“Should we let him go out there?” “Maybe we should have him wait in the green room.” This is the conversation my wife and I are having minutes before we were supposed to go out on a morning talk show with our son Connor here in Houston.
The morning show “Great Day Houston” had asked us to come and share about Champion’s Club Developmental Centers for those with special needs and they wanted us to share as a family. Our first thought was “I’m not sure if that would be a good idea. How he would respond could go in any direction.” But, we agreed that if he struggled one of us could just stay in the green room with him while the other one goes out. That was safe. That felt good. So we said yes with conditions.
Connor looked so handsome the day of the program. Even though his mom dressed him up in this cool shirt, sweater, nice pants and shoes, from the time he gets them on he was calculating when the moment was that he could tear this burden called “clothing” off when we were not looking. Connor’s preference around the house or anywhere else for that matter would be athletic undies and a t-shirt for the rest of the day. Of course we don’t let him do that, but that’s his preference. My wife says he gets that from me.
As we were waiting in the green room to go out, those questions that all of us special needs parents get at one time or another started flooding our thought process. “What if he has an episode in front of all those people?” “If he starts stemming I don’t want them to stare at our son like he’s a freak show.” “Will they accept him for who he is?” “We don’t want our child to be pitied, we want our child to be an valued.”
We’ve all at one time or another experienced rejection as a special needs parent. We know what it’s like to watch people just not know how to respond in a situation with a special needs person. It can be awkward.
I remember one time watching through the window of my house as the neighborhood kids were playing ball outside in our cul-de-sac. My son heard them playing and before I could stop him he opened the door ran outside and begin jumping up and down, running around the kids with pure joy and excitement just to be out there with them. I was hoping they would just go on playing but all of a sudden the ball dropped to the ground and everyone stopped and stared. You know that stare like when a contestant would try out on American Idol who couldn’t sing well and you know they were put on there so they could catch the judges reaction of “what is this?”…that kind of stare. It wasn’t the kids fault, they weren’t use to that. They weren’t use to Connor because we protected Connor from experiences like that.
I’m going to be real vulnerable and honest right here. There were times I think in the past that we protected Connor not just because he would have been embarrassed but because we might have been embarrassed. I sometimes wonder how a few times early on that my wife & I have not let Connor’s light shine because we were afraid it would have been to hard and embarrassing. In this journey we can get use to the limitations of our child’s challenges. It’s easier to shut ourselves off then to face the challenge of leaving the house. For some parents their situation may be so difficult that at the time it’s just not an option.
Yet for others, I wonder if we would have not let fear of what might happen, allow us to experience the joy of what could happen.
Our children are lights of hope. They can touch people like no one else can. Even with limitations they can still do great things. There was a song we used to sing in children’s church that said, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine(go ahead and sing) I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” Then the verse says, ‘Hide it under a bushel…NO! I’m going to let it shine. This is what the enemy would love for us to do with our kids. He wants us to hide them rather than let their light shine.
The enemy will put thoughts of fear that will say to you “when things get hard, hide them.” “Don’t go out, they may have an episode…hide them.” “If you go to a restaurant, what if they are loud and someone sitting at another table starts staring and even has the audacity to say, “Were trying to eat here, can you take them some place else?” You wouldn’t want to experience that so it’s easier to hide them.”
When the enemy comes with fear we must fight back with faith. These children are our lights that were not made to be hidden. Society may want us to hide them but God wants to see them shine.
So as Connor is having a melt down the backstage assistant was trying to put a microphone on him and he would not wear it. He was crying and gritting his teeth in frustration.
“Should we let him go out there?” “Maybe we should have him wait in the green room,” we said to each other. I could feel fear setting in. The safe thing to do would be to let him wait here so one of us could share. The enemy always wants special needs parents to play it safe. When you fear you look for safety. Yet, faith says, “Trust Me.” I’ve put you here for a purpose to let my light shine through your child. I love the scripture in Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I looked at my wife and said, “were not going to let the enemy stop us from going out there with our son.” “If he acts up fine. At least they will see what a parent of a special needs child goes through and hopefully have compassion for them. Either way, were not going to hide him, were going to let him shine.” We prayed and felt God with us. When it came time to go out and the lights came up Connor sit in his chair like a little gentleman until we had basically finished sharing about the Champions Clubs. Then he began to notice his face in the monitor. The crowd is enjoying him making faces at himself. So he plops down and begins to move closer to the monitor in front of him. His mom pulls him up to the chair and Connor thinks he is hilarious! All of a sudden he begins to clap like he just did something amazing and said, “Yea,” with a big smile on his face. The crowd in the studio loved his excitement and started clapping with him. He stole the show!
A viewer called me afterwards and said, “It couldn’t have been more perfect. We saw a real glimpse of what it was like to have a special needs child. Thank you for sharing your light Connor to the world.”
Hide them under a bushel, NO! Let them shine. let them shine, let them shine.
This is the link to the Great Day Houston program Connor was on. Click here: http://www.khou.com/great-day/videos/gdh_4-12-13_seg6-202746391.html