Read below for a guest post from Lisa Bonnema.
Today was one of those days I feel like God gave our family a secret. A secret that is available to anyone who wants to pay attention, but a secret that we get to live and breathe and feel in the depths of our souls.
Today, I sat in an audience and watched my baby dance.
On a stage.
In all of God’s glory.
The baby I cried for and grieved over and prayed into this world. The baby I feared would be cheated out of this life.
Yet here she is, dancing.
Dancing with costumes and lights and applause and pink roses. Dancing with family and strangers and special friends right along side her, cheering her on.
My girl is not being cheated. She is blessed, and even more so, she is blessing.
I have noticed a trend in the special needs world lately to “prove” to everyone else that our lives are just like theirs. That our children and our homes are no different because somehow “sameness” is a goal we are trying to achieve to gain acceptance for our children.
Well, I’m sorry. I’m not one of those people. Days like today remind me that those of us with children with special needs do not live the same lives that everyone else does. And I’m not talking about the doctor appointments, the life-threatening worries, or the therapies. I’m not talking about the sibling challenges, the IEPs, or the countless surgeries. I’m not talking about group homes or socialization or marriage stress.
I’m talking about a secret we’ve been given. A secret we can’t quite wrap our minds around, but one that we get to hold on to and enjoy every so often.
When I see my daughter — a child they told me might never walk or live a fulfilling life — when I see her up on a stage dancing her sweet heart out as best as she can, I feel like God thins the veil just a little and I get a small taste of what this life is really all about.
In these moments, I see that this life isn’t about perfection or what you can or can’t do. It’s not worrying about standards or judgment or the world’s expectations. It’s about embracing and enjoying what you have RIGHT NOW.
It’s celebrating life simply because you are alive.
And in these amazing moments, I don’t just see this Truth. I get to live it.
I would be lying if I said that our “new normal” feels normal at all. It just doesn’t. Life with a child with special needs is richer, deeper, fuller. It is physically exhausting and emotionally draining, but it is anything but the same. I am anything but the same.
Dare I say… in some ways, it is better. Or, rather, I am better.
I see better. I love better. I live better.
Little hands brushing teeth and opening refrigerator doors are no longer mundane tasks, but evidence that hard work, faith, and perseverance can make the impossible possible.
Dirty shoe soles and sand grains stuck in leg braces are no longer annoyances, but reminders that mess is an important part of enjoying life.
And awkward hops and banging metal wheels across a stage floor are no longer interruptions, but a shining testament of what God can do through every life He places on this earth.
We are all valuable in His eyes — every single one of us.
As I sat there in the audience today, I swear I saw God beaming right out of my little girl. His work — His victory — was right there in front of my eyes, and I got to experience it in a way I could never really put into words, which only proves to me that it is His work.
My daughter, she is special. Our life, it is special. Not because of our “needs,” but because we are learning that the secret to this life is not about wanting something else or something more. It’s realizing that what God has given you is more than enough — and then letting it shine for the whole world to see.
Lisa Bonnema believes in the power of Jesus, good coffee, and the written word. She has been a professional journalist and editor for the last 14 years, but her passion is sharing her faith through her blog and all things social media. She considers herself “a mom in progress” and is forever learning what it means to live freely through her three daughters, Emma, Kendall, and Brooklyn. She has been married to her best friend, Jeff, for 13 years and is forever grateful that he has the stamina to endure her relentless need to overanalyze everything. On days when she’s feeling inspired (or has too much coffee), she blogs about faith, parenting, and Spina Bifida over at Heaven Sent.