“Taylor’s Talent,” Liahona, Apr. 2010, 40–41
“Can you tell me what talents Taylor has that I could share with the class?” my eight-year-old’s Primary teacher asked me. She had telephoned because Taylor’s class would be talking about talents they had received from Heavenly Father.
My mind went blank. I thought back over the past eight years, trying to come up with an answer. At four days old Taylor had suffered a stroke that left him with profound brain damage and an uncontrollable seizure disorder. He is unable to see, speak, or communicate. He has never progressed past a six-month-old child’s level of mental development. He spends most of his days in a wheelchair as we care for him and try to keep him comfortable.
We cheered when he learned to giggle or drink from a special cup, and we celebrated when he could stand and take a few steps. But while we cheered and celebrated on the outside, on the inside we wept with the realization that these small achievements were probably as significant as any Taylor would attain. Somehow I didn’t think this was what his Primary teacher wanted to hear.
I cleared my throat and uncomfortably answered, “Taylor really doesn’t have any talents that I can think of.”
This kind sister then forever altered my relationship with my son by her response.
“As I thought about this lesson, I realized that every child of God has a talent,” she said. “I would suggest that Taylor’s talent is that he teaches others to serve. If it is OK with you, I would like to talk to our class about how I have noticed Taylor’s talent here at church. I have seen the other Primary children learn to push his wheelchair, open doors for him, and overcome their fear to wipe his chin with a handkerchief when needed. I think that is a great talent by which he blesses our lives.”
I murmured in agreement, and we quietly said good-bye. I wonder if that Primary teacher knew what a profound impact that conversation would have on my life. Taylor remained the same. He still requires a great deal of care. Hospitals, doctors, and therapists still take up a large part of my life. But my perspective changed, and I began to notice his talent.
I saw how people around us would alter their behavior as they sought to care for him. I also noticed how he reminds us to slow down, notice his needs, and become more compassionate, observant, and patient.
I do not know God’s purpose in having Taylor face such daunting challenges, but I believe that his Primary teacher gave me a small glimpse of it. He is here to share his talent with us. He is here to give us the opportunity to learn how to serve.