Today we finish Wonder by
The section today covers parts 6, 7, and 8. Or August, Miranda, and August. Much of this section was around the play that Justin, Via, and Miranda were in. Oh the tension that poor Via felt with having to chose between keeping her special place (school) or share it with, let’s be honest, Auggie and the uniqueness of his face. And then in the midst of it all, Daisy’s death!
If you had a pet as a child, you probably can relate to how large and significant the death of your dear pet. I just ached for them all and how Daisy’s death and the play got intwined.
We also got to hear from Miranda and why she drifted away from Via. Hearing from each character reminds me of how much more is going on for everyone. E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. Think of the house helper you have. Think of your chid’s classmate. Think of the bus driver. It can be overwhelming if we think about everyone, but it is helpful to every now and then be reminded we probably only know a fraction of what is going on.
In Auggie’s last section three things stood out to me:
- How symbolic his hearing aids were — don’t we all, at times, resist that which is best for us? And then how freeing it was and how wonderful “hearing” really is?
- I loved reading about the boys rallying around Auggie and Jack and through the crisis of being chased, being pulled them together! Again, sounds like our lives overseas, right?
- Auggie’s dad’s kind words when he explained why he got rid of his helmet: “And the real, real, real, real truth is: I missed seeing your face, Auggie. I know you don’t always love it, but you have to understand . . . I love it. I love this face of your, Auggie, completely and passionately. And it kind of broke my heart that you were always covering it.”
Let’s talk more about these themes in the comments. But we have such a treat today! Our very own Julie B. wrote me last month after she started Wonder sharing a bit of her story. I asked her if she would be willing to share with us. She checked with her son, Jonathan, and then offered these thoughts to us.
Thank you Julie!
I am privileged to be the mother of a son born with a facial difference. Our second child, Jonathan, was born three months before we were to move overseas. At birth, he looked “different,” but the doctors could not come up with a definitive diagnosis. So off to Taiwan we went!
Jonathan had large Sylvester Stalone-like eyes and an exceptionally small jaw. Our Chinese friends loved his big, beautiful blue (somewhat protruding) eyes and could not resist touching the cheeks of this cute little blonde American boy. (At one point he had ring worm on his cheek for all of the love pats he received!) The positive reactions Jonathan received during his first two years of life, helped to cultivate in him a wonderful sense of self- esteem and confidence. He was too young to realize that he looked “different.”
An American pediatrician friend finally suggested a diagnosis of Crouzons Syndrome, which when confirmed at that time, required us to live in America during his years of physical growth in order for him to receive multiple surgeries and specialized care.
The between-surgery years were filled with ordinary adventures in living out life for our family. Jon developed normally, attended public school, played soccer and participated in all those things little boys love to do. Ironically, one day in seeing a man with cerebral palsy having great difficulty walking, it was Jonathan who said in the loudest voice EVER, “Mommy, what’s wrong with that man?” Jon’s question truly was a child’s innocent wonderment in seeing someone who was different, which became a teaching moment for the family.
I read Wonder with a Kleenex in one hand as I re-lived a few of our family’s joys and sorrows through some of the characters in the book. I have shared so many similar thoughts and feelings. We have felt the quick uncomfortable glances, the outright stares, and the cruel comments. We have also encountered some truly kind people. I became proficient at taking “awkwardly-kind” well meaning statements and redirecting them into an educational moment for a child (or his parent).
Throughout this journey with its highs and lows, we have seen God’s faithful provision and have been reminded of God’s sovereign hand on every part of our lives. He has been and continues to be always faithful. He is completely trustworthy. (These lessons are in the continuous tense – I continue to need to be reminded of these truths daily.)
During Jon’s college years, I became the Craniofacial Team Nurse at the Children’s Hospital where I worked. Little did I know, that my experiences as a mom to Jon would be part of God’s preparation for me in the role of coordinating care and assisting families as they advocated for their children with facial differences. God, in his sovereignty has also used all of these experiences in Jon’s life to shape him for his work with students and MK’s in Alaska.
One of my favorite scenes in the book is graduation and Mr. Tushman’s remarks to Auggie’s class. (Don’t you wish you had a teacher like Mr. Tushman?)
“If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”
The message of being a little kinder than necessary is applicable to all of us. Whether we are in an unfamiliar culture with uncomfortable differences or in our home culture, we will encounter people who are different. The elderly lady who fumbles with her wallet in line at the grocery store, the taxi driver with an attitude who is having a bad day, or the team member who requires extra grace. In these circumstances can we act a little kinder than necessary?
Can we confront our own discomfort with differences by choosing kindness as we daily live out the gospel in the place where God has called us?
How have you recently acted kinder than necessary?
A wonderful resource for teaching children (and adults) about differences:
Just the Way I Am: God’s Good Design In Disability by Krista Horning
Thank you Julie. I cannot believe how many parallels there are. I’d love to hear more about your process leaving the field and what Jonathan’s up to these days. So many questions and I bet I’m not alone with this desire to know more :).
See you all in the comments,
P.S. Next week we start with the introduction and chapter 1 of our fall book Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible by