Saturday, November 22, 2008

Walk with me

I recently read another mom's thoughts on the frustrating moments when people tell you that God must have thought you to be a pretty amazing person who could handle a kid with special needs so that is why he gave you one. They say that God doesn't give us something that He knows we can't handle.

I have heard this too and although I acknowledge people's motives good - they are wanting to be encouraging - the statement is actually very unhelpful. It can make you feel guilty because you know you aren't particularly amazing, and it can make you really question God. Not only is it an unhelpful statement, but I don't believe it is true from a biblical perspective. Ironically it is most often said by Christians.
I believe that good and bad things happen to all people. I believe we have a choice as to how we respond. If we welcome God into our lives and journey, we then have access to His mighty resources. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol (Galatians 5: 22-23). These things are in our lives because God lives in our lives, not because we are superhuman. So when people look at my life and the task of raising Matt - and they think that they couldn't do it. They must know that I can't do it either. It is only by God's strength, grace and the fruit of His Holy Spirit that I am loving Matt and caring for Matt in the way that I do. (Not that I am getting it right all the time - I am still learning to receive God's strength for all the challenges) I believe that any person can receive that strength from God too - it is not because I am particularly amazing, it is because God is.

I also don't believe in the statement that God doesn't give you a task that He knows you can't manage. In fact my experience of God is the opposite - I believe He calls us to tasks, visions and dreams that are way beyond our own resources.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians v 9 & 10 "...God said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I (Paul) will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Look also at Moses and Gideon who achieved amazing things, they both started by telling God that He had got the wrong person for the job. Look at the people Jesus called as disciples - they certainly were not called because they were superamazing people. God calls ordinary people to do extra-ordinary tasks - but here is the thing - we do those tasks WITH God, in HIS strength and by HIS power. It is not something we achieve on our own.

God does this so that He can surprise us and the world with His glory and His power - so that when the task is done no-one will be in doubt that it was only achieved by His hand. And then people will be drawn to Him.

In the light of these truths, it would be more helpful for people to acknowledge that the task set before a mother of a child with special needs is hard. Rather than encourage her that she is super-amazing and she should continue doing it on her own, tell her to throw herself into God's arms for help.

Jesus said: Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-30)

It would be helpful if people - specifically Christians - truly realise that they are the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth. So every time they do something practical for a mother with a kid who has special needs, God uses that to make her burden lighter. By practical I mean:
  • visiting or phoning to see how she is and letting her talk if she needs to,

  • sending her text messages or notes of encouragement so she knows that she is not alone,

  • making a meal for her family so that she has time to rest,

  • babysitting (even for a short time) so that she can have some space to catch up with herself or her husband,

  • actively praying for her, her family and her child

  • when you are going grocery shopping, phoning her and asking if you can do hers at the same time (I'm not talking about you paying for the shopping, but the act of doing to shopping so she has more time)
Thank you to all of you who have reached out to me or to another mom who kas a kiddie with special needs. I know that it takes courage because it is awkward and often you don't know what to say. I know that you don't want to offend. I know that it is easier to hold back or stay away. I want to you know that I would rather have someone reach out and say something stupid than keep away. I will not hold it against you because this road is new for me too and I too am learning as I go along. If you are really brave you can ask me how best to support me and I will share with you. But whatever you do keep walking with me - you will never know how much it means.


Cindy said...

Well said, Jacqui!

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

an ocean away, but right by your side!!!

carina said...

I completely agree.

shelly edkins said...

Thanks Jax. You are always challenging us to think about how we can be "part of your journey " with Matt. I wish I was round the corner so I could actively do some of these things to help you and Lloyd... know that you are in our prayers. Thank you for verbalising these feelings and experience that you have. God is using you to minister to, and challenge all of us who read this blog. love shelly

Craig, Taryn and our blessings said...

Hi Jax - for some reason this post came up on my rss reader today, even though you wrote it last year! You are 100% right that it's ONLY through God's strength that we can do anything. And it's often through these things that he strengthens us. His strength is perfect ... whether we have none or a ton.

Platitudes are well meant, but sometimes annoying and sometimes biblically incorrect. Thank you for being so honest about where you are at and what others can do. And thank you for reminding us that it is not about US but about God.