Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me!

Note: The following post is adapted from Bob West’s booklet, “Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me!”

Everything about life changed for Bob and his family with the birth of his son, diagnosed with disabilities. Your life may be free of disabling conditions, but your faith may be in question due to something that’s happened in your life that you cannot change or fix.

Photo by Frank Ezelle, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps you experience or have experienced chronic pain, profound loss, or unfulfilled expectations. Perhaps you are looking for a firm foothold to stand upon. The surest foundation is to place your faith in Jesus Christ.

Good News in Hard Times

I have only three things to tell parents of children with special needs—three things I wish someone had told me years ago. It doesn’t matter what kind of man or woman you are; we all have a soft spot for our children. Finding out something is wrong with them, in our minds, just about tops the list of worst things that can happen. You can’t get through the trauma of your child’s disability on your own, and you need to know that other parents have survived the same battle you’re going through.

I want to help. I want to help you. I want to help your kids.

Shock and Awe!

The term shock and awe was coined to describe a doctrine of military dominance, but just as easily it can be used to describe what you’re experiencing too . . . bewilderment, confusion, humbling circumstances, and distress. When my son was born with disabilities, I felt useless. There was nothing I could do. I felt guilt, my marriage was strained, I was a hammer trying to fix life.

Don’t be shocked that you are shocked. Don’t be in awe at being in awe. Pray. Talk. Keep moving forward. This IS tough, but so are you!

What’s Normal?

My middle son once asked me as we walked into church on Sunday: “Why does everybody else seem to have it together while we’re always such a mess?” I had just yelled at the kids at home because we were running late. We fought all the way to church.

I gulped at his question but then reminded him that, in reality, everyone has their own messes to deal with. Their messes just don’t always show on the outside. It’s not a matter of IF we are going to screw up—it’s a matter of WHEN we are going to screw up. It’s our response to the screw ups that make all the difference in the world. To believe in a God we can’t see is hard, especially in tough times when we begin to question if He’s there at all.

We all have doubts about God, especially when painful things happen to us. All my doubts essentially boil down to this: “Why?” Why would a loving God do this? Why do other people have perfectly healthy children while my child was in the ICU?

I had other questions, but they all came back to wanting to know just one thing from God: Why does my son have a disability?

Three Essentials

My son’s life and his disabilities changed my life—most significantly in the area of my faith. I wish someone had told me these three faith essentials long ago.

  1. Faith is vital. Without God, of whom can you ask questions; to whom can you go when the world is crashing down around you?
  2. Faith is not a destination; it is a journey. Twenty-one years after my son’s birth, I can tell you that God has not directly answered my question of why. But as I asked, I grew as a person. Asking hard questions, praying, and meditating open our eyes to truths we’ve never grasped before.
  3. Faith is sustaining. I have been at a place where I have thought, If one more thing happens to me, I am going to SNAP! Those are the days when all I can pray is HELP! Yet, the sun comes up the next day, and somehow I make it through. This is the grace of God. As I look back, I can see the pattern of God supplying me not what I wanted but what I needed. Without God, I would have never made it on my own . . . and neither will you.1Adapted from Bob West, “Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me! A Dad Shares What He Has Learned about Having a Child with Special Needs” (Need Project, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Need Project, Inc. Used by permission.

Let Me Hear from You (from Colleen)

The choice to put your faith in Jesus Christ requires trust . . . so I ask you, do you trust in Jesus Christ to get you through? What do you believe about God? Are you willing to accept what He has allowed to happen in your life? I would encourage you to watch or listen to Bob’s interview or share it with someone who may be struggling. This week, pick one or two of the questions above and let’s talk about them together.

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Notes:   [ + ]

1. Adapted from Bob West, “Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me! A Dad Shares What He Has Learned about Having a Child with Special Needs” (Need Project, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Need Project, Inc. Used by permission.