A couple of years ago, I spent the day at the offices of Insight for Living to conduct some interviews with members of the Swindoll family for Inclusion Fusion. It was an absolute delight to get to know this group! We enjoyed some splendid discussions about disabilities, sibling relationships, grief and suffering. The highlight of my day, however, was my conversation with then-14-year-old Jonathan, the son of Colleen Swindoll-Thompson and grandson of Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll.
Jonathan was a featured speaker for Inclusion Fusion, and he has much insight and wisdom to share about the Church’s role in soothing broken hearts.
Jonathan has been “labeled” with complicated diagnoses as he has grown up. While these diagnoses help his teachers, therapists and family understand him and his needs, the label that most aptly describes him is “Child of the King.” This is a label he wears proudly, and because of this, he has much to teach.
I have “known” Jonathan for several years, as Colleen and I have been friends and colleagues, sharing our kids’ triumphs and struggles. Until our trip to Dallas, however, I had never actually met him. When he rounded the corner in the Insight offices, I knew right away that this long-anticipated moment had arrived.
“Jonathan!” I said. “I’m so glad to finally meet you. I’m Katie.”
His bespectacled eyes regarded me, and he sized me up.
“We’re equal,” he said solemnly.
I smiled. “We are.” I slipped off my heels and said, “And now we’re even more equal!” He compared his height to mine, smiled and nodded and then off he went to find a spot to read.
During our day at IFL, we adults talked a lot about God, suffering, prayer and theology. The discussions were enriching, and both stretched and comforted me. However, nothing that was said came close to inspiring me the way Jonathan’s statement did. In two words, he wrapped up 1 Corinthians 12 in a delightfully boyish and joyful package.
We’re equal. All of us…regardless of size or diagnosis or strengths or needs…and we’re all necessary to what God has planned for the Church.
I hope that the truth of Jonathan’s words will press us forward as we focus on awareness and understanding for friends and families affected by autism today….and every day.
To listen to some of my interviews with the Swindoll family, please visit Steve Grcevich’s blog.