When our girls are playing, my husband and I like to sometimes dream out loud about what we think they will do when they grow up.
She is going to be a dancer!
I wonder if she will be a nurse?
Or perhaps a preschool teacher?
On some days, when the girls are being really rowdy, you might here things like:
Perhaps she will be a bouncer?
Or maybe a powder puff football player!
But then there are the days when we sit through IEP meetings, watch kids bully our oldest on the playground because she isn’t like them, or get a call from a teacher about how she couldn’t keep her hands to herself for yet another day — and we wonder, “What will happen when she grows up?”
She is a beautiful on the inside and out, but she often has a hard time expressing the inner beauty we often see in the safety of home because the damage to her brain holds her back. As a result, the questions flood our minds:
Will she be employable?
Will she be able to live independently?
Will she be successful and happy?
Why did God allow her to have special needs?
What is her purpose?
One day, we sat in a special needs small group we attend and heard another parent ask the same questions. Then, God gave me the answer right then and there.
All this time, we had been looking at our child through the wrong lens — the world’s lens. Instead, we should have been looking at her through God’s lens. If we had done that, we would realize that her purpose is the exact same one as ours: to glorify God. She is just going to fulfill that purpose in a very different way.
Her success in the world may not look like much. She might not be a doctor or a lawyer, and she may just end up living with us for as long as we can foresee. She may not be at the top of her class or be the star of the play. But she can live her life for Christ and shine His glory in all He does through the way she treats others, her contagious laughter, and her heart for helping others around her.
Just the other day, she was able to be a witness for Christ through my Facebook page. She and her sister prayed wholeheartedly for a girl who had passed out at a Walk for Life we did. They did it on their own after watching their father and me pray. I recounted what they did on Facebook, and it touched so many people. I am certain this will not be the last story of my daughters’ growing faith on social media.
But what about the children who can’t talk? What about those who die within minutes of being born? What about those children who can’t even mentally process the idea of God?
Here is what I know. God created each of us and He has the ability to use all of us for His glory.
The child who died minutes after being born was a witness of the sacrifice of parents who carried through on a pregnancy and of their faith following his death. Others will watch them respond to his short life and see the beauty of God in the moments of them holding him, the breaths of life he was able to take, and in how they lean on the Lord following the tragedy of his death.
The children who cannot process the idea of God don’t need to be able to in order for God to shine through them. Their struggles will increase the need for their parents to draw deeply from the well of mercy and grace that God provides. Many of those parents will be able to lovingly support other families struggling, and through many of those relationships, they will be able to witness about the Lord’s provision. The children themselves have a strength none of us who aren’t in their shoes can understand. When we look at their struggles and wonder if we could live like them, we understand the only way they make it day to day is because of the Lord’s provision. Sometimes these amazing children will be the only ones who can bring joy to another’s day. You have to admit there is something so incredibly amazing about a child with special needs smiling or conquering a new milestone. My daughter has to be one of the most accepting of everyone, no matter who they are, whether they are walking, in a wheelchair, talking, or not. She has even befriended a boy in her school who seems so rough on the exterior but smiles as my daughter hugs him. No matter who someone is, she will accept them, and it warms my heart, and I know it warms the hearts of others.
Parents of children with special needs, I encourage you not to lose heart. Your children have a special purpose from the Lord. When we stop looking at success through a worldly lens, we begin to understand that success with God doesn’t take a special degree, a certain GPA, or a fancy job. It takes opening our lives for Him to use us and trusting in Him to work though the lives of our children in a way only He can to shine His glory to others.