There’s a verse I love that sheds light on suffering and promises it won’t be wasted.
Romans 5:3-4 says: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.
I’m hesitant to use the word suffering to describe our special needs journey. Yes, sometimes the insurance denials, challenging behaviors and loneliness feel pretty hard, but that seems like small potatoes when there are people dying for their faith, living on the streets and fleeing from terrorists.
But I think suffering can be anything hard that draws us closer to the heart of Jesus.
Special needs parenting has been that for me.
It’s been in the midst of the challenges that God has chiseled away my selfishness and pride and replaced them with characteristics more reflective of His Son.
Special Needs parenting has taught me…
There’s nothing like motherhood to show you how much you lack in the patience department. Add special needs to the mix and you can feel like you’re failing miserably. While I’ve definitely become a more patient person over the past five years, there’s always room for improvement.
I waited years for my son to talk. I pray for patience when the ADHD makes getting dressed and getting out the door feel impossible. Somedays I feel like I’m herding a turtle.
I want to hurry up and fix things. I want to mark things off my list and be productive.
This journey has taught me that some things can’t be rushed.
Jackson is the poster child for perseverance.
He sits in speech therapy week after week working hard to find his voice. He’s been doing that since he was 18-months-old. There’s been a lot of frustration, but he’s never given up.
I persevere through the hard stuff too – the school meetings and the insurance denials. I persevere when the meltdowns make me want to give up.
We persevere because we know there’s a prize waiting at the end.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Faith is a a synonym for trust and boy has my faith grown since Jackson was placed in my arms.
I’ve had to trust God with many situations that were out of my control – Jackson’s speech being a big one!
I remember the early days of speech therapy, watching Jackson struggle to get a simple sound out. I would plead with God for him to talk. He finally did, but it took a few years.
During all the uncertainty, God would find ways to show me that I could trust His plan and that it was going to be better than my own.
He often used Habakkuk 2:3 to remind me to trust His plan for Jackson: If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
Without hope we’d have given up by now.
But because of Jesus, hope is always within reach.
Psalm 71:14 says, as for me I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
There is hope in Jackson’s smile.
There’s hope in his brown eyes that sparkle.
There’s hope every time he says something new and we find ourselves celebrating.
Hope is hearing his little boy humor and the giggles that follow.
Hope is hearing him say I love you.
Hope is there; even on the hardest days.