Life Lessons from a Down Syndrome Warrior

Something I saw in my Down's Syndrome cousin that I haven't forgotten.

I think that sometimes the most important things that help us through life can be found in the most surprising of people.

I have a cousin who exhibits the most faith, courage, sincerity, and beauty of almost anyone I know. She inspires me more than I can ever express. And she also has Down Syndrome.

For those of you who don't know, Down Syndrome is a mental instability that affects how the individual thinks, acts, and looks. But it's not something to be frowned upon. On the contrary, my Down Syndrome cousin is one of my role models.

If anyone has reason to be depressed and grumpy, trust me - Annalie (not her real name) does. In addition to her disorder, she lost one of her parents several years ago, had to move to a completely different part of the country, and gets treated differently because of her Down Syndrome. But instead of lashing out in anger or withdrawing in bitterness, Annalie trusts in God. And as she explained to my dad one time, "God made me in a very special way." She doesn't resent God for her Down Syndrome. Instead, she makes the best of it.

Every Sunday, Annalie marches into church, sits down in a pew, and sings her heart out. If our entire church sang as joyfully as she does, we'd be famous. Seriously. I love to hear her sing. Then, during the service, she jots down notes about the sermon so that she can review it later.

Talk about finding joy in God!

And it isn't all an act, either. Annalie is not only one of the most joyful people I know, but she's so sincere, too. One time, my family was taking her to her home, and she was talking about how she missed her dad that passed away. She told us with teary eyes that she knew she'd see him again, but how she didn't have as much faith as she should.

As I listened to Annalie talk, I felt tears rush to my eyes. "Annalie," I said, "you have more faith than almost anyone else I know."

And it's true. Seeing Annalie's faith and joy and love gives me hope. She has so much to pity herself for, but she keeps going. God has done such amazing things through her. I know He's going to reward her beyond anything that anyone could ever fathom.

Annalie is a warrior, and she's winning her battle. Seeing her win, time after time, reminds me that I can, too.

I love you, Annalie. You are my warrior.

The End

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