Monday, December 23, 2013

The Perfect Gift

 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change"- James 1:17 (ESV)

The frustration grew and the futility mounted with every year.

We would spend hours online and in stores searching for the perfect Christmas gifts for our son.

But what in the world do you get for a child who is both mentally and physically challenged? What gift seems right for a boy afflicted by cerebral palsy, autism, and seizures, who even though he is a year older every year, is still a toddler in so many ways?

Finding toys to engage him that he would actually play with seemed futile. And believe me, we tried everything. I turned our basement into an indoor carnival in our efforts.  I think I vicariously relived my own childhood by purchasing for him everything I imagined I would have wanted as a little boy.

Christmas is hard on special needs families in so many ways. One of the ways we don’t talk about much, but we despair over so often, is in finding appropriate gifts for our kids with profound special needs.

My son has watched the same” Wiggly Safari” video featuring The Wiggles and the late Steve Irwin every day before dinner for eleven years. Every time it is as if he is seeing it for the first time- he laughs, he cackles, he roars.

From him I have learned that true joy can be found in the simple things. True contentment can be found with just a few things. And happiness can be found in the little things.

But the one thing he really needs, the one thing he has to have- he has already received.

Every morning his mother gets him up, cleans him up, fixes his breakfast, and dresses him. Then she takes him to school before heading off to work herself. After work she cooks his meals, washes his clothes, changes his sheets, bathes him, and prepares him for bed.

Because of his needs and limitations, he requires 24/7 care for everything in his life. He is not capable of taking care of himself, and never will be.

She is his world. She is his lifeline. She is his everything.

She is also exhausted. She is weary. She is overwhelmed and teetering on the edge half the time.

There is too much to do and too little time and resources to do it all.

Sometimes she muffles her tears in her pillow at night and wonders where the strength will come to get up in the morning and do it all over again.

She doesn’t realize it, but she has given her child the perfect gift already. The only gift really that would work.

She has given herself.

She gets up every day and lays down her life for her child. Her dreams, her plans, her needs, and her life- she lays them down for his sake.

Because the only way he lives, is if she dies... to herself….every day.

Each and every one of you caring for an individual with special needs is doing the same thing.

And by doing so you are embodying the essence of Christmas, without realizing it.

The essence of Christmas is God giving us Himself.

God’s perfect gift to us was the gift of Himself in the form of Jesus.

No other gift was suitable. No other gift could give us what we needed, which was life.

God gave us Himself in the form of Jesus, who would give up His own life to save ours.

And you as a special needs parent give your life up in a different way, but for the same reason, to save your child.

Don’t beat yourself up trying to find the perfect gifts for your special needs children this Christmas.

You have already given it to them.

Every day.

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