“You see this crease,” the technician pointed to the faint line across the back of my unborn daughter’s neck, “This is a sign of Down syndrome.” The technician continued to show me the signs from the sonogram that spelled Down syndrome, a chromosonal disorder that results in developmental delays, heart problems, hypotonia and a whole host of health challenges.
I felt like someone punched me in the stomach when the geneticist, who I met with after reviewing the results of the sonogram, advised me to “terminate the pregnancy.” She was a petite young brunette who I guessed had young kids if she had any kids. “It’s up to you how you are going to handle having a child with Down syndrome, but I would advise you to terminate the pregnancy.” She continued to explain the health horrors that waited for me when my daughter was born.
I called my husband, Jerome, as soon as I was in the car away from prying eyes. I sobbed as I told him that our unborn daughter had Down syndrome. “Leilani, I’ve already called the pastors. They are waiting for you. Go straight to the church.” “I don’t want to go,” I sobbed. I wanted to go to the nearest bar and get drunk. “Honey, they are waiting for you. Go! Call me after meeting with them.”
Tears spilled everywhere and the last thing I wanted to do was to talk to the pastors. I was working on staff at the World Revival Church and God had set me free from depression at this church. I was in my dream position running the public relations department for one of the fastest growing ministries in the metro Kansas City area. I was ashamed that I carried a child with a disability. God judged me.
I tried to review the last 10 years of my life and isolate the acts that may have offended God and caused Him to give me a child with a disability. I had sacrificed. I had devoted my talent to His cause. I do everything I knew to do what was right. What caused this judgment?
When I walked into the room, the pastors stood up. Pastor Steve and Kathy Gray and Pastor Tom and Diana Trout. I admired them, wanted to be like them and now I felt like dirt. “Why did God judge me?” I asked immediately. I could see tears come to Pastor Steve’s eyes and Pastor Diana embraced me. I fell into her arms sobbing.
“We’re all under God’s judgement,” Pastor Steve replied. “We live in a fallen world and things happen. This isn’t because you did something wrong Leilani.” We sat down and the next thing I said, “I’m most concerned about what Christians are going to say. I’ve heard crazy teaching blaming people for their own sickness. I don’t want anyone coming up to me saying crazy stuff blaming me for this.”
I broke down and cried again and Pastor Kathy Gray, a very petite attractive woman grabbed me by the shoulders. Her fierce blue eyes shined brightly as she declared, “Leilani, you tell me the name of any one in our church who tells you crazy stuff about your daughter and I will punch them in the stomach.” I started laughing so hard because I could see her doing this. I’ve seen her fight harder for people than they fight for themselves.
As I laughed, the weight and the dread of the situation lifted off of me. I felt a joy swirl around me like life. They began to share how this unborn girl was my daughter first and not a disability. “We don’t know how severe this is,” said Pastor Diana. “We’re going to pray and believe that God is going to heal your daughter.”
She reminded me that God answered the desire of my heart for a daughter. I felt like God was caring for me through them. I decided to limit the number of people that would know about my daughter. I wanted to be surrounded by faith, love, hope and joy. For nine months, I carried the news inside of me about my daughter. Thankfully she was born on April 18th with no major health challenges. In fact, the doctor didn’t think she had Down syndrome because she was physically perfect and he ordered more tests.
The tests came back positive but today I know she is not God’s judgment. God has shown me His goodness, His faithfulness and His love through D’Andra. She loves to worship and pray and will spontaneously show up in my office with a cup of coffee or bowl of fruit for me. D’Andra wants to serve and she loves people. Her teachers have told me that she is the leader in her class.
Do you feel like God has judged you with a disease or sickness that you are fighting? He has not come to judge you but to save you. Let me know what you’re fighting. I want to fight for you just like that petite brunette with the fiery blue eyes who grabbed me and said she would punch anyone in the stomach who said something inappropriate to me. I’ll punch your enemy for you too!