Wednesday, June 14, 2017

To the Mom Who Feels Trapped

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
~ Ephesians 4:1-3, NIV ~

I felt so sad when I read the title of the article, "What it’s like being trapped in a special needs marriage." My immediate thought was that this would only perpetuate people's worst fears about raising a child with medical or cognitive issues. Isn't this why people are so pressured to abort if they suspect something is not-quite-typical during pregnancy?

Fortunately, Whitney Barthel did a lovely job of candidly showing the wax and wane of marriage while raising a challenged child. Rather than playing the blame game, as we humans are so inclined to do, Barthel exposes the mutual adaptation that needs to take place in our marriages. She admits that the husband may feel as equally trapped as the wife in this unexpected parenting journey.

It caused me to ponder what I might say to a younger me in the early days of raising a child with intense needs. Lord knows, there were plenty of times my frustration made me dream of giving up on my marriage. Despite my best efforts to share the load with my husband, the vast majority of medical strategy, insurance challenges, and school difficulties fell to me. I was glad to be the primary caregiver as I lived out my dream of motherhood, but I certainly would have loved to use a bathroom by myself or even feel taken care of myself in some sense. It was without a doubt sacrificial, and I continually had to wage a war against resentment.


The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
~ Psalm 34:15-18, NIV ~

Even so, I would encourage the mom who feels trapped to HANG IN THERE! God sees you even when you feel invisible to everyone else. He sees your selfless service to your family. He has so many promises to never abandon you in your circumstances. Not only does He count your humble love to your family as a jewel in your crown for eternity, He also sends you love and support for today. There are so many of us who have gone before you. We are here to support you and cheer you to the finish line. It is our privilege to recycle our trials and pain to share with you the wisdom we have gained over our years of motherhood. Offering that mutual support helps us find value in our own difficulties.

In addition, I would encourage you that while these days feel long, hard, and ugly, they do not last forever. I can remember seasons where our son seemed to have nothing but continual bleeding episodes where I couldn't leave the house, even to go to the grocery shopping. I can recall relentless years where it seemed like the battles and "on edge" feeling with our youngest daughter would never improve because of her sensory and behavioral difficulties. Those times in life seem like they will never, ever end. The long darkness of it can be absolutely overwhelming. And then one day, the suddenly improve. You may try a new medication as we did, or find a different therapy, or be blessed with a wonderful teacher that changes the trajectory of things. With our youngest daughter, one summer it just suddenly seemed that her brain matured, producing positive forward movement. 

Given the facts that God sees, support is there for you from those of us who have gone ahead of you on this journey, and that this awful trapped feeling will not last forever, I want to encourage you to adjust the way you treat your marriage. June 12th of 2017 marked 25 years of marriage for my husband and I. We have to hang on by our very fingernails to keep it together over these years. It is NOT what either of us expected when we said, "I do." Still, it is us against the world. We close ranks when the going gets tough. We are "Team Dittrich" in the ugliest of seasons. And in the most humble of ways, we have both come to realize that marriage wasn't meant to make us happy, but rather to make us holy. 

As always I say to my hubby, "We're lucky we have each other because no one would put up with either of us." 


"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
~ James 4:10, KJV ~

Keep your eyes fixed on the ultimate prize, Mama! Humble yourself and know that God has many an oasis of refreshment for you along the way. This is the toughest, most rewarding job with which you could ever be blessed. 

Pray with me...
Holy Spirit, I can only persevere with YOUR help! Fill me with the strength and joy to get through long, tough days. Remind me of the good things in my husband and my marriage. He is not perfect, but neither am I. Grow us together as we keep our eyes fixed on You.

~ Barb Dittrich

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