Okay, here I go. I am about to offend a whole lot of people. I just have to say I’m sorry upfront and I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m headed into sacred territory. Coping territory. The place where good, caring people go to harvest sentiments to “make you feel better” about having a child that has some sort of special need.
One of the bloggy mommies that I read said it first. She just came out there bold and brassy and said it… “I despise the Holland poem.” GASP. You know the one… raising a special needs child is like getting on a plane expecting to go to Italy but you arrive in Holland, but Holland ain’t all that bad, it’s just different.
Well, I will see your Welcome to Holland poem, fellow blogger, and raise you the God Chooses Mom for Disabled Child article my Erma Bombeck. This is the one where God sees a really awesome woman with a lot of great qualities and says, “Let’s ‘bless’ her with a child who has a disability. It will teach her something amazing through it and she will envied and will be a saint herself because of it.” Hmmm. Isn’t that nice of God?
Next, another prose devoted to the character of our Heavenly Father: The God Said… poem. It my own words, I would say this is the series of the most frustrating answers to prayer I have ever seen. It’s like, “God will you… NO! If you would just… NO! I really need… NO! Could you please… NO!” Okay, glad I asked, I think.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some nuggets of truth in all of these sentiments and well-crafted poems. But, I might be going out on a limb to say that it makes people who aren’t going through the reality of raising a special needs kid feel better reading these than those who are. So, there is a rush to forward these links to your friend or family member to brighten their day. I’m inviting pushback here if I’m out of line. Maybe these do make you feel better.
Personally, I’m so thankful that I encountered these links though, along with some of the things that I have heard from very nice, well-meaning people in past two years. Things like: “God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave you Josiah as he is, because he knew you would be strong.” “You’re so creative, so God gave you a child with autism because he knew you would work really hard to play with him.” “Just think about what all God is going to teach you through this.” I found myself getting angry with God with each new phrase. How could he do this? If I was so good, and tried so hard to live for him, THIS was my reward? Not cool.
But, wrestling with all of this sent me on the most prized spiritual journey of my life. On December 12, 2008, I wrote this in my journal:
Here I am, Lord. I have some questions and I look to you for answers. I want to put aside any of my preconceived notions, my theology, religion, or advice from others, and I want to seek You for the answers. Straight up, what does your Word say?
> What do You say about healing–physical healing? Is it still for today?
> Do You allow bad things to happen to us to teach us a lesson?
> Do You bring sickness and disease to some people’s lives so You can use them for a greater purpose?
> What are the lies we tell ourselves about who You are and the place You have in our affairs?
> Do You withhold healing and help based on our level of faith and what we do?
> What are the blessings I’m entitled to as Your child?
> What does it take to get a miracle? Show me. I need healing for my precious son’s mind and body. How will it come?
I have devoted these past 8 months to studying God’s Word and listening to different sermons online addressing these questions. Scripture after scripture has re-energized my prayers, and has made me fall in love with Jesus all over again. Have I learned to be more patient? Sure. Have I learned a lot through suffering? Yep. Do I love my son and celebrate him more because of it? Certainly. Mostly, I’ve learned about God’s true character. I’ve been challenged not to put God in a box, and not to attribute things to him that are not in his nature. He is a good God, and he keeps prodding me on to hope, faith, and one day… victory.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Either God’s Word is true, or he is a liar. He makes bold claims. “I am the Lord… I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner so no one can understand what I mean. And I did not tell the people… to ask me for something that I did not plan to give. I, the Lord, speak only what is true and right” (Is. 45:19).
What does he promise you? What does he plan to give you? Have you ever looked to see? Grabbing a nice Scripture verse once in a while for comfort is kind of like reading those poems I referenced earlier. It will give a short-term burst of consolation. But, God is not about simply consoling us. He is about saving, transforming, delivering, growing, directing, relating with, and loving, loving, loving us in the long-run. I challenge you to engage in your own journey to discover what he’s really like. I believe it will lead you into territory that looks more like hoping than coping.