It’s 6:03 a.m., and I’m awakened by the brightness of the kitchen light flooding our bedroom. In the kitchen, I find my son with a screwdriver in hand unhinging one of our cabinet doors. Yesterday I awoke to the sound of our home security alarm going off (again) because he wanted to play outside and greet the rising sun.
Before having my sweet boy, I would’ve assumed that special needs children need a little extra love and care. I would’ve assumed they have some limitations and disabilities, but I was also quite certain these kiddos have the biggest hearts on the planet and grace you with their sweet smiles all day long.
No one told me about the anxiety, phobias, and uncontrollable meltdowns at the drop of a hat. Nor was I aware that high-pitched shrieking and screaming at the top of your lungs was a fun way to communicate throughout the day. No one mentioned that it was humanly possible to top the speed and endurance of the Energizer Bunny with its throttle stuck wide open.
And no one told me how deeply these precious children hurt or how frequently they’re consumed with anger as they attempt to process a world that simply doesn’t make sense.
It’s safe to say I was thoroughly unprepared for the trials of special needs parenting. The loneliness, judgment, helplessness, and heartache were never part of the plan. I have struggled more on this journey than I ever thought possible, and yet, these very trials have drawn me closer to the heart of my Savior.
Sweet friend, as the built-up tears slowly trickle down your face for the third time today, it can be tempting to believe the lie that God has abandoned your family. But the truth is that you are fully known and deeply loved by the Creator of the universe.
We are living in a broken world and were never promised that life would be full of sweet-smelling roses and sunshine. If you think about it, we just so happened to have been born in the freest country at the freest time in history, which unfortunately often creates a sense of entitlement in our minds if we’re honest. We imagine that all our efforts will lead us to the “American Dream” and allow bitterness to creep in when life gives us lemons in its place.
Do you realize that for thousands of years, men and women all over the world have known nothing but struggles? These immense struggles can produce a whole lot of good fruit if we’re humble enough to allow them to. Suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which brings about hope (Romans 3:5-5).
These trials can strengthen our faith, families, and marriages and create a rock-solid bond between our children. They can plant seeds of empathy within our hearts for a hurting world around us. They can help us embrace the little things in life and celebrate them as the big victories they truly are.
They can force us to lean upon our gracious God and rest in His amazing grace when we’ve got nothing left to give. And they can turn our thoughts toward a glorious eternity spent in the presence of the very One who endured it all, in our place, to offer us a precious gift of grace.
Friend, God has not abandoned you. He wants to use the trials of your sweet child for the good of your family and His glory if you are willing to let Him. Rest assured the difficulties will still come, but with them are tiny opportunities to grow. May we cling to the joy of knowing our Savior and learn to simply rest in Him.