I never dreamed those families were actually happy…
It happened so many times…
My husband and I would be out in public, and we would notice a family that included a child whose special needs were apparent…and we would look at one another…
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Sometimes we wouldn’t say anything…but then other times we would…
One of us would say something like “Wow, I can not imagine what that would be like.” or “I can not even wrap my mind around how difficult that would be!” and then I would quietly pray, “Dear Lord, please don’t ever ask me walk that road.”…and I’m sure my husband was praying a similar prayer.
Well, if you’ve been following along with our story, you know that God has asked us to walk a path we would not have chosen. Just after the holidays, our daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
Now I don’t have to imagine what hearing a diagnosis like that is like…I know.
I don’t have to wonder how difficult it would be to struggle with the unsettling fear and paralyzing questions that go along with such a situation…I have felt all of those things…I have felt them deeply.
But do you know what else I know? Do you know what else I have felt? I have experienced first-hand the goodness of our Creator. I have felt in the most powerful way the fulfillment of His promise that He generously gives grace in our most difficult moments.
Yes, He has asked us to walk a road that I would have begged Him to spare us from ever having to face, but we are not walking it alone. We know He is with us…sometimes walking beside us…sometimes carrying us…and I can not tell you how comforting it is to know that He has actually already walked to the end of the road – He knows the whole story, yet He has lovingly turned around to be with us as we journey the road ourselves. How gracious of Him. How good of Him. What a generous heart He has to not leave us alone.
Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun*
From the moment we learned of our daughter’s diagnosis, we made a conscious decision that no matter how heartbroken we might feel at times, we would choose joy…we would keep our eyes open for opportunities to be grateful…we would seek for our most difficult moments to be used for the good of our family and the glory of the One who made us.
In this moment Heaven’s working
Everything for your good*
We love our sweet girl more than words can say. We wouldn’t change a thing about her. God lovingly knit her together with intentional design…and His plans are perfect.
So when you look at our family, I’m sure you may find yourself saying some of the same things we used to say…”I can’t imagine.”….or “God, please don’t ever ask me to walk that path!”….but may I ask that when you notice our family you would join us as we now look at things a bit differently – lifting up our situation with thanksgiving saying “Thank you, God, for your incredible handiwork!”…”Thank you, Father, for your good, good plans.” and “Thank you, Lord, for making beautiful things out of situations we would never choose to face.”
To those families…the ones we used to notice out in public: I used to look at you and feel badly about your situation…I used to look at you and wonder what your days were like…I used to look at you and feel scared…I never dreamed that it was possible for you to feel so much joy…and peace…and gratefulness…It was as if I was saying that the promises of God only reached so far, but oh how my heart has changed…oh, how I have tasted and seen that He is good.
Will our precious daughter face challenges that will be difficult for this mama’s heart to experience with her? Yes…but the same will happen as we parent our boys…
…and all three of them will know that their daddy and I are here…we are for them…and our greatest desire is that they will fall in love with Jesus…the One who will never fail them…the One who makes it possible for someone to experience joy…and peace…and gratefulness in spite of whatever circumstance they might face.
Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far*
Gosh, this made me cry, Elizabeth. Thank you for being so open and such a beautiful example.
I saw a link to your blog on my Facebook Feed. My son and his wife are parents to a five year old who is on the Autism Spectrum and I can really identify with your post. You are right, we do have to CHOOSE JOY! Thanks for that reminder this morning. And BTW, I had a first cousin who was Downs and he was very much loved in our family so I think that helped prepare me for the road we are now traveling on!
As a momma and family that has the special needs child….we are different, we live life differently, we feel differently, but at the end of the day, we love our children the same. Even more fiercely because we know how the world may view us and our child and we know God created her for His purpose and not ours. We can’t focus on the ignorance, the unkind, the what ifs, we always, always have to trust in His glory and His understanding. You can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t this way, if we were typical, because we are human, but God gives these little ones to who He sees fit. He also equips us for the road ahead. He will do this for you too.