Go with the strength you have …
It’s happening again …
That horrible feeling that comes and goes as a special needs parent.
Am I failing my kids? Should I be doing more? Could someone else parent my child better?
I’m starting to feel like a failure.
I just don’t think I have enough strength for this parenting gig today.
And then I remember
I am reminded of a lesson God taught me through a friend who was willing to step into the arena of confusion, grief, and fear I found myself thrown into seven years ago after the birth of my daughter with Down syndrome.
“Can I read something that encourages me, Gillian?” My friend Jim asked shyly while visiting me in the hospital.
“Do you remember that story about Gideon from Judges in the Old Testament? God told Gideon to lead a war and obtain victory over the Midianites. Gideon was grievously un-equipped. He was the least powerful in his family. He had the weakest clan. He could not understand why God was telling him to rescue Israel when there were so many others who could do a better job.”
Jim opened his Bible on his lap to the book marked page and started to read, slowly:
“Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied. “If the Lord is with us, why all this has happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say? “The Lord brought us up out of Egypt? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “GO WITH THE STRENGTH YOU HAVE AND RESCUE ISRAEL FROM THE MIDIANITES. I AM SENDING YOU!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied. “How can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” –Judges 6:12-16
Jim finished the story, closed the book on his lap, and took off his reading glasses.
“Gillian, I know it wasn’t part of your plan to have a child with special needs. And I know you are grieving. But I want to encourage you to go with the strength you have today. It’s enough” he whispered, looking down at his shoes.
Why did God give us a child with special needs? Is my strength really enough?
How I feel today
The thought of raising a kid with special needs, most days, still terrifies me. Like Gideon, I consider myself the least of my clan. I am not a super mom. I lack patience. I can be selfish and lazy. I love my children, but find myself a lot of times falling short of what I want to be as a mother.
I can think of ten women I admire as mothers. Most of the time, I am not one of them.
“Go with the strength you have,” God told Gideon.
Lord, am I enough for this task? Am I enough for my kids?
The honest answer is no.
What parent is enough for her kids?
But we love, and we try.
Richard Foster said to pray is to change. So I bow my head and ask God for help because I need it, again, and because that’s really all he wants me to do anyway.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Go with the strength you have …