Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop. The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he had to lower them. Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then they stood beside him and supported his arms in the same position until sunset. That's how Joshua defeated the Amalekites. (Exodus 17:8-13, CEV)
Parenting a child with special needs can be an ebb and flow of trials. After we start out with the initial diagnosis, we typically get a treatment plan in place and move forward for a time. Eventually, we meet new battles like dealing with relatives who don't understand or making adjustments in treatment or working through things with the school. And so it goes up and down, back and forth over the years of raising these remarkable children.
With such trauma revisiting us time and again, it seems impossible to get through these fights without the help and encouragement of others. After all, it's not the short term, but the long, difficult haul that can be so utterly overwhelming. I've experienced this time and again, actually finding myself in multiple struggles recently.
When the teacher is sending me multiple e-mails per week about my daughter's inappropriate behaviors while I'm still waiting for the special ed team to schedule an IEP meeting, I can't endure alone. When my son's anxiety is through the roof to the point where he has to be restrained for infusions again after having made so much progress a few months back, I need encouragement and support. When the same daughter who's lacking social skills is so impulsive that her behaviors are putting that same boy with anxiety over the top but I have no room in my house to separate their sleeping quarters, I need others in the trenches with me. When there's not a week where I'm not running to doctors or therapists or hospitals while still trying to give these kids some semblance of a routine, I can't get through without the understanding of another.
Praise God, through the very public living out of our challenging lives, He has connected me with some Aarons & Hurs to help hold up my hands to win the ongoing firefight. Another mother I have connected with by phone lives half way across the country, but offers me the great comfort of knowing just what I'm going through. Her son has the same bleeding disorder as mine as well as some other challenges that run in our family. Just speaking the same language and having a compassionate ear on the other end of the line lifts me up. I told her how much my chats with her validate our lives merely by being allowed to vent without judgement or degradation.
Another group of women I know have no personal connection to special needs in their families, but their concern and prayers never cease to flow when I need them. They are a group of women who have been beset by some of life's hardest issues -- family addictions, financial ruin, terminal cancer, and caring for elderly parents. Their seasoned suffering have made them perfect partners in combat. They are laughing in life's skirmishes, and buttressing one another when tackling the inevitable tough issues. Being with them can't help but focus my vision exactly where it belongs.
So who are YOUR Aaron and Hur? Some of the qualities you should look for in such people:
- They should be lovers of God. Only one who is walking with the Lord can support your walk as a team player.
- They should be friends who listen, encourage and support without giving a judgemental, shoot-from-the-hip approach to dealing with your battles.
- They should support your marriage, not engaging in husband-bashing or other destructive habits.
- They should honor your privacy, never sharing the privacy of your battles with others outside your inner circle.
- They should have a willingness to help get you over the "humps" of life. Whether it be delivering a meal, watching the kids to give you a break or even making a phone call to help you out, small acts of selflessness are God's lifeline to you in crisis.
- They should be merciful, realizing that your schedule is always subject to change and that your days are sometimes filled with stress-induced forgetfulness.
- They should be forgiving, understanding that your life's circumstances sometimes create situations where you unintentionally hurt others by not reciprocating invitations, penning "thank you" notes or the like.