Joscelyn's Journey

A Beautiful Child's Journey Through Hemimegalencephaly


on June 13, 2012

Underdog:  noun \ˈən-dər-ˌdog\

1 : a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest
2 : a victim of injustice or persecution
It occurred to me last evening that my daughter is going to live the rest of her life as an “underdog”.

Naturally, those of us who know what our hemi super kids are capable of don’t see them this way, as “potential losers in any struggle or contest”. We know the resiliency of the human body and more importantly, of the human spirit and of indomitable will;  but for the rest of the world, (the world that I belonged to just a few weeks ago before Joscelyn’s diagnosis) a person with half of a brain would be expected to be severely limited in every way.

I mean, What Can You Do With Half a Brain?, right?

Joscelyn will, no doubt, as so many other hemi-kids are doing, spend the rest of her life defying those limited expectations of her, but they will exist nonetheless.

When my eldest son Marc (now 21) was growing up and had moved past the Veggie Tales stage and into more “adult” music, one of his favorite songs was a song called “Underdog” by the band Audio Adrenaline.
A preacher in the song quotes:
“Underdog. I wince every time I say the word, especially in connection with Jesus. Yet, as I read the birth story about Jesus, I cannot help but conclude that although the world may be tilted toward the rich and the powerful, God, Hallelujah, in His mercy, is tilted toward the underdog!”
Are God’s eyes tilted toward our little underdog?
Most assuredly.
“I’m in last place, if I place at all”, the song says, “but there’s hope for this underdog!”
And God’s eyes aren’t the only one tilted toward the underdog.
Social psychologists have studied a phenomenon known as the “Underdog Effect” for years. Apparently, it’s human nature for us to “root for the little guy”.  Allison et. al (2008) defined this effect as “the people’s tendency to support or root for an entity that is perceived as attempting to accomplish a difficult task and is not expected to succeed against an advantaged opponent”.*
You can see the “underdog effect” in politics and in sportsBusinesses brand themselves to capitalize on it. Hollywood blockbusters are filmed because of it.
Why do we love an underdog so much? Because we’ve all been underestimated at one time or another. We all know what it feels like to feel inadequate and weak. When we see someone at an extreme disadvantage as compared to the competition, we see ourselves.
If they can win, maybe, just maybe, so can we.
Last week, a beautiful and inspiring video circulated across the Internet. In it, a little boy named Matt with spastic cerebral palsy attempts to run a race during a school field day event. Matt’s classmates easily run the race and then go off to play while Matt struggles to finish. Soon, his coach begins to run alongside of him to encourage him, then a student joins in and then something amazing happens:
Class Cheers On Boy With Special Needs
Will there be times when Joscelyn suffers as the second definition of underdog above, as a victim of injustice or persecution? Perhaps.
More often, I’m hoping that, like Matt, she’ll benefit from the “underdog effect”.  She may be underestimated by many people at first; but we will make sure that she sees herself as free of any limitations other than the ones she chooses to impose upon herself.
Our little girl may never be the strongest or the fastest (then again, maybe she will!) but either way, she doesn’t have to rely on her own strength. Like Matt, she can borrow from the strength of others. 
She also has a source of strength that will never fail her.
“I’m in this race to win a prize”, Audio Adrenaline sings. “The odds against me. The world has plans for my demise, but what they don’t see, is that a winner is not judged by his small size but by the substitute he picks to run the race-
and mine’s already won.”
Let’s hear it for the underdog!



6 responses to “Underdog

  1. Sue Nickel says:

    You are amazing and yes -let’s root for the underdog! I can’t wait for Joscelyn to be old enough to realize she won the lottery of all times by getting you for a mom 🙂

  2. Steph says:

    Amazing, amazing post! This will be the most supported kiddo in Central Florida and beyond! Let’s go Joscelyn, let’s go!

  3. Jen says:

    Amen, Steph! She is going to be an inspiration to MANY!

  4. God knew what He was doing when He chose you to be the mommy of your beautiful little girl. She can’t help but be a winner in the race of her life, because God has picked her teammates already…and she has no need to fear… We used to watch a cartoon called “Underdog”, and his theme was, “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” God is blessing your little “underdog” with many precious gifts already…she will have everything she needs.

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