The Prodigal Son is my favorite Bible story. I like it because it is about forgiveness and the kind of love that doesn’t give up. Forgiveness is important but it is also really hard. It is hard for me to ask for forgiveness and it’s hard for me to forgive other people, even God. But my parents still love me when I make mistakes and if you wait too long, one day it could be too late to ask for or give your forgiveness.
I grew up mostly in Arlington with my mom, my dad and my sister. I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church and we went to church a lot. I remember being a little scared of the man on the Cross. Sometimes I even had nightmares about him. My dad still goes to church almost every day and my mother loves to look at the statue of the Blessed Mother in her room.
There have been a few moments when it felt like God was with me. The umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck when I was born but in the end I was okay. And I still remember how happy I was when my little sister was born! I had prayed and prayed to God for someone else to play with and there she was.
Still, feeling close to God has not always been easy for me. For a long time I was angry that God gave me Down Syndrome. It was hard for me to see my sister get married. I love her very much, I just wish I could do the same things she does. At times I have also been angry at God for taking my grandmother and grandfather away. I will always remember how I felt when my grandfather gave me my first sip of coffee and i’ll always remember the dress with the ice cream cone on it my grandmother gave me. Besides my parents they made me feel loved and I still miss them.
I started coming to Sunday Fellowship in the fall of 2014, right around the time I moved into a new apartment with my provider, Jody. I went to Fellowship mostly to make my mother happy but now it is the place where I focus on the good things in my life. I have decided to live with Down’s Syndrome instead Down’s Syndrome running my life. It’s like my friend Norah says all the time, “I have UP syndrome, not Down Syndrome”!
I feel like I can accept myself and other people more now. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t love people just for what they give you, not your family and not God. If you do that then you would be like the Prodigal Son, who wasted all his fathers money. I want to be like the Father who forgave both his sons for their mistakes because to have real love, you have to be able to forgive.
I want to thank my family and Jody for all their love and support and I also want to thank God and all of you for letting me share my testimony today. And a special thank you to Melissa Tustin for helping me.