Letter #677: Emerson’s “Shake It Off”


Dear Emerson,

Hey buddy, it’s me Lindsay, your aunt. You won’t understand this now, but I’m writing this because I know one day you will.

About 32 months ago, I received the news I’d be an aunt again. I’m not sure there’s a more exciting role in life that requires as little responsibility! I get to love on you and laugh with you any time I want, but at the end of the day when you’re dirty, tired, sick and cranky, you’re not mine to handle. I get to share in most of the highlights of your world, but I miss most of the hard work. Not a bad gig if you ask me!

As you were growing in your mom’s belly, I prayed for you often. For your health and development, but probably even more for your salvation. About 5 months in, you mom’s belly was really starting to turn into a basketball. I received a call at camp in the middle of the summer telling me you had Down’s Syndrome.

Not the call I was expecting about you. If anything I thought the fam was going to tell me you were the girl they still don’t have. Instead, this news ensued doubt, fear, questioning and more. We all know people who birth “abnormal’ babies, but nobody expects it to be them. We didn’t expect it to be you.

Born 6 weeks early. 4 months in the NICU. Open-heart surgery. Near death. Miraculous recovery. Growing strength and ability daily. A smile that takes over a room and is rarely absent. Reaching for and befriending all you come in contact with because you don’t know a stranger. Love pats on faces and heads. Two and a half years later, the boy who is changing the lives of those near and far.

I don’t understand all the whys of life. It’d be easy to question why you aren’t “normal.’ But what is normal? Normal is easy. Normal is boring. Instead, in your extra chromosome, your ‘abnormalities’, you bring perspective to life like “normal’ never could. Instead, you are making each of us better, more compassionate, less concerned with the status quo. Instead, you are teaching those around you that God truly does have the ability to work all things together for good.

Thanks for teaching us in a unique way to “Shake It Off” and not allow culture’s view of normal to define us. Whether it’s a physical limitation, acceptance of wrong as right or pressures to look a certain way, your joy reminds me that my reaction to things dictate their affect on me. If I choose joy like I see in you, those things can’t define me.

Thanks for softening me. Thanks for bringing us more laughs than you know and for your latest obsession with Taylor Swift. I’m sorry your parents torment you during your naps, but your dance moves are just so cute! I won’t be shocked if the “Shake It Off” lyrics are your first words!

{Seriously, you have to go watch these videos of Emerson and Shake It Off! He’s on EllenTube and YouTube! Feel free to share these and bring joy to others!}

Buddy, know you are loved and still being prayed for.


Aunt Lindsay


Here are other posts for the rest of the story:

Letter #444: ‘Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus’ Response

Dear YouTube videos,

It’s insane to me that we are able to post any footage we want in a venue where the entire world has access to view any clip we could ever want to see. It’s also crazy which ones of you end up going viral. Charlie bit my fingerEvolution of Dance. Both hilarious. Both with billions of views.

This week my Twitter and Facebook feeds blew up with the new, hot one of you. A young man’s spoken word synopsis of “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.’ It’s up to nearly 13 million views.

Talented kid. Initially appealing. My feeds later blew up with responses and links to various blogs written on the subject matter. This is by far the best one I’ve found.

Everyone else is writing about it, so I figured I needed to as well. Kidding, this is far from my style. In all reality, I received a phone call inquiring my thoughts on this one of you. This coupled with how many of my “friends’ (I use this lightly when referring to social media) were enamored by this, here goes nothing. *****If you haven’t watched the video, it might help to watch first.*****

Religion. Do any two people in the entire world have the same views or definition of this word? Some consider it their denominational affiliation. Others their ticket to heaven. Others their way of walking with the Lord. Making a blanket statement that Jesus came to  abolish religion is a powerful statement, one I don’t think can be accepted as truth. Scripturally, this is never stated. Jesus does say He didn’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). Jesus was a Jew. Jesus asks us to keep His commandments/words (John 14:15, 21, 23-24). Based on this alone, I don’t think Jesus came to abolish religion.

Did Jesus challenge religious men? Often. The Pharisees. Did Jesus claim religion is where our salvation lies? Never. He actually says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). Jesus gave everything for us and in turn He commands and deserves our everything. Religion will not suffice. Attending church, not doing bad things and helping others in need are never going to replace Jesus or save us.  Christ alone saves, but once we truly understand and meet Jesus we’re His. We will never be perfect, but our purpose in life is to become more like Him and bring glory to His name. How can our lives not change upon meeting the Son of God??

Great points are made in this video. My favorite might be the elevation of Christ in the final sentences. “Not based on my merits but Jesus’ obedience alone; Because He took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down His face; He took what we all deserved, I guess that’s why you call it grace.” These words are exactly right. Christ died the death we deserve, the death I deserve. When we grasp the fact Jesus gave up everything for us, our only reasonable response is to give everything to Him in return. Yes, salvation is completely based on Christ’s obedience and grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we accept this our only reasonable response is to submit to His authority and obey His commands. This may look like religion from the outside looking in, but truthfully this is the only thing that makes sense. Why would we follow someone we don’t agree with and long to model our lives after?

Great points are made in this video. I am also weary of other portions. I applaud the boldness and passion, but this is also what gets believers into trouble. Do not be afraid to speak up, but also be rooted in the Word and truth. We will all make mistakes. Heck, I may have made one in writing this. The majority of our mistakes won’t result in 12 million views. Regardless, even one impression is important enough to ensure our convictions are lined up with truth. I’m the first to be reminded of this.

First lesson learned: every conviction we have must be backed with Scripture. Second lesson: have humility in our shortcomings because they will come. These are hard moments, but they will likely be the times we learn the most. To bring the story full circle, the blogger I linked above with a far better synopsis of this video than mine and the guy in the video, Jefferson Bethke, exchanged emails this weekend. You can read here, but the humility exemplified is unmatched. Prayerfully, both these men will impact this world for Christ. Neat to see iron sharpening iron.

May we always be Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), receiving the Word with great eagerness and examining the Scriptures daily to see whether what we hear is true. May we be bold and passionate concerning the Gospel. May our humility reflect Christ, the greatest servant of all.

This is at least my prayer for myself,

Passion backed with truth