What’s the old saying? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Trash /traSH/ noun. discarded matter; refuse
Trash is something we discard. It is so valueless that it isn’t worth keeping, you just toss it and walk on. We throw things away every day, many times a day, and we rarely pause for thought.
Treasure /treZHer/ noun. A quantity of precious metals, gems or other valuable objects. verb. to keep carefully (a valuable or valued item).
We rarely find treasure but when we do, our lives change for the better. We treasure the things that society highly values. We keep it in gilded boxes, carefully preserved, displayed proudly for all to admire.
When we were in China, one of our guides in Beijing asked us why we were there. We hadn’t had our Gotcha moment yet and I proudly showed her a photo of Lian.
She looked at him and frowned at me, “Oh, something wrong with him?”
“No, nothing is wrong with him.” I stated quietly, “He has Down Syndrome, he’s an orphan… he needs a home.”
“Oh, you make big trouble for yourself!” she laughingly declared in broken English, shaking her head in dismay. “Why you do that?”
My heart sank.
Why do I do that?
Let’s see, her assumption was that this small child must be somehow flawed, something must be wrong with him, especially since he’s an abandoned boy. Boys are more highly valued in some cultures. He must be considered worthless, too sick, too damaged, or too much work, and she’s assuming that that is why he ended up as an orphan.
She viewed him as abandoned. Discarded. Not worth a thought. Out of sight, out of mind, let’s live our lives and if we’re comfortable, why should we be concerned about these children?
As I considered this, I realized that although this one person, or the entire nation or the world, for that matter, might consider us foolish for taking in a little, unwanted person, we have the unique privilege of seeing this soul with a wholly, different set of eyes.
What one society considers unworthy, we know without a doubt that he is treasure.
Our God lovingly crafted this treasure, and what an immeasurable treasure he is.
This child. This sweet child who smells of strawberries and cheerios, was left in a baby island when he was 6 weeks old. His note simply stated that he has Down Syndrome, that he’s a good baby, please take care of him…..The mama also wrote that “he is my angel.”
That one phrase spoke volumes to me. I’m sure he was her angel. I’m sure she loved him dearly, but you see, my friend, we live in a world where the vast majority of Down Syndrome children don’t even see the light of day. Iceland boasts that they haven’t had a Down Syndrome birth in 5 years. Some people want to eliminate this sweet extra chromosome altogether.
Whatever doubts, fears, or family pressures she had to leave him, I’m sure it came from misinformation that pretty much ALL cultures of the world are throwing at mothers who carry Down Syndrome angels in their wombs.
As I’m learning more and more about the dire straights of parents who have special needs children in other countries, I cannot and I never will judge them for the heart rending decisions they are forced to make. Watching a recent documentary of a family with a child who had cerebral palsy, the child’s care cost $1500 a month. What was the parents’ income? $400 a month.
Some governments won’t lift a finger in these cases. In their eyes, the child is worthless. There are countries where you cannot get medical help for your child unless you pay the hospital upfront. This means that if your baby has a heart condition and is turning blue, gasping for air, lethargic, and you rush him to the hospital, he will not receive treatment until you pay.
If you don’t have the money to pay, what do you do? You choose between abandoning your child so they can receive life saving surgery or keeping your baby and watching her die in your arms.
What is your choice? Choose wisely.
Another parent tearfully lamented that when he took his sick daughter to a hospital, the hospital wouldn’t accept her for treatment because her expensive condition meant that she was considered worthless. The parents were strongly advised by the medical staff to abandon her. Trash. Something to be discarded, someone not worth keeping. Leave her and move on.
How do we change the perspective of leaders and societies to see the infinite value of these precious souls?
I think it starts with us.
You and me. Down syndrome children used to not be up for adoption in many countries because they were considered un-adoptable, unwanted, unworthy. They languished in institutions for their entire short lives.
Now? We are bravely showing the world that they have value.
We will fight and work for these children to have families. Their files are finally being prepared because parents like you and me are willing to shout their value to the world. Down Syndrome children used to not even be up for adoption.
How amazingly incredible is this?
You see, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
Doesn’t that statement “but God” just give you chills? But God…..sees, He knows, He plans, He changes the hearts of parents half a world away, He provides a way.
BUT GOD gently teaches us that these children are infinitely valuable, maybe even more so than you or me, because of their helplessness, because of their intense neediness, because of their deep losses.
And so, God asks each of us, He’s asking YOU, as followers of Christ, to look at these children through His eyes….. as treasures.
Something that is infinitely valuable, something worth the work, and the time, the money, the mountains of paperwork, and the perceived “inconvenience”.
What one family, one government, one country, one world treats as trash, I am honored to count it as treasure, and what a beautiful, sticky, funny, loving, stubborn, mischievous treasure it is! Our lives are forever altered and our once apathetic hearts made all the richer for this treasure that we are honored to have in our family.
Besides, even if it cost a million dollars, wouldn’t he be worth it? His life, his eternal soul, his story…He is priceless.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Where is your treasure? Is it in a glass box labelled “please look but don’t touch” cordoned with velvet ropes? Is it on display in your garage, expensively shiny and red, ready to turn heads? Is it coldly lit in numbers on your bank’s computer screen?
Or is your treasure intricately woven with the heart of a soul that you are investing in for eternity? Eternal treasure.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For were your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21