While I was in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, I had the pleasure of meeting a camper named Anne. When I met Anne, I learned that she had a form of autism among other problems. My immediate response was to feel sorry for Anne. As I watched her at camp, I felt such pity when she had problems expressing herself, when she acted out around others, and especially when she could not do many of the activities that the other campers could do. My heart ached because I wondered if she would ever experience the joy of going on a date, playing a team sport, or enjoying slumber parties like other girls her age. I prayed for her and her family, and I was bothered to think that so many people are born into the world with problems like Anne must face.
One day, Anne spent the day with Jennifer and me. Anne quickly bonded with us, especially with Jennifer. I had an opportunity to ask Anne’s mother about Anne, and Anne’s mother explained that among Anne’s other health problems, she had fetal alcohol syndrome. She explained that just as a drunk displays no inhibitions when intoxicated, the part of Anne’s brain that regulates such activity was destroyed; thus, Anne did not have inhibitions and often acted on impulse.
That night, we had a powerful worship service during which each of the campers went to prayer stations and then placed symbolic items on a cross. When Anne got to the cross, both Jennifer and I sat in tears as we watched Anne attempt to place her items on the cross. No matter how hard Anne tried, her hands would not do what she wanted them to do. Her mom helped her place her items on the cross, and then Anne did something very surprising. Anne walked up to both Jennifer and myself. She hugged us, kissed us on the cheek, and then held out her cheek waiting for a kiss in return.
In that moment, I realized that I had misjudged Anne. I had observed Anne by the world’s standards, and all that I had been able to see was a girl that needed pity because she was not “whole”. My point of view changed when Anne kissed me, without hesitation and without inhibition. I realized then that Anne had a gift – Anne was capable of doing something that few of us ever do – she loves others completely, without hesitation, and without inhibitions. Anne not only loves without inhibition, but she shows others her emotions. Anne is raw and real in a way that I will probably never accomplish – she loves without worrying what others will think, she loves without considering whether she will be loved in return, and she loves with unselfish and careless freedom.
In Ephesians 2:10, the Bible states, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” As Mike shared on Sunday, we are God’s works of art. Although Anne may be flawed in the world’s eyes, she is a work of art. Most importantly, Anne is living out the verse as she does good works by loving without reservation.