Is That You, Undiagnosed Disability? Because All I See is Joy.

Hey you, developmental disability of unknown origin but fits the profile of Angelman syndrome, which one in this photo is you? All I see is joy.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 5.52.55 PM

Joy — that term that’s not the same as happiness. Happiness is momentary; joy is sustained contentment, even in the face of adversity.

Hey you, 28 years of developmental disability, your lack of spoken words or lack of mobility didn’t rob this family of our joy. You thought you had us with the sleepless nights, the illnesses, my son’s inability to understand beyond what a toddler comprehends… Ha! You can’t take our joy. Our joy goes way deeper than the roadblocks and detours you threw at us.

Our son, Matt, is evidence of our joy. We believe Matt was made by God, and God is our source of joy. We have gained nothing from you, developmental disability, but we gained everything from watching God use Matt as a compass to guide us to joy. Matt laughs when we want to cry. He’s content, even when his choices and desires are not fulfilled. He’s kind, even when someone might not show him kindness. He’s full of hope each day. He displays the fruits of the spirit effortlessly: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. His example teaches others. He models for me, his dad, his brothers and all who come in contact with him. He models the joy of living a life full of grace and sustained contentment.

So, developmental disability, you didn’t take anything from us. Matt came to us in your packaging, but we continue to experience his gift of joy as each year goes by.

We choose God, we choose joy and we choose Matt!


For all of March, The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Other

Why Cystic Fibrosis Can’t Ignore ‘Dr. Mommy’

Dear cystic fibrosis (CF), We’ve met. Because of you I’ve earned the title of one of those crazy CF mamas, but what does that mean? That means I was forced into the role of a misfit caregiver with a passion for getting it right. I quickly blossomed into a rebel Dr. Mommy who questions doctors’ orders and [...]

Why I Cut My Daughter Some Slack When She Gets Short With Others

To my daughter, The day we received  your diagnosis I told myself and everyone around us that “this is not an excuse for her!” I told them the expectations for you will be the same as those we had for your brother, and we’d expect you to do your best to reach them. And you [...]

Apraxia, You’ve Stolen My Son’s Words, But You Can’t Steal Mine

Hello, Apraxia. Caught you off guard, didn’t I? You’ve stolen my son’s words, but you can’t steal mine. He goes to therapy three times and week and conquers your overwhelming, destructive word-stealing ways. He speaks his own lingo, and though it’s nothing you haven’t heard, his loss of words challenges him daily. It’s a challenge he’s accepted [...]

I Have a Message for All My Son’s Labels

Dear Down syndrome and autism, I love learning new things. When I found out about you, I took on the challenge of learning everything I could about each of you. We’ve been on this journey together for 21 years. First, I read everything I could find on Down syndrome. Some things didn’t seem to fit, [...]