It’s vacation time…we are enjoying some time on a tranquil lake in the relaxing Pocono Mountains. One of Jack’s favorite things to do is anything with boats. So much so that today we allowed him to paddle himself in the canoe.
As I waded in the water just waiting for him to jump out of the boat my mind wandered back almost 7 years ago when we learned that we would be having another baby.
Remember when you looked at the ‘pee stick’ and discovered you were pregnant? For some it is super exciting from the start. For others, there is an element of fear that kicks in because of the unknown that lies ahead. Yet for both there comes a point where you dream about the future and what activities you will share with your child. You imagine them blowing out their first birthday candle and then having tea parties or going hiking and camping together. Your mind stretches out to see them graduate school and college…and eventually get married and have kids of their own.
Well, Jack didn’t have the strength to blow out his first birthday candle, he doesn’t like to walk long distances, would run away if we went camping and according to statistics…probably won’t ever be a father…but he will be an awesome uncle! Can you relate? It really doesn’t matter what diagnosis your son or daughter has… some milestones have been mastered, others are still in the distance.
I don’t want to smash any high hopes (or maybe I do) but are these dreams or expectations that we inevitably place on our kids true reality? The expectation for our kids to succeed is usually based solely on our perspective of what success looks like and feels like…and this world’s system of success is measured by worldly indicators.
Perhaps you are a very successful person and you want that for your child, or perhaps you dream of greater success for your child than what you have experienced, as is the story of renowned surgeon Ben Carson whose mother couldn’t even read. While on the surface this endeavor is noble and even I have dreams for my kids, I would like to challenge the extent to which this principle is carried out and bring some encouragement to parents who have children with special needs.
Here’s my challenge: “Our Expectation of Reality is flawed by our sinful nature and worldview.”
The Bible tells us that it is man who looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). To carry this thought further, John 10:10 informs us that Jesus came so that we would have life in abundance through Him, not anything to do with worldly factors.
In transparency I have had to settle with this myself. I am a very driven, goal-oriented person who tends to find my self-worth in my accomplishments and when I look in the mirror of Scripture I am told that what God delights in is not even close to my criteria.
The prophet Micah couldn’t have said it any simpler…
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (English Standard Version)
Micah 6:8 is the only expectation that we are to place on our children with special needs. Not an expectation that is connected to unrealistic intellectual or physical milestones.
As we learned to negotiate life with a son who has Down syndrome there was a period of time that I didn’t know what life would hold for Jack. Please understand that I am all for therapies and good strong educational supports to help Jack gain as much independence as possible and to help him fulfill his goals and dreams that will for as he grows older. Yet, if we truly have a desire to honor God as parents we need to balance worldly accomplishments with the understanding that God does have a purpose for our children with special needs and that true fulfillment is discovered in a life that ‘walks humbly with your God’.
Sincerely, Jack’s Dad
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