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LOVING HOLLAND

I love what Emily Kingsley says about disappointment and handling disappointment. She’s talking about the disappointment when your kids don’t turn out the way you thought they ought to turn out -- particularly a handicapped child. She says, "I’m often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability. To try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it and to imagine how it would feel, I tell them this:

"When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. You’re going to see the coliseum, the Sistene Chapel, the gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases it Italian, and it’s all very exciting. After several months of preparation and anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags, and off you go to Italy. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?" you say. "I signed up for Italy. I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy." But there’s been a change in the flight plans, and they’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing to remember is they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place filled with pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guidebooks, and you must learn a whole new language and you must meet a whole new group of people that you would never have met before. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, and it’s less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you begin to look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. And Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy and bragging about what a wonderful time they’ve had there. And for the rest of your life you’ll say, ’Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. At least that’s what I had planned.’ And the pain of that experience will never, ever, ever go away. The loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy that very special, very lovely thing about Holland."

(From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, "Angry With God" 2/23/2009)

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