Mike says Megan, his mentally disable daughter, was the most profound teacher he ever had in his life. She understood the important things of life like unconditional love and forgiveness. Life with Megan, Mike writes, “was joy-filled and enlightening. In her presence, the insanities of this world tended to be exposed.” (15)
Megan was born in Wilmington, NC, in 1984, just before the arrival of a 100-mile-per-hour hurricane. A heavenly omen. Megan's forceful winds blew clarity into her parent's lives. In 1989 a pediatric specialist pronounced Megan mentally disabled. A geneticist said Megan likely had a rare genetic syndrome called Goldenhar. Megan dies when she was ten years old.
Mike has woven his book around the “secrets” of Megan. She'd never go to college. She'd never take the SAT. Yet, “She was an incarnation of God's love.” (25) She taught Mike that God will use brokenness for His glory, that the power is God's not his own.
In a world obsessed with beauty, Megan reminded people that God looked for beauty within. God values the qualities of the heart. Mike says, “she brought out the best in other people, as well as in us.” (40)
Megan also reminded people it is in our weakness that God uses us. “Weak is the new strong.” (72) We share the mystery Paul discovered. One of many stories Mike shares is how a lawyer was changed by the girl who “aspired to nothing but love,” and “had no enemies.” (92)
Another secret Megan taught Mike is that it is only in community that we find what sustains us for the long haul. (128) Just over a decade after Megan died their son Chris was in a serious automobile accident. Mike and Diane were crying, “No, not again.” Their son survived and many supported them and the other families during this time.
“It's … in these friendships that we can call each other to lives that are larger than our disappointments.” (130)
Scars tell stories. Knowing another person means knowing their scars and the pain behind them. Mike shares the role of grief in our lives.
The fourth secret Megan taught Mike is waiting. There is the “not yet” aspect of the Christian life that includes groaning, longing, waiting, and hoping. “...[T]his waiting summons us to courageous living in God's world.” (153) We are reminded, “that God is taking all things – our mistakes, our triumphs, life's joys and fears, all the stuff that's out there – and is producing good. … The 'good' is that God is transforming us into the image of God's Son.” (157) Mike reminds us of the hope in “and yet.”
Mike also speaks of the healing that eventually comes. He spends quite some time on the story of his brother and sister-in-law and the work they have done after the death of their teenaged son.
Mike finally reminds his readers of the home we long for and the reunion that will happen there.
Mike uses stories from the Bible, from books and from personal experience to illustrate the secrets Megan taught him. He retells some Bible stories in a very interesting way, from the major character's viewpoint. He shares many stories from others who have experienced tragedy.
There is an extensivet discussion guide included. Many of the questions are quite personal. They are suitable for individual use or by a group where trust has been formed.
This would be an encouraging book for parents of special needs children. Any parent would benefit from reading this book, reading about the lessons learned in a challenging parental situation.
Mike Cope is an author, blogger, professor, minister and magazine editor. He has written four books, including What Would Jesus Do Today? and One Holy Hunger. He was a minister for many years at the Highland Church in Abilene and now works with Heartbeat Ministries. He and his wife, Diane, live in Abilene, Texas, and have two surviving children.
LeafWood Publishers, 224 pages.
I received a copy of this book from The B&B Media Group for the purpose of this review.