Note: I’ll speak in this post from the perspective of a mother of a child with multiple medical and developmental special needs. This perspective is not meant to be all-encompassing. You may feel the same way about some aspects and very different about others. My hope is that we can find common, encouraging ground together within faith and special needs, or that this post may help increase empathy and understanding and hope through a look into a world that may not be your own.
When you parent a child with special needs (or have special needs yourself), you might be used to having to think of many tiny parts that affect the whole of your child’s health and wellness or breaking down scenarios ahead of time for a successful day.
Can we go to this new friend’s house? We can’t if they smoke or if there’s a wood-burning fireplace in use.
What do I need to bring to help reduce noise and sensory irritation for my child at this function?
My child has multiple food allergies and we’ll be gone x amount of time, and so we need to pack this, this, and this for nutrition.
When my husband and I make a new choice for our son (whether it’s about schooling, about food, about medications, about sensory stuff, or just about how many activities in an afternoon), we are rarely flippant. Even if we only have five minutes to decide something, we put significant thought and consideration to how to help him both grow independently as well as be in safe, healthy environment.
Basically, parents of children with special needs have to question or consider all. the. things.
It can be draining. Confusing. Exhausting.
But, these situations and the constant state of alert we have to be in has also, at times, heightened our awareness to consider all the ways God is present.
God is in my boy’s smile, even while he sits in a hospital.
He is in the hearts of community members who act as His hands and feet and offer help or even just genuine understanding and consistent prayer.
He is in the wisdom and hands of trustworthy doctors who care about our son as a person, not just a medical challenge.
He is in the therapists we were matched with to become guides for my son and sources of support, encouragement, and friendship for me.
He is in the perseverance and loving heart I see in my son daily.
He walks with us in our path of discovering which ‘friends’ might not be true friends, and deepening relationships of those who willingly walk through life with us.
He is in the refining we constantly undergo to grow more, learn more, love more. (God shows us that we don’t change the special needs, the special needs change us.)
God is there in the storm and the calm, the hard and the good — every moment, whether we feel Him or not, see Him or not.
I asked my husband how he would answer the question, “Where is God in special needs?”
His response? “There.”
God is there, and here, too.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
Please share your experience of God’s presence in special needs in the comments below.
Other articles of interest:
- Some of the points in this article at Not Alone offer good comments on the effects of special needs community.
- And this post on the fear of the future special needs parents often feel.
- And for fun: 15 superpowers of special needs moms (this could go for dads, too!)