If you could take away Penny's extra copy of chromosome 21, would you?
When Penny was first born, I would have taken it away in a heartbeat. That chromosome seemed like a thief who was stealing away my "real" daughter. But with time, both Peter and I have come to say we wouldn't take it away even if we had that power. Down syndrome is intrinsic to who Penny is, and to take it away would be to create a new person. If I had the power to change anything, it would be to change the way people perceive individuals with Down syndrome. I'd change media outlets that report on people "suffering" from Down syndrome. I'd change celebrities who use the word "retarded" as a joke. I'd change doctors who think of Down syndrome as a condition that makes life not worth living. I'd change our culture to make it more welcoming. But I wouldn't change Penny.
What is one way Penny has influenced your Christian faith?
When Penny was born, I believed two things: that every human being was created "in God's image" and that faith in God rested upon assent to a series of theological truths. I knew Penny had been created in God's image just as much as I had, and yet I didn't know if she would ever have the capacity to acknowledge faith in God intellectually. I am grateful for the intellectual aspects of my faith, but I no longer believe that a relationship with Jesus rests solely upon intellectual assent. God is too big, too gracious, and too loving to limit relationship to one aspect of our personhood.I now trust that God is the one to initiate relationship, and God receives our response however it comes, whether through eloquent words or wordless praise.
Read more about A Good and Perfect Gift at the Patheos Book Club here.