Monday, June 20, 2016

When You Don't Feel So Special

"Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NLT

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27a, NIV

"You must be very special."

"God knew you could handle it."

"He only gives special kids to special people."

If you’re the parent of a special needs kid, you’ve likely heard sentiments similar to these. They come from well-meaning folks who look upon you in wonder and amazement, marveling at how you manage to do everything you do and still keep your sanity.

They don’t know what it’s really like.

They don’t understand that most days you feel like you’re holding on to a shred of sanity by an ever thinning thread. They don’t realize how exhausting this life truly is. They see you grin and bear it and assume you must be a saint because how could anyone ever smile again?

They simply don’t know.

There’s a whole slew of things people say when they don’t understand what you’re really dealing with. It’s easy enough to shrug those people off as naive and clueless.

But the real struggle begins when we start to question ourselves. When we start to doubt if God even cares.

  • We hear that God is always good, that He has a plan for every life. 
  • We hear how He offers rest for the weary and hope for the hopeless. 
  • We hear that He is a God with healing in His wings, and we convince ourselves that if we are faithful enough and just believe a little harder, with a little more sincerity, surely He’ll bring victory in the form of a miracle.

And then another day comes and goes, another day of “being special” in the eyes of those around you.

You don’t feel so special.

So after a while you wish people would stop saying it to you. When they smile and tell you how amazing you are, you hold back the growl inside that wants to tear into them and give them all the gory details. Instead you utter a meek "Thank you," and move on.

You’re exhausted. You’re discouraged. You’re doubtful.

And — may I remind you here — you’re human.

  • You’re not meant to know all the answers, have all the solutions.

  • You’re not meant to be strong enough to handle it all.

  • You’re not designed to carry the weight of the whole world on your shoulders and smile through it all.

Sure, you’re special, but not for the reasons they think you are. Not because you possess some super human strength that enables you to "take it" more than the next person. Not because you simply get up every day and do what needs to be done in order to care for your loved ones.

The secret to the "special" they see

I don’t have all the answers. If I did, I would bottle them up for sale and become an overnight millionaire. I don’t know why disability happens, why it’s such a challenging part of a broken world, or why the people out there say the things they do.

But I do know this: 

God sees you. 

No matter what others say — well intentioned or not — He knows the condition of your heart and mind. He understands the struggle. He knows that you smile because the alternative is despair and He didn’t create you for despair. He knows when you're running on fumes, and when it’s His strength alone that gets the job done.

They may think you’re special because of what you do. They think you have some admirable quality that sets you apart from other humans, and so God gave you bigger difficulties to work through. They assume you’re always strong and eager and ready to face the day’s hurdles with a faith that never gives up. They see the smile but not so much the tears.

Here’s the secret they don’t know: 

You are special. Not because of what you do. But because of the one who holds you up.

Jesus is your super power. 

And never do human beings understand His power better than when they are truly weak. Knocked-to-the-knees weak.

They think you’re strong. You know the truth.

You are weak. 

Most days you can’t find the power to go on.

But when you are weak, He is strong.

And my dear fellow special needs parents, this means you are strong indeed.

God sees you. He knows the truth. And it’s He who holds you up.

You don't need to worry anymore about trying to live up to the "special" label. It's okay.

God's got this.


God, how we need you. We are so weak and weary, but You are the foundation we cling to. Lord, we smile to keep from crying. We nod and offer our thanks to those who compliment us, even though we feel like impostors. We know that our power comes not from ourselves, but only from You. We thank you that Your mercies are new every morning, that Your faithfulness sustains us even through seemingly impossible circumstances. Even when we feel like falling, you carry us with your everlasting arms, because all power belongs to You. Strengthen our faith. Help our unbelief. Set our feet upon a rock. Never let us go.

photo credit: The Outcast via photopin (license)

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