I have been blessed by God, abundantly. If I started counting the blessings, it would take forever, literally, for every breath that I breathe is a gift from HIM. However, today I want to discuss one of the biggest gifts He has given me. The gift of a differently-abled child.
No One is a Mistake
Each child has come into this world, made in God’s image, and for a purpose. I first took my son for a diagnosis at the age of seven. I was asked to wait while the consultant came to a decision about whether or not my child had autism. It was a nervous time for my husband and me, but as I waited God reminded me that no one is a mistake. The consultant may have given the diagnosis then, but God made the diagnosis before my child was born, and then He chose us as parents. My child is not a mistake. Not ours, not his, not anyone’s.
“Do unto others what you would have them do to you”
My child does not understand the argument, “I do this because I am your parent.” If I spank him in anger, he understands that it is OK to spank in anger. If I go to bed late, he understands it is ok to go to bed late. We can apply no rules or principles to him that we do not follow ourselves, and he is very vocal about all discrepancies in our walk and talk. So we have to live and practice what we say. What a wonderful provision of the Lord to make sure that we do not live our lives any differently from what we preach.
God expects us to practice truth in our lives
We say it is important to speak the truth, and yet we speak small untruths in the name of politeness. We call it politeness, but truly they are lies. Our son NEVER lies. He is not capable of it, and this gets him into trouble all the time. If he does something wrong he admits to it even when he will get into trouble. How often do we ‘bend the truth’ to save ourselves from embarrassment, to ‘encourage’ someone, to avoid something or someone? Our son is a reminder to us always of God’s desire for truth.
We live in a world where ‘doing’ is more important than ‘being’
We as Christians are people who have received salvation, not because of what we do, but because of the gift of Jesus who died for us. It is a FREE gift. We cannot do ANYTHING to earn it. However, so many times in our lives, even within our churches, we judge on the basis of action. As a result the person who most needs grace is perhaps given the maximum condemnation. We share testimonies when the battles are won, not when we are still in the midst of it and need the most prayer and support. My child is the way he is. I must love him the way he is just as Christ loves me the way I am. Nothing my child does can break my relationship with him, even though he may get into serious trouble with me. Same as the way God relates to me. I am HIS child, and nothing can change that. I may get into trouble, He may rebuke me, discipline me, but I am still HIS child. We need to accept the fact that more important in the sight of God is not what we do, but who we are – ‘His children and heirs.’
My child is not afraid to question me. He does not know fear, and so does not realize that some of his questions may upset me. As much as I try not to, I do lose my temper sometimes. But through Him, God has taught me patience. Patience that I never knew I had, and that I never believed I could have.
Grace for ourselves and others
As I sit with some parents, all of whom have differently-abled children, we realize we sometimes live in a world of our own. A world few people understand, and yet most people feel free to comment upon. We quickly learn to silently accept that all the well-meaning comments are exactly that, well-meaning, because they do not understand. In our world, each small step is a miracle from God. A 23-year-old learning to shave is a cause for celebration. A 14-year-old child writing 5 lines on ‘Myself’ is a cause to party. We learn to always encourage, to lift up, to affirm, to uphold each other. For us breaks are infrequent, and even in our sleep we are working with our child. Too often siblings bear the brunt of being overlooked due to having a sibling who has special needs. And spouses never have time alone with each other because the needs of the child take precedence at all times.
All this my child has brought into my life. My husband and I never would have taken this journey into grace and truth had we not been blessed with a differently-abled child. Because of him, I can practice the acceptance of believing the best in everyone, and loving in a way that ‘always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres’. Yes my child has taught me to love in the way the Bible tells me to do.
Thank you, my son, for teaching me all this, and THANK YOU, Jesus, for bringing this child into my life, and for being with me every step of the way.