Our daughter Penny turns 18 today. She’s not at home with us, as it turns out. Rather, she is at a retreat center with a group of other teenagers for a Camp PALS Holiday program. It seems fitting that she would be with friends rather than family for her 18th birthday. It also seems like a signal that this little girl—whose birth and diagnosis of Down syndrome so many years ago prompted so many questions, so many fears, so many frightening hopes—it seems like a signal that she is indeed growing up, just as she should.
I remember the fear that came when I first thought she would never. Never go to college. Never drive. Never have friends. Never leave our home and live independently. Never work.
And then I remember the fear that came when I first thought she would. Would get a job. Would have friends who might hurt her or break her heart. Would risk rejection. Would go to college. Would live apart from us.
I still have plenty of fear when it comes to Penny’s future. But I also have eighteen years of knowing her. Eighteen years of her kindness and humor and intelligence. Eighteen years of her bright eyes and sincerity. Eighteen years of learning what matters to her and how to support her and when to let go. Eighteen years of learning that while fear is powerful, love is even stronger.
I spoke from 1 Corinthians 13 at Penny’s baptism as an infant. And I return to those powerful words today. That love, though it be patient and gentle and kind, is also enduring and strong. That love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I return to the foundational promise that “love never fails.”
Penny’s eighteen years of life have been built and established on a love that is stronger than fear, a love that created her with a purpose, a love that never fails.
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