Doctors were first to use the word "special" when it came to
Linda. From the moment of Linda's delivery, she was labeled
"special." Through the years, hundreds of well-meaning neighbors,
friends, and teachers followed suit, maintaining that little Linda
was indeed "special." For Linda, "special" meant she was born with
It didn't take Linda long to realize that sometimes being special
doesn't exactly feel that way. All she ever wanted was to be
normal, to feel normal. But everyone around her always reminded her
that she'd never be like the other kids -- she was special, after
all. Being special meant she was ridiculed by her classmates and
ostracized by a culture that demanded perfection and could stomach
little else. Luckily, Linda and her family found their way to a
place filled with people who understood grace.
At our church, Linda began her life's work -- redefining
"special." It was obvious that Linda needed our church; she needed
a place filled with grace, joy, and God's love. In those early
days, though, none of us knew just how much we needed her.
Despite all odds and obstacles, Linda taught herself to sing, play
the piano, and use sign language. Each time Linda played the piano
or sang during a service, we could feel the angels bending low to
hear her. When she signed a song, we all knew she could hear songs
of the kingdom that none of us had ears to hear. Through the years,
Linda's sincere worship taught our congregation how to worship in
spirit and in truth.
When a dear congregation member passed away, all of us wanted so
badly to honor this woman at a memorial service. People waxed
eloquently and at some length -- but none of us could quite capture
the true spirit of our dear friend. That is, until Linda meekly
rose at the back of the church and said, "She always hugged me and
told me I was beautiful." With those 10 words, Linda hit the mark
we'd all been aiming for.
Years passed, and Linda's aging mother was diagnosed with
Alzheimer's disease. It wasn't long before Linda was taking care of
the mother who'd taken care of her for so long. In the final days,
Linda was the only person who could comfort her mother and convince
her to eat. They had a special bond that none of us could truly
understand. In those last days of her mother's life, Linda
demonstrated nothing short of miraculous love.
Recently Linda was scheduled to sign a song during our Christmas
program. With her usual tenacity, she invited her unchurched
cardiologist to attend. Much to everyone's surprise, he actually
showed up. Witnessing Linda's performance and her sincere love for
God made a difference in this doctor's life. Shortly after coming
to see her perform, he gave his life to God and hasn't missed a
Linda has given our church much more than we've given her. She
works in children's church every week and delivers a smiling,
hugging ministry that can melt even the hardest heart.
In our worship services, we hear musical specials almost weekly.
Yet it isn't very often we're blessed enough to meet and come to
know "specials." When the doctors laid baby Linda in her mother's
arms and labeled her "special," they had no idea just how right
they really were.
Andrew Taylor is a pastor in Elkins, West Virginia.