This summer our family embarked upon the grand adventure of multi-generational living. It began in May when our daughter, her husband, and their then 13-month-old son moved into our upstairs as they transition from starving graduate student status to starving artists status. The adventure is going well, everyone is adjusting, and my husband and I love sharing every day life with our grandson.
But sometimes, my joy is dimmed because I know too much.
What I know about special needs, disabilities, and childhood trauma gets in the way. When my grandson, now a robust 16 months old, running around on his tiptoes, a little voice inside me whispers, “That can be a symptom of autism.” When life gets very exciting and he flaps his chubby arms in delight, I think, “There’s another symptom.” When I compare his limited vocabulary to what my son and daughter, his mama, were saying at his age the voice whispers, “Perhaps he’ll be non-verbal.”
The whispers are a consequence of knowing too much.
Please understand. This little boy is extremely dexterous. His arm flapping doesn’t resemble the hand-flapping associated with autism. He speaks more clearly by the day, understands and follows verbal directions, loves interacting with people, and has a highly expressive face. He not only makes eye contact, but also craves it.
I worry anyway, because I know too much.
God has used what I have learned about and experience with special needs and disabilities to great good. He’s empowered me to write books to encourage and equip parents, to provide special needs ministry training, to facilitate support groups, and more. But sometimes that same knowledge and experience results in thought patterns that lead to excessive and obsessive worry that steals my joy. The kind of worrying that leads to doubt, to despair, and to sin. The kind of thinking familiar to far too many in the special needs and disabilities community. Maybe you’re familiar with it, too.
Because you know too much.
You know the worst that can happen. It has happened and is happening in your family. To your child. But your knowledge doesn’t have to lead you down the destructive, joy-sucking path of despair. When I’m tempted to use the knowledge God’s provided to wander down the wrong path, He reminds me of these four ways to reclaim joy.
Read Jolene’s entire post on Key Ministry for Families …
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