I’ve heard the word ‘special’ directed toward me as a mother for many years, since our first child was born with Down syndrome then later developed autism.
“God gives these special kids to special people like you because He’s knows you can handle it.”
When you ask expectant parents whether they are hoping for a boy or girl the most common answer is, “I don’t care as long as the baby is healthy and normal.”
I have never heard anyone say, “Oh either is fine, but I’m really hoping we have a special child!”
Other than the few amazing heroes who willingly adopt disabled children, no one really longs to have a disabled child. The irony that you are suddenly special if you get one has always puzzled me.
Regardless, I know people mean well and are trying to be kind and encouraging so I usually smile and move on with the conversation.
On especially stressful Jon days, when I’m not much in a “Yahoo!” frame of mind, I’ve thought of asking (but have never done so) those who tell me how special I am, “Truthfully now, would you feel special if your child was born with ____________ (fill in the blank with any disability)?”
Our son, Jonathan, displays frequent resistant behaviors that can be challenging and one morning I remember, was particularly difficult. All directives and attempts to get Jon to school on time were met with opposition and finally resulted in Jon locking himself in the bathroom and refusing to open the door.
I drove him to school everyday and by the time we arrived – late again – I was incredibly stressed and on the verge of tears.
David, our youngest child, and a friend who was visiting from another state, accompanied me. We had made plans to spend the day at one of Central Florida’s theme parks, so after Jon was finally delivered to his classroom, we headed to the nearest store to purchase a few items and visit the ATM.
I parked the car and the three of us were walking toward the store entrance when I saw him, a silver haired man wearing a bright orange vest and a big smile. He was holding a plastic container for the obvious purpose of taking donations.
I was still revved up from my morning encounter with Jon, taking deep breaths and forcing my mind to move on to calmer thoughts and the fun day ahead.
As I walked past the orange-vested man he thrust the container toward me and in a most kind and gentle voice asked, “Maam, would you like to donate to the disabled this morning?”
This unfortunate guy had no idea how poorly timed his inquiry was. He had no clue what I had just been through or what he was in for. I stopped mid-stride, turned and glared at him.
That simple question was the last straw, as the saying goes. All the pent up frustration still swirling around inside exploded out of me like hot lava from an erupting volcano.
Like some sort of lunatic, I yelled, “Oh sure! I’d just love to,” right in his face.
I ripped open my purse, clawed through my wallet, grabbed the first available paper bill I found and crammed five dollars inside that container so forcefully the surprised man almost dropped it on the sidewalk.
Then I loudly declared, “There you go sir, something for the disabled. Now what do you plan to do for their mothers?!” as I turned and stomped inside the store leaving him with his mouth hanging open and my free paper flower dangling from his fingers.
I didn’t feel very special that day. Still don’t for that matter. If I am entirely honest, I often feel very inadequate and way too tired for this job.
Jill Kelly, author and speaker, says sometimes God does give you more than you can handle so He can show Himself strong in and through you.
In my weakness, He is made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So I’ve figured something out in the midst of all this. God is trying to make me into something special and this child is part of the plan, stamped indelibly into the blueprint of my life.
This design wasn’t included in the life I had visualized when I looked ahead many years ago. And there are times even now when I look forward and struggle with an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty for my son’s future.
But this I am sure of, God can be trusted with every detail of life. If I continually lean into Him, He provides everything I need to press on.
Keeping my focus on Jesus as I learn, in my weakness, to reflect Him to a hurting world, is the ultimate goal. How I reach that goal is often a blend of His grace and my endurance.
I have come so far from the person I was at the beginning of this journey. I trust somewhere along the way or at least near the end of the road I will finally reach a resemblance of something special in God’s eyes.
Because in God’s kingdom, being His ‘special child’ is the highest compliment and honor!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plansfor good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT