Little GIANT

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (II Corinthians 12:9) "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." (Mark 10:15)

Gene Seanor was a giant of a man! Without any question, he was one of the biggest men I have ever known. Yet Gene Seanor was a dwarf.

Not long after our third child, Lucy, was born, she developed a wheezing in her breathing. When it persisted, Belle took her to the pediatrician, who reassured her that Lucy's lungs were clear and that there was nothing to be concerned about. We were both very much relieved. However, six weeks and several visits later, there still was no sign of improvement, so we went together to the doctor's office to find out exactly what the trouble was. When he was unable to give us even an idea of what might be causing the wheezing, we became very worried.

One of Belle's close friends had become disenchanted with the same pediatric group that we were using, and had changed to a pediatrician in the neighboring town whose name was Dr. Eugene Seanor. She made an appointment to see him the next day. As she walked into his office, even before she had sat down, he asked her if Lucy had any allergies, because he thought her eyes looked allergic. Belle knew of none, but he told her to take Lucy off wheat pablum and see if that made any difference. The wheeze was gone in 48 hours, and so was our former pediatrician.

Gene was not a midget, he was a dwarf, which means that he was not only abnormally small, but he was also deformed, in that his arms were too short even to reach into his pants pockets. Consequently, whenever he made a house call (which was almost unheard of, but which he insisted on doing if a child was really sick), he would arrive in his little red Volkswagon "bug" with his jacket pockets bulging with everything from his glasses to his stethoscope. One such visit stands out in my memory.

One of our children (it happened to be Lucy again) had a high temperature, and Gene came to check on her. After he had finished his examination, Belle and I were mortified to here Lucy suddenly say, "Dr. Seanor, how come you are so small?" But to this remarkable man, that was a perfectly natural question having a perfectly natural answer. Without a moment's pause, and these are close to his exact words, he answered, "Honey, God made me that way, so that I could be just like you kids." And, indeed, in the best sense of the word, he was more "child-like" in his simple openness, transparency, and lack of self consciousness, than anyone I have ever met.

With four children growing up, inevitably there were crises in our family, a few of which were just "the last straw" for Belle. On these few desperate occasions, which usually involved problems with our kids, but occasionally with me, she felt that Gene was the one person on whom she could call for help; and he always had the time, the understanding, and the right words to calm her. I suspect that this unique aspect of his practice, for which there never was any charge, was routine with him, and that many other Mothers besides Belle availed themselves of it.

When our son, David. Was 11 or 12 years old, he was having some of the difficulties that young boys that age typically have, and we didn't really know how to help him. Belle mentioned it one day to Gene, and he immediately volunteered, "Why don't you bring him in to have a chat with me?" Belle waited outside in the car for half an hour while they talked. We never knew what they talked about, but pretty soon the problems cleared up. After that, David would periodically drop in on Gene for one of their visits, to which I believe they both looked forward.

Gene touched the hearts and influenced the lives of everyone in our family, but I think particularly of David, who later himself became a doctor, largely because of his respect and admiration for this unusual man. When David got married, one of the few people that he wrote personally to invite to the wedding was Gene Seanor. The reply came from his wife, who explained that Gene, who was in his early fifties, actually was well into old age for a dwarf, and that he had died on the golf course several weeks before.

As I look back over the years that I knew Gene, there was one quality about him that particularly distinguished him from most of the rest of us. Somehow, he was able to turn his handicap to his advantage, and, instead of rebelling against it, to learn from it the invaluable lesson of accepting himself as he was. Consequently, he was not saddled with the tremendous burden that many of us bear throughout our lives, of trying to be something that we aren't. Having accepted himself, he did not have to prove anything to himself or to anyone else, and he was therefore free just to be himself.

Equally important, that same acceptance of himself and of his circumstances freed him from the black pits of self pity, anger, jealousy, and negativity, that too often engulf us in darkness and sap the sweetness and joy out of life. Isn't it profound that in his crippling deformity, he found wholeness, and in his weakness, strength? As he said, God made him small so that he could be like the kids he loved. He was indeed one of God's giants.

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Word: My dear child, you have always wanted to be tall, but you are not, for that is not the way I formed you. I did want you to be tall, but as you are. You have come to accept this, for it is obvious that only a fool would waste time trying to make himself tall, or worrying because he is not. Why, then, do you try so hard in other ways to be what you are not, or not to be what you are, for not only is this foolhardy and deceptive, but it is the source of much of your frustration and unhappiness. Furthermore, self-acceptance is the key to the deep root of anger that has plagued you throughout your life, and of which you so want to be free. Be encouraged, my son, for you shall have what you desire when you desire it with an all your heart.

Stephen B. Elmer

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