Caring for Families with Hidden Disabilities

An Interview with Shannon Royce

Shannon Royce was pursuing her plan for life. She grew up in a pastor’s home, faithfully attended church, married a fine Christian man, and had two children. Life was polished and full of purpose.

Shannon Royce
Shannon Royce

But God’s plan was different than Shannon’s. This became clear when her son was diagnosed with hidden disabilities. In addition, Shannon is a cancer survivor.

These disabling conditions may never be easy, expected, or have an end. But Shannon discovered how God provides a way for us to endure; turning our many sorrows into magnificent avenues of comfort for others and intimacy with Him.

Watch the Video

Interview Questions

  1. Can you explain what “hidden disabilities” means?
  2. How have hidden disabilities affected your family?
  3. What are some of the painful things you experienced?
  4. What has encouraged you, and how can the church be an encouragement to non-typical families?
  5. How can non-typical families help the church understand these needs?
  6. You mention “managing life” verses “having control.” What is the difference and how does it affect our lives?

Let Me Hear from You

Where do we find hope when we encounter such hardships? The comments section is specifically for you; providing the comfort and connection needed when life is rough.

Shannon touched on many issues, some of which you may be struggling with today: Disabilities, crisis, pain, change in life, sorrow, and grief.

Question: What are some of the painful things you experienced?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Connect with Shannon

Shannon-RoyceShannon Royce serves as President & C.E.O. of ChosenFamilies.org. You can connect with Shannon on her Web site or on Facebook or on Twitter. Prior to founding Chosen Families, Shannon served in various pro-family organizations as a public policy advocate. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University School of Law and is licensed to practice (currently Associate status) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Shannon and Bill have two teenage sons and live in Falls Church, Virginia. She has been actively involved in Falls Church as an advocate for children with special needs, and she has served on her local Special Education Advisory Committee for 12 years.

  • Cindy Braswell

    Thank you for this interview. Letting God manage the “crisis moment” (or any moment) is so hard. Remembering that I have control over what I have for breakfast and letting Him guide me with His wisdom and counsel is the best way. However, waiting is so hard… I’m sure others have waited for far more important things than I’m waiting for. How does one put that into perspective? How does one become a “doer” amid the wait and not a “stewer” amid the wait? (example: my grandmother would clean her house, I tend to be more of a “stand still” & wait. But that accomplishes nothing. My grandmother’s house was always clean 🙂 my house, hmmm, not so much.

    • Cindy,
      The million dollar quandary…waiting. It is such a process that at first feels totally useless, doesn’t it! In this driven world of ours, to be still or to be quiet or to wait is not valued. We value achievement or success…earthly things; eternal things are rarely, if ever considered important. I have come to learn that waiting is one of God’s choicest divine appointments. One of my favorite books titled “The Velveteen Principles-A Guide to becoming Real” talks about time and growth. He says…In this frantic world, the idea that we might have to wait to get something important can sound foreign and even disturbing….but we must engage in the process…we may feel bad about ourselves as if we should be able to do everything quickly…but this is a long term endeavor and requires you share the precious gift of time and patience… And it was Thomas La Mance who coined the phrase “Life happens to us when we are making other plans”. I say all this to highlight this point, when we are in waiting, our plans are either put on hold or being crushed altogether. In the pain or silence of it all, what is inside our souls begins to surface…anxieties, wanting to control something or fix something or have an answer or at least a plan of attack; a duty of some kind. Duties are often distractions to what is really happening; God is attending to the development of our character as we wait. We find we are impatient, angry, upset, bitter, uncomfortable, out of control, and our way is NOT God’s way; all of which are issues of character and faith development. to follow so to speak. At times, it is painful, there can be grief; but there is no other sifting process quite as exact as the experience of waiting and the passing of earthly time. Cindy, you are not standing still, you are growing deep. Whatever has you waiting is God’s way of calling you to Himself and asking you to release your plans or hands clinging to something earthly and cling to Him. It is also vital to remember that earthly time is not God’s time. God has no limit to yesterday, today, or forever. So what may be 24 hours to us, is not a confining point for God. It is helpful to remember that very point…hours and days mean nothing to God; we mean everything to God. As a result, there is grand purpose in growth…Much of which is never visible. It strips away the layers of self-life and shapes us into authentic, real people closely connected to Christ. who we are. I hope this is a comfort to you today. In His Time, Colleen

  • Karen Walter

    Thank you so very much for this interview. So much understanding, empathy and wisdom for parents of a child with a hidden disability. I am grateful for this ministry and for discovering ChosenFamilies.org through this ministry. God bless you and you bless Him.

    • Karen,
      What very kind and affirming words…thank you so much. Yes, Chosen Families is an amazing page and you will find such great wisdom there. It is my hope that people like you will be encouraged and find resources that inspire them to grow in their faith and with their families. Have a wonderful afternoon. Colleen

  • mary blackwell

    Thank you Colleen. I got it! God has a plan for my grandson who has a hidden disability. He and I recently attended the California Science Center in Los Angeles to attend the Endeavour/Hubble Telescope Exhibit. Oh how my heart broke when this 12 year old little boy declared that he too wanted to go into space to see the Earth from “way up there.” I am so grateful to the Lord for inspiring you and Shannon to share your journey; what an encouragement to me you have been. I hope to also be an encouragement to others, especially his parents – my son and daughter-in-love.

    • Dear Mary,
      What a wonderful grandmother you are! I’m sure you have been through a lot with a grandson diagnosed with hidden disabilities; to go to an exhibit must have been a delight. And as you mentioned, his differences may limit what he can/cannot do which in the moment, often tugs at the heart. I understand. The words “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” ring through my mind in those moments; reminding me that God has made every single individual different. While he may not go to the moon, it sounds as if he is opening the eyes of your heart to see more of heaven. Thank you for your kind words and for connecting here. Colleen

    • Dear Mary,
      What a wonderful grandmother you are! I’m sure you have been through a lot with a grandson diagnosed with hidden disabilities; to go to an exhibit must have been a delight. And as you mentioned, his differences may limit what he can/cannot do which in the moment, often tugs at the heart. I understand. The words “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” ring through my mind in those moments; reminding me that God has made every single individual different. While he may not go to the moon, it sounds as if he is opening the eyes of your heart to see more of heaven. Thank you for your kind words and for connecting here. Colleen

  • MichaelDeRosa

    Great points, Colleen. Waiting IS HARD…IF we view it as ‘doing nothing’. But, when we realize that we CAN (and should) do something, then such ‘waiting’ becomes fruitful! Psalm 46:10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
    (Here we read that the ‘activity’ we are given while we wait is to
    ‘know…God’, which is a lifetime study and a lifetime experience.)

    • Michael,
      Your comment is wonderful. First, Ps 46 is one of my favorite, and secondly because the truth of being still is so vital to our human condition. After the Psalmist lists enemies, wars, storms and the picture of such total unrest, we are commanded to be still…to be calm in knowing God (as you mentioned which happens in the waiting process); and to be comforted in the sovereign control He has over all things. In spite of what we see and experience, it is God who is at work in and through us. And so I have found as you have, that waiting is pregnant with the greatest opportunity for our lives…to know God and therefore, be calmed in all ways. I am so thankful you brought to mind this Psalm for it’s the perfect picture of the process of waiting. Thank you so much. Have a great day and hope to touch base again. Colleen

  • Pain is a tremendous substitute teacher when the plain truth of God’s Word doesn’t sink in by hearing alone. Thank you for this encouraging interview.

    • Wayne,
      Wouldn’t it be nice if the written or spoken word of God easily transformed our soul! It seems though that pain is a teacher indeed; and in most difficult times, it seems pain is a class we all take for a season….sometimes for a long, long time. There is a great book titled “A Tale of Three Kings” by Eugene Edwards in which one of the chapters begins with something like…’There is a school…”. It is so well written and affirms what most of us learn in life, and that is we will all suffer but in the pain, God is doing a remarkable work. Thanks again for your comment here. Colleen