My Sweet, Sweet Anniebelle
About six years ago, my life was altered by the introduction of a “simple-minded” beauty. I sure wish that I could introduce you all personally to my God-daughter, Andrea. She is an extraordinary young lady. By legal standards, she is considered to be an adult now. But there is something extraordinary about Andrea that keeps her as a child in many ways, not only in her mind and in her heart, but also in her spirit. For whatever she may lack in knowledge, (as the world knows knowledge) she makes up for in faith.
To my knowledge, there isn’t a single person whose life Andrea has touched that has not been changed somehow. That is, not a single person whose heart is not hardened. I have known a few, both children and adults (sadly) who have been rather cruel to her. It’s heartbreaking enough to see a child react to her with cruelty, much less when an adult does it. Nevertheless, she is set apart in this oftentimes very cruel world.
I will never forget the look on my son, Daniel’s face the day he came in from the bus. “Mom, how can anyone know Andrea and not love her?” Something had obviously happened between the time he got on that bus and when he got home. He hardly knew Annie as we’d only lived in that little apartment a couple of weeks. But the compassion on his face told a different story.
“What happened, Son?”
“They were calling her a retard. It was hurting her feelings, making her cry. But they kept doing it anyway. How can people act that way?” Tears filled his eyes.
I didn’t know exactly what to say. I don’t know how people can act that way. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Yes, it felt good to know that my son’s heart is filled with compassion. But that doesn’t change the fact that not all people’s hearts are. I didn’t know who I wanted to hold closer that day, Andrea for her hurt or Daniel because he hurt on her behalf. But all my holding either of them would not change the world. Perhaps, however, it could change their own personal worlds just a little, giving them a ray of hope that not all in this world is cruel.
Daniel has not always been perfectly patient with Andrea. But next to her mother and myself, I don’t know of anyone who has been more patient with her than he’s been. She calls him her brother and her friend. This racially, sexually, financially, religiously biased world doesn’t understand how a very intellectually gifted white boy is so filled with compassion and genuine brotherly love for an intellectually challenged black girl. But we, true Church, understand that; don’t we?
Jesus was a Jew! Hello! He was neither black nor white. But that racial argument is beside the point. It’s old and it’s ridiculously pointless. We see beyond the colors (not necessarily referring to racial ethnicity here) of a person and into the “colors” of a person’s heart. We love Annie because of who she is ... a beautiful picture of innocence, a wondrous portrait painted in the image of the Messiah. And she loves us with the heart of Jesus. She’s a GIFT to us, wrapped up in the colors of a rainbow that too many can’t see for their own biased, short-sighted vision.
Let me step quickly away from that sensitive subject and into Andrea’s history: She was born extremely early, in her mother’s fourth month of pregnancy if I’m not mistaken. She spent the first year of her life in a hospital. She had to have heart surgery. She also had to receive an artificial chest plate. She’s definitely a walking miracle. But her medical problems were not all solved with surgery. Andrea’s early birth delayed much of her brain development, leaving her to be challenged in the area of maturity up to this day. Half of the wavy pattern of her brain was left smooth, rather than curving, as you might have seen in pictures or on a model of a “normal” brain in books or Biology class.
YET, Andrea has something that comes quite naturally to her that most people lack. She has the faith of a very small child. It’s a powerful, powerful faith. I do not envy Andrea her position in this world. But I certainly envy her faith! Oh, that I could put as much faith in my prayers and my God and in the Word of Truth as Andrea does!
It was her fifteenth birthday. I was taking her to the mall to let her help pick out her own gift. We’d gone through a rather rough suburb of South Dallas to drop my daughter off at her husband’s place of employment. It wasn’t somewhere that I would have wanted to stop and knock on someone’s door. We’d just left there and were on our way back through town to catch the highway that led to the business district of Mesquite and the mall. I was about to stop at a red light when my “check engine” light came on. Fear said “If your car stalls at that light, you’re going to be stuck in this neighborhood. The car is probably overheating even now. But if you can get on the highway, the cool air flowing through the engine will cool it down long enough for you to make it to the mall.”
“Annie,” I said shakily, “pray Sweetheart, because there’s something wrong with my car. We just need to make it to the mall and then I can call for help.”
She was quiet then, obviously praying. As for me, I prayed continuously. I made it through the light and onto the highway and continued to pray all the way up highway 635 and to the mall. But the warning light wasn’t going off. Twenty minutes later, I was parked. I killed the engine and opened the hood to see if perhaps it was something obvious. “I’m just going to look and see if I can tell what the deal is. Then we can go in and call someone.”
Nothing. There was no sound of boiling water, no smell of burning wire, no obvious leaking of any kind, no broken belt. There did not appear to be anything wrong. “Well, I don’t see anything. We’ll go in and call, but first I want to make sure it’s going to start.”
I turned the ignition over and the car started right up. But to my amazement, there was no “check engine” light. “Hmm, that’s strange. There’s no light.”
Andrea looked at me as though I was born that morning. “Uh, Mama Treava, I prayed.” I don’t have a clue what or how she prayed, but I’m sure it was not “God, help us make it to the mall,” despite me and my desperate pleas to the Throne of Grace. My car was miraculously fixed! I had no problems with it whatsoever, not even weeks later. It was simply fixed.
I have been to college three times. I graduated two of those three times with honors and was on the dean’s list when I pulled out of college three quarters of the way through a bachelor’s in fine arts. I’m not telling you that for the sake of boasting. By the world’s standards, I am a very highly intelligent person. But I felt like an ant that day. I have a lot to learn from Andrea. We all do. She’s been a teacher to me, as much as she’s been a daughter to me. Everyone ought to have an Andrea in their lives. I learned a number of lessons from her that day.
God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we think He ought to, but He always has our best interests in mind. His thoughts are higher than ours. He’s the Giver of good things. We have whatever we ask for in faith, as long as it lines up with His will and His Word. It’s impossible to please Him without faith. Childlike faith goes a long, long way. Never judge a book by its cover. People like Annie know what it is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a child.
Lord God, let me walk through this world with the gift of intelligence that You gave to me without ever taking it for granted. Let me never, ever assume that a person of lesser intelligence doesn’t have the most powerful prayer weapon there is -- childlike faith that can move mountains. Bless Andrea and every other young man or woman like her with comfort and peace that far, far surpasses their understanding. Hold them up by Your right hand and let Your Church see what childlike faith should look like. Surround them with people who deeply love them. Protect their innocent hearts from being so broken and discouraged by those who are cruel.
Forgive us, Your people, for the biases we hold. Show us how to love one another in the wholeness of truth. Thank You, Father, for allowing me the honor of having someone so beautiful as Andrea in my life. It is a privilege and a gift that I never earned. She is the epitome of grace, lovely in my sight and surely in Yours. All glory and honor to You, oh God, Maker of heaven and earth and all the wonderfully blessed Andreas in our world. In Jesus' perfect Name, Amen.
© Joyce Pool
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Joyce, thank you so much for your comment. This is a wonderful story of God's love and compassion. I'm not computer savvy and I don't know how to find My Space on the computer but I would like to be your friend. Sylvia (Janie)
Treava, As I started to read this wonderful posting, my heart ached and just broke, reading about all that little Annie endured. But, then her love and faith took me to a height far greater than I could have imagined! What a precious and extraordinary person she is, and what a wonderful Child of God! You've written so many nuggets of pure wisdom in here, Treava. Everyone who reads this will benefit from your great compassion and Annie's faith. And...only when the world becomes 'color blind' and develops a Godly love will there ever be peace in people's hearts. Thank you for sharing from your heart - it certainly reached mine! I love you. Peggy
And, I also want to just hug Daniel for his incredible compassion and caring! Between the 'Daniels' and the 'Annies' of the world, things look a lot brighter and more full of promise! More love, Peggy
This was deeply touching, Joyce. Thank you for encouraging us with this wonderful piece. May God continue to fill Andrea's life and ministry with the gift of faith--this time not only to fix machines but to "fix" the Body of Christ. Amen.
Joyce, It is obvious that God joins situations and people (just the right people)to get His point across. His "mysterious" ways help me to look forward and have hope. He has certainly blessed Andrea (with her childlike faith) and you (with the gift of conveying His message).
Joyce this is simply beautiful and it contains a lesson for us all. Andrea has a special gift that leaves us all with wonderment. May God continue to bless her and to bless you for being so loving and understanding. I love you, Sharon