Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Your Special Needs Child: Am I Missing Out?

Flip through my high school yearbook, and next to my name you'll find a list of 10-15 activities.   I was constantly running from one thing to the next.

I was obsessed.  Not obsessed with drama club, or vocal groups, National Honor Society, or sports.  No, no single activity captured my affections and heart.  Rather, I was obsessed, or terrified, rather, with the thought that I was missing out on something.  And so I did everything.

My days of marching band and softball are far behind me, but the fear of missing out on life still pervades my mind and thoughts.

And nothing presses on this fear so much as having a child with special needs.

When my child cannot perform even the most basic of life skills, like eating, one of the most predominant questions that rolls around in my mind is this:

"Am I missing out?"

Are others parents, other kids, getting to experience something better because their child doesn't wrestle with this?

Maybe you know what I mean.

Because if your child has limitations, then by default, you also have limitations.  For some, they are most severe.  But for all, the temptation exists to feel as if there's a part of life that you will never experience.  You watch other parents and what they're able to do with their kids, or without their kids, and you weep, knowing you may never experience that.

"Am I missing out?"

  • Am I missing out on a full night's sleep because my daughter vomits throughout the early morning hours?
  • Am I missing out on a "family bonding moment" because we never all sit down at the table together?
  • Did I miss out  on something when others held their precious newborns while I only watched mine through a sheet of glass?
  • Am I missing out on enjoying my second-born, because I'm constantly at the highchair with my first-born?

And the answer is...YES.  Yes, I am. 

And here's the hard part.  It's not imagined.  It's not feeling "victimized."  It's not a simple - "Be thankful for what you have, because others have it worse than you do"- kind of story.

The reality is -- You ARE missing out.  And probably on more than you even realize.

Talk about my biggest fear coming to life. 

And the temptation is always to look at the immediate --- seeing with our eyes only those things that we cannot do, and grieve as those who have no hope, as those who look at the very thing they're missing out on think that's all there is.  We forget there's more to this life.

It's like the small child who cries because his parents say he may not have a piece of candy before dinner, because it will ruin his appetite.  But my friend gets to have one!  He protests with sad desperation, because he is missing out.  And truth be told, he is right.  All the while, he has no idea that after dinner, the most delicious ice cream sundae awaits him.

He IS missing out.

But he is missing out on something small. Something incomparable.  Something so insignificant in comparison to what's to come, that the loss, held in the light of the gain, nearly disappears.  A paltry piece of candy when a brownie sundae awaits.

And the reality is, eating the candy first only lessens our enjoyment of the sundae later.

 If we could only get a glimpse into the "eternal glory" being prepared for us, the beautiful reward for faithful parenting, the "well done, my good and faithful servant" spoken over us by our King because of the tireless sacrifice towards your children, we would never think here and now that we are "missing out" on something.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal 
glory that far outweighs them all." 
1 Corinthians 4

When you miss out in this life, for the sake of loving your children, you are actually securing  -- achieving -- for yourself something better.

Do not envy what others may be able to do in this life.   When heaven comes and all is made right, your King, who has entrusted such a precious soul to you, will make up abundantly for all things lost on this earth.  Face with strength and perseverance that which God has called you to, and courageously "miss out" on those things which others enjoy.

The best is yet to come.

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