Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Friend To The End!

"A friend loves you all the time, and a brother helps in time of trouble." (Proverbs 17:17, NCV)

"Some friends don't help, but a true friend is closer than your own family." (Proverbs 18:24, CEV)

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver,the other is gold." So went the song that my mother, the Girl Scout leader, taught 5 of her girls when we were young. We hardly had an idea at that age what this song even meant, rather enjoying its lilt as we shared each other's company. It all sounded and seemed so simple back then.

Fast forward to adulthood and friendship looks like something far more complicated! Having a child with a challenging diagnosis ends up being the true test of a friendship. A person sadly discovers how many acquaintances rather than true friends they have. People my husband and I thought were part of our closest circle suddenly distanced themselves or quickly changed the subject when it came to our baby's disorder. Even family members that practitioners expected to be helping us along our journey were suspiciously absent in our sorrows.

While it's still heartbreaking to reflect upon that time, it's also amazing to see how God filled the void in our lives. People who seemed to be only peripheral in our circle of friends suddenly drew closer and were there for us. Complete strangers brought meals and shared anonymous financial support. And new, wonderful, lasting friendships sprang up. God formed new community for us out of the shared experience of suffering. God's Word became more real than ever because we were living it on every level. And our sense of humor, adaptability and personal compassion transformed us into better people.

In my work with families who have a child with a special need I often see two extremes. On one end, there are people who have a solid support system with loving family and friends who encircle them, lifting them through the toughest of times. More often, I see people on the other end. They are left struggling, feeling abandoned, shocked, disappointed and resentful. Like I did, they get stuck in the mindset of how things are supposed to be. But with open eyes and a small amount of effort on their part, their loving Creator has waiting for them blessings they never could've imagined. There are people who speak the same language as they and who know what is needed to get through a given situation. This can often be a much better, far reaching support than the close family and friends!

Regardless of how it comes, we are mandated to reach out to extend that kind of compassion to others if we have been down the same road of difficulty. Because we know all of the heartache, confusion and stress of parenting a child with a special need, we must give back to those who are not as far along on the journey as we are. In doing so, we will be blessed with more unexpected friendships who end up being the surprise allies when we experience a difficulty. Now THAT'S solid gold!


  1. Barb -

    That is a beautiful post!

    And so, so true ...

    I'm going to put a link up to this on the ning if you don't mind ...


  2. Beautiful post. Simply beautiful. We were blessed with a nothing less than amazing support system with Parker, starting with my own children, my parents, and extended family and friends.

    I need to address more the idea of giving back to those who are struggling.

    Tammy and Parker
    @ParkerMama on Twitter

  3. Feel free, Juliette. We're here to help others!