Today's "Through His Lens" blog post is about seeing Through His Lens at family and how he led me to see how He was using a special member of my family as a tool to increase my faith.
This past summer was the first time we allowed our children to play outside unsupervised. There were plenty of other kids and parents taking turns being outside and we always left the windows open to keep an ear out for them. It was really nice to be able to do this for the first time in our parenting lives.
One day my two youngest came inside and said the new girl across the street never comes to join them. I peeked outside to see a down syndrome girl. Neither one of my two children noticed anything different except that she didn't play with them. I encouraged my children to invite her to play and she just might. She declined the invitation a few times, but my children kept asking every few days. Finally, one day she accepted their invitation. It was such a pleasure to see the other children playing with her.
I tried to explain to my little ones that this little girl is what many call 'special needs', but they didn't see how she was any different than them. I just encouraged them to show her more grace and be more patient with her than with any of the other children. They shrugged their shoulders, "okay, Mom." Then off they went to play some more.
Then one day as we were in the store on a very crowded Saturday, I began having an anxiety attack. People were bumping one another with shopping carts and I found myself not able to breathe well. I had to take a step back and close my eyes. I asked my daughter, Jessica to let me know when the aisle was clear. I breathed in slowly and deeply, with slow exhaling. I had to visualize my heart beat calming down and get myself focused before opening my eyes again. Maybe I'm 'special needs' too. Maybe we all are, in one way or another. We all have weaknesses that require extra patience and grace.
My Mom-in-Love commented to me one day about one of my own children being somewhat different. I had noticed the same things she brought to my attention, yet neither one of us could put our fingers on it. I continued to observe how she learned and interacted with other kids her age. I could tell that they sensed something as well, but they were polite and never said a word about it.
The last time my Mom-In-Love came through town, her and Dad-in-Love sat down with my husband and I to talk about it again. We knew it was time that we become aggressive with our research and really nail it down for all our sakes, but most importantly for her. I contacted a fellow blogger in confidence and described what we were noticing and she suggested I look up this one thing in particular.
As I sat here at my computer reading, I could feel the anxiety rushing over me. With each paragraph I read my heart beat faster and faster. My eyes began filling with tears and then I finally burst into sobs. Although these sobs were not sadness, but relief. I was relieved to discover what was different about our daughter. Every memory I had of her, as far back as kindergarten, began to make sense. The pieces were falling into place perfectly. She has Asperger's.
I carefully sought out other bloggers that I had heard had children with this same need. I read their blog articles about their experiences and it all made sense now. We furthered our research and finally discussed our discoveries with the In-Loves and my own parents. As I described this to them I could see the light go on in their minds too. They had the same reaction we had. It was all making perfect sense now. Only now we knew we needed to explain this to our daughter, but we wanted to be sensitive to her feelings and not cause any burden on her mind and heart. God gave us the perfect words. She received what we had to say, but I'm not quite sure just how much she's actually understanding the depths of this. Nonetheless, she now knows and we can begin our walk together as a family in support of the additional things we can do to help her succeed in life.
I think the toughest part is going to be the reaction some may give as this begins to become discussed. Maybe that's the hardest part for many parents, to accept and admit their child has a special need. But until we do, we limit ourselves and our children from getting the resources we need to support and assist the child, and one another. Maybe it's difficult to discuss because we fear the reaction we'll get. The comments that people who are uneducated about the needs, who try to insist they know what your child needs. Until you have either worked in a particular 'special needs' field or have a special needs child, you really have no place to give a 'know it all' comment or advice to the parent. Just offer a hug and let them know you're there for them if they need you. Then go online and start reading up on that particular need and be the friend your friend needs you to be.
In all of this I sought the Lord..."How can I see this through your lens? "He gently whispered into my heart, "Grace". Our daughter's special need is a tool to teach our whole family patience and grace. And so here we are, humbly receiving this journey from God as a gift, not a burden.
Do you have a special needs child?
Can you link me to any articles you have written abut your experiences?
If you've had difficulty with talking about this with others, what made it hard?
Have you written about how God has challenged you to see Through His Lens? I do hope you'll link up with me. I'd love to read what He has shown you. To read about this meme, go here.
The linky will be open until Tuesday, Nov 23rd.
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