A Good and Perfect Gift, the memoir by fellow Her.meneutics writer Amy Julia Becker, is, on the surface, about a young, first-time mother learning to accept and embrace her daughter Penny's Down syndrome diagnosis. Amy Julia's beautiful and moving writing was just named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2011 and received a starred review from them as well.
But Amy Julia's struggles with disappointment, anger at God, and fully embracing the "good and perfect gift" of her daughter reflect struggles most believers undergo. For this reason, the book speaks to a far wider audience than parents of children with special needs. In fact, it speaks to all who strive to replace perfectionism with, as Amy Julia writes, "our telos": the fulfillment of our purpose, "our true perfection."
To that end, I asked Amy Julia about the temptation to idolize the intellect, responding to people who are insensitive about disability, and the beauty of being a limited, finite creature under God's care.
So much of your story about raising a child with learning disabilities is, ironically, about your own learning: learning to trust God, learning to forgive offenses, learning to accept life's imbalances, and, quite simply, learning to parent. Most of these are lessons we all need. Which lesson has refined your character the most?
During the first year of Penny's life, I came face to face with the fact that I idolized intelligence. Not only did I take pride in my own intellectual ability, I also valued other people based on their intellectual abilities and educational backgrounds. Having a daughter with Down syndrome not only helped me to tear down this idol, but also to open my eyes to the beauty and significance of people with intellectual disabilities. ...1
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