I love it when my son Tim leaves me messages on my voice mail. They almost always start out with, “Hi Mom. This is Timothy Robert Hubach. Your only son with Down syndrome.” Just in case I forgot. Well, one night, Tim (my “only son with Down syndrome”) and I tried to make a quick trip to WalMart to pick up a few items. Afterwards, I arrived home declaring, “Never again on a Friday night!” Now, it wasn’t because of anything Tim did. Quite the opposite. He was delightful. In fact, he was such a popular customer that it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get through the store. By the time we were done, I counted eleven people who knew Tim and had stopped to talk with him. In almost every case, I introduced myself saying, “Hi! I’m Tim’s mom.” And in almost every case—after the visitors had left, I asked Tim, “Who was that?” To which he replied, “I don’t know!”
“How does he do that?” was a frequent, head-shaking observation of Freddy’s (my only son without Down syndrome—(smile)) over the years. Growing up as Tim’s sibling, and living as Tim’s parents, has increasingly been kind of like a toned down version of living with a rock star. We live in a small town, and virtually everybody knows Tim Hubach. Or at least knows about Tim Hubach. Or at least recognizes Tim Hubach. Sometimes, that is for wonderful, heart-warming reasons. Hooray! And, sometimes…well, let’s not go there. Like the time he was on a local Christian camp video, filmed at the special needs camp he was attending. All the other kids were paying attention to the teaching program, except Tim, whose mind was obviously elsewhere. He was sitting on a bench in the back row, holding a stick like it was a cigar stub—a “stogie”—pretending to blow rings of smoke. On camera. Yep. For all of the Brethren Church in Lancaster County to see. That’s my boy.
Anyway, back to the point at hand. Actually, that’s not my boy. That’s one of my boys. And if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves—as family members—losing our moorings with regard to our identity. It’s so easy, in a family touched by disability, for the person with special needs to just slide into the center of the family circle—kind of like newborn babies do, temporarily, in typical family life. But in this case, they never leave, or they keep re-appearing. That’s really not a good thing when it happens. Because only one person is ever intended to be the consistent center of a family circle—and that’s the Lord himself. Like a tire, family members are meant to live together on the rim and God is the hub. Of course, we are all deeply connected to each other—and we ought to be! And yes, sometimes we have family members who have greater needs—even tremendous needs—which means a lot of “tire balancing” has to happen on a regular basis. But we are also created by God as individuals—precious image-bearers—who have unique and valuable purposes which are rooted in our identity in God himself, and in our salvation found in Christ alone.
So I ask you today: Where is your identity? Where is mine? Am I Tim’s mom? Or am I Steph Hubach, divine image bearer and daughter of the King—to whom He happens to have given some unique responsibilities in caring for Tim Hubach?
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!” —I John 3:1a.
God bless you today my friend. Divine image bearer. Daughter or son of the King, to whom he has entrusted great responsibilities—and given you Himself to help you bear them.
In His Name,