He has such a beautiful heart. Playful sometimes, mysterious, a non-stop motor, almost non-stop repetitive behaviors and a contagious laugh that makes it impossible for you to keep a straight face.
Your worn-out batteries just got recharged for another hour. It’s 9:30 a.m. He has more than enough special needs: Autism, intractable seizures, pervasive developmental delay, non-verbal and the list goes on. You can tell there is an intelligent fellow hidden underneath somewhere just wanting to pop out. Parts of him that seem trapped inside peek out in little ways. Sometimes staying hidden within is more safe.
There is this event whenever Dad sneezes. His tender son reaches for a box of Kleenex and puts it directly in Dad’s face. “Thank you son. I love your heart.” Or the time when Dad and son were in the bathroom. Dad goes into the bedroom and…big sneeze. (Won the best sneeze of the month award). A couple seconds later dad looks around and sees son handing him toilet paper-about eleven feet of toilet paper.
Life changes in a very big way when we have children. Raising children is a huge non-stop responsibility. Very difficult, very rewarding. When you discover your child has special needs it takes parenting to a whole different level. The range of emotions, thoughts, fears, what if’s, what do we do now, go from regular league to “what planet am I on?” in a heartbeat.
We ask ourselves, and God, some hard questions. When we don’t have answers or a plan, some of those questions and conclusions can take some of us down a lonely and heavy road of guilt, despair and blame. The ‘normal’ life is gone. Now there is a separated, different “normal”. When we don’t know how to let go or it seems to not let us go, we can feel trapped and it takes hope out of our sails.
For those who feel this way now, there is a fresh breeze, a gentle wind coming. It is a time to discover that not only is there hope; there is a greater purpose for good in our lives, that we could have never experienced or seen coming any other way. What may seem at first insurmountable and impossible becomes an incredible golden opportunity to discover how deep your love can grow for your child and how deep the Father’s love for you grows in you and, your family.
Speaking of family, it is heart breaking to know that many families with special needs children end up in divorce. This is true in general whether you are part of a special needs family or not. While the reasons will be many, every story is heart-breaking and the pain knows no depth. Yet God is more than able to rescue and restore hearts and rebuild lives. He greatly desires to do so.
How that looks will be different for each life. For fathers, God loves you dearly. You are busting it non-stop trying to be the best father you know how to be for your child. Your heart is there. Your child/children desperately need you. God makes a way. God is a fixer and has solutions. For those who may not know, there was a time when Jesus was a carpenter. He hasn’t stopped building. By God’s Spirit He is building up our lives today, and He is also preparing a place in Heaven for every believer.
How are we to be as fathers? Paul’s feelings toward those in the church of the Thessalonians were deeply affectionate as both a mother and a father.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:7,8 Paul writes, “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
In verses 11 and 12 of the same chapter Paul says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
For mothers, God loves you dearly. God loves all you super moms who have enough energy and love to power a big city if the city could catch up with you and hook you up to their electric grid.
Thank you super moms, one of whom is mom to the one who puts a Kleenex box in dad’s face when he sneezes. A thousand thank you’s to you all for doing the impossible. Thank you for never giving up on our tender precious children.
And so, a different journey begins. You planned to go down one road. It was fairly well mapped out. Now it seems you’re on a rocky path on the side of a wooded hill and you’re saying, ‘Where’s the map’? “Hey dad, look what I found!” “How did that get there? Thank you son!”
God has a way of planting a few God kisses on your cheek along your path. “Thank you Jesus!” God does have a way of letting you know: You are not alone. God is close to your side.
In some societies when a mother gives birth to a baby that is handicapped they do become outcasts in their community. It seems to be a sign to them that there is something very bad about that family.
In John 9:1,2 Jesus is walking along with His disciples and comes upon a man born blind. His disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Whose fault is it, Jesus, that this man isn’t like us”? The implication here is that when very bad things happen to someone “like this”, God is not happy with their lives in a big way.
But Jesus gives a different response here. In John 9:3 “Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Here was a man who was from birth, born blind. That is a very long time, on a day to day basis, to be dealing with so many challenges.
I’m sure these parents prayed more than a handful of times. Did they feel abandoned? We don’t know. But all along God was setting the table for one event for one special needs man. It would be an event that would bring healing to this person. It was always in God’s plan, in God’s time.
This man’s day to day mundane going through the “just trying to barely get by” motions would culminate in a point in time when his story with his handicap, would be told and read by millions of people over and over again over many centuries.
We have the completed Word of God for today, The Holy Bible. But there is another book currently being written by God: the story of our lives. He is setting a table for us!
The purpose for this man’s lifetime of blindness was to show the works of God being displayed in him. Jesus would heal him and restore his sight, and this man would give glory to God. Jesus also threw a wrench into some religious leaders’, ‘we’ve got our God act together’ wheels. Who really showed true blindness here? Who showed everyone who had the greater long-lasting blindness? The blind man could now see, and his eyes and heart saw and believed in Jesus. Some of the Pharisees could see but they were still blind. Who had the greater handicap?
What is good to know about this event from a long time ago is that this same Jesus walks along today, and He sees us. He stops by our side and He begins to work in our lives things that will bring strength to our hearts. He will give us fresh eyes so that we too, from the heart, give all glory to God for His goodness to us and our children.
Whatever the outcome, in this life or the next, God is building lives, bringing His healing into our situation, step by step. There is coming a day when He will restore all things to Himself and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. (Revelation 21:4,5).
It happens in little steps, in bigger steps, and in placing all of our cares, worries and trials at His feet and resting in His arms. (Matthew 11:28). It happens when we reach out to community, when we join like-minded people who seek God’s wisdom and look to God’s guidance. It is God who brings community together.
It is God who reveals and gives hope for our spiritual needs and our physical needs. It is God who reveals to the medical community new understanding of what is going on and new ways to help our children and ourselves.
Why doesn’t God just heal everyone? This father does not know the answer to that question. He can give testimony to experiencing more depth and compassion of love from the Heavenly Father for himself. That depth and compassion of love from God is being passed along and fed into the heart and soul of his treasured son.
In 1 Corinthians 12: 21-26 Paul gives us another very important perspective. Here we are reminded that every person in God’s eyes is very valuable. Paul writes:
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ and the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
Whether we are in a church setting or in society at large, we have an opportunity to allow God to do great things to bring about God’s glory in the lives of everyone of us, especially ourselves and those with special needs.
Where would God desire to lead us? A deeper understanding of His incredible love for each of us and a deeper acceptance of His great love for ourselves. God wants us to come to Him as we are. We all, in a very real way, have our own special needs. God sees those special needs we carry. He wants us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us. (Matthew 11:28-30) (1 Peter 5:7).
God desires to show us He loves and accepts each of us where we are at. God is moving in our lives. He has a plan, and it is a good and special plan for our lives. As we grow in His love and that acceptance He has for each of us, it lays a foundation in us where we begin instilling a beautiful sense of worth and purpose into the heart and spirit of our very special child or children.
We learn by God’s guiding hand that there are paths He is taking us on. There is a path that will help our loved ones do better. As we journey on those paths we become stronger.
Every special-needs person, those dealing with illnesses and disabilities and living with hardships we could never imagine, has become a doorway of discovery outwardly and inwardly. We discover our child, that special loved one, is who we are, very special and unique. We are what God really feels about us and wants us to believe about ourselves and our children; we all are a gift and a treasure.
Pray that we will have eyes to see Father, to drink from your well of living water Jesus, and by your Holy Spirit, guide our feet to move. Above all, to give you God, all the glory.