Growing up I really can’t recall whether I ever thought of having kids someday. Things weren’t always happy around our home (or at school for that matter), so I probably put most of my energy into just making it through each day.
However like a lot of couples, after my husband and I had been married for awhile we decided to start a family.
But most people who start a family don’t think about having kids with special needs, do they? I know we sure didn’t. We just figured our kids would be healthy and strong like our friends’ kids. They’d grow up, play sports – and of course we’d take fun vacations to a Disney theme park!
Our first son Matthew was born healthy and strong. But when we had our twins prematurely almost 2 years later, all our preconceived plans flew out the window. Both babies had serious health problems, and little Bryan died before he was 3 months old.
Then when our other twin Jeffrey was nearing 3 years-old, he was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy – and the specialists gave us the earthshaking news that he’d never be able to walk, or use his limbs like you or I do.
Since the twins had been born our lives had been falling apart at the seams. Not only had we lost baby Bryan, but our 2 year-old son Matthew had died in his sleep only 5 months after Bryan had gone to be with Jesus.
God, why? What’s going on? Why us?
But another question that’s continued to pierce my heart: Why Jeffrey? Why did this have to happen to him? He doesn’t deserve this at all…
Thankfully during those years I had many friends with special needs children, which definitely saved my sanity on more than one occasion. When you’re raising “special” kids, you often feel so very alone.
Sometimes you end up finding yourself in a deep pit, thinking your child’s issues are because of all the bad decisions you’ve made in your life. You start beating yourself up. My husband and I have both struggled with that off and on through the years.
But most of all, you grieve. Maybe its because your child has to work so hard to accomplish simple tasks. Or that he cannot keep up with the other kids on the playground and is often left behind. Perhaps its because your precious child cannot speak, or she cannot process things mentally like other kids do.
But I think the thing that pierces special needs parent’s hearts the most is when other kids make fun of them…
Why, Lord – why?
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times during Jeffrey’s childhood years I’ve had to struggle to keep my composure when someone has said something against my son.
This is why we must stay buried in God’s Word, trusting Him even when things make no sense. Otherwise we can drive ourselves crazy.
Psalm 139:13-16 is hard to put our mind around sometimes because we just don’t get it. But we’re not God, are we? Here’s what it says:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
[NIV, emphasis mine]
1 Peter 5:7 tells us we’re to give all our worries and fears to God. We must trust Him even – and especially – when things don’t make sense.
These next few weeks I’m going to be sharing some of the struggles my husband Gary and I have gone through with our sweet son Jeffrey through the years. He’s now in his mid-20’s, and it’s still difficult to keep my eyes positioned firmly on my Heavenly Father sometimes. But I must – because I can’t make it without Him.