Imagine this with me if you will: you’re traveling into an area you’ve never been before. The street signs are encrypted in abbreviations and symbols you’re unfamiliar with. You don’t have a GPS or a map. You have no idea where you are or where to go. What are you going to do? Well, okay, after you pull off the road and have a breakdown and cry, then what are you going to do? You’re probably going to ask one of the locals for directions or help.
If I happen to be one of those locals, I’d be honored if you asked me for help. That’s what I want to try to do in a series of articles entitled Every Family Has a Story. I want to share a little help, a little hope. Whether you’re part of a nuclear family, a single parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a teacher, a therapist or have no children in your life at all, you can benefit from the principles I’ll present in this series because they can apply to a variety of situations.
Our little family of five has seen a lot of ups and downs. We are tight-knit and interdependent. We also have a lot of other people we depend on. Probably sounds a lot like your family, right? Good! Because when we can connect with one another, we can help each other.
There is something about our family, however, that might be a little different than yours. Two of our three children have disabilities. Our oldest daughter is visually impaired and our youngest (our only son) has the same visual impairment as his oldest sister, as well as autism. We’ve traveled the road of specialists, tests, disappointments and triumphs for over 18 years now. On this journey we’ve been taught quite a bit – some of it fact, some observations, some opinion and some wisdom. We’ve learned the alphabet soup of medical acronyms, among other things. We’ve learned who our friends really are. We’ve learned so very much. I believe we are not on this path to just take it all in, however, but to share our experience with others who may benefit from hearing about it. In fact, I feel it’s my responsibility to share.
What do you typically do when you’re looking for a new phone service company, satellite or cable provider, an electrician, a mechanic, a dentist? You ask around for advice, for some help making decisions from others who have been in your shoes before, right? You seek out information you want to know. You look for a guide.
That’s also what you might be inclined to do if your child has just been given a diagnosis. You may feel you need a Guide.
This whole series won’t be faith-based, I promise, but this first one is. Since I’ve been a Christian for nearly 30 years and I’m married to a youth pastor, that’s the lens through which I see the world. But I’m aware that the entire world does not, so I will certainly keep that in mind. This particular portion, though, does shine a spotlight on faith.
Sometimes, especially in challenging times, we need some extra guidance, some direction. If your family includes someone with special needs or challenges of some kind, this guidance can be significant. You may need some peace. Assurance that whatever the outcome of your situation, you’re going to make it through. And be better for it. This is when people of faith call on God for all of those things – direction, resources, experts, and that “peace that passes all understanding.” You might pray on your own. You might ask others to intercede with or for you. Either way He hears. You might not get the answer you want right away – after all, His answers are, “yes,” “no,” and “wait.” But having a sense of relief after putting the matter into God’s all-knowing and loving hands can make a world of difference with how you deal with life’s issues.
Even if that has never before been your practice, I’ll bet you have a relative, friend, co-worker or neighbor who you might consider “religious.” If you do, I would also be willing to bet that the person you’re thinking of would be more than happy to lift your matter up in prayer. Most of us, when asked to pray for someone else’s burden, are humbled and honored to do so, because you’ve entrusted us with your fear and weakness. You’ve been vulnerable enough to be human with us, so we must whole-heartedly approach the Divine with/for you.
Once you feel you’ve made contact with your Guide, and have a more firm footing, you’ll be more ready to forge onward with confidence.
Please continue this journey with me, because we were never meant to walk alone.
*disclaimer: this first appeared as an article on the Good Men Project website in my series of 14 articles total.