech comes into play. What job can she have that requires little speech? Given her health problems would it be safe for her to live independently, if she cannot call for help?
Really, we deal with her lack of speech well. I am grateful she has other methods of communication she has success with and for the words that she can say, especially "mama."
When this verse suggested that a person who is able to control their tongue and not stumble in their words is perfect, I saw Jaycee's inability to speak in a new light. She is perfect in this aspect. She has not lied. She has not called anyone a name. She has not cursed. She has not given a sarcastic remark. She has not told anyone she hated them. She has not engaged in gossip. She has not made promises she couldn't keep. She has not told a secret she was suppose to keep. She has not screamed out some horrible words in anger. She has not made schemes. In short, no evil has come from her mouth.
I cannot say that.
I am still challenged by James 3 every time I read it. I have not been able to control my tongue in the ways that would reflect God's perfect spirit. Jaycee is much farther along in this area than me even if it is not by her choice.
When the challenges of having a child with little to no speech come up, I am encouraged by this scripture. Jaycee is perfect in speech in God's eyes.
This post is for Down syndrome Awareness Month where bloggers write for all 31 days of October for Trisomy 21. I am part of this 31 for 21 challenge. During the month of October, the NDSS asks that we celebrate people with Down syndrome and make others aware of abilities and accomplishments. Individuals with Down syndrome have abilities that need to be celebrated!