A Life-Changing Way to Look at Your Relatives

We waited more than a year for this day to come. My husband, my son with disabilities, and I arrived early to the courthouse. It was 9:30 in the morning as we walked nervously toward the room that would change my son’s life.

father and son
(Image from Pixabay)

A Whole Person

My son is now a legal adult. But he will never really be an “adult” as you and I may define adult, unless the Lord chooses to change how he currently functions.

At his age, a typical person’s life is full of opportunity to make an impact. The world is his or her oyster. There’s just enough life experience to be dangerous, just enough education to believe one is brilliant, plenty of friends to fall back on for support, and barely enough money to move out and make it.

I know this because I watched two of my three kids progress through the developmental stages who are now young adults. They . . .

  • Received an education
  • Won awards for gifts and abilities
  • Have great friends to call at any time
  • Have grown up to be mature
  • Have grown up to be resilient
  • Have grown up to be full of hope

If time and interest permitted, I would write a book on how proud I am of who they have become, the challenges they have endured, and the joy they have brought to my life (except for a few teenage years they are lucky to have survived).

However, their younger brother Jon lives a life that couldn’t be more different from theirs. He lives looking through different lenses. Unless the Lord plans otherwise, Jon will never . . .

  • Graduate from a prestigious school
  • Feel the intimacy and delight of being loved by a marriage partner
  • Manage a bank account
  • Get his driver’s license
  • Be independently employed
  • He won’t ever read a book and understand it
  • Have a conversation and comprehend it
  • Have typical friendships and enjoy them

Jon has disabilities which change the way this world treats him. This world isn’t taught to look at the heart first . . . typical or not. Because this world focuses on things like appearances and abilities, he’s not seen as a whole person.

People can’t seem to see past the acne, the earphones he wears, his mismatched clothes, his untied shoes, his ill-fitting sunglasses. This world doesn’t slow down to care for his heart that carries tremendous fear and anxiety, along with unfathomable pain from being bullied and assaulted.

This world misses his blue eyes that cry when he’s rejected repeatedly. This world has no clue of what it’s like for a person who is unable to have a conversation and have people laugh at one’s jokes.

I understand this in my head, but my heart aches for his pain every day.

Unconditional Love

We were called to the front of the courtroom, Jon, my husband, and me. The judge looked over his glasses at the three of us and asked what brought us here.

My husband began to tell how we met. He shared his love for me and for all three of my kids. As he began to tear up, the judge looked at Jon with all the tenderness of a doting grandfather.

As Toban finished, Jon was asked if he was okay with Toban adopting him as his very own son. Jon stumbled out the words . . . “Um . . . yes, YES, s-s-sir; I would like that very much for my life, sir.

He is my daddy and loves me.” There’s something about a 20-year-old saying “daddy” that strips away all pretense.

What took more than a year to prepare took only moments to complete. My husband adopted my son. A person who this world pushes away was embraced by an unconditionally loving man.

father and son

(Image from Pixabay)

You Are of Immeasurable Value

I don’t know your story, your abilities, your needs, or your longings. I do know you are a person created by God with immeasurable value. God has made no mistake in creating your life. He cares nothing of what you can “do” for Him but about what He has done for you.

See, what God did as our heavenly Father is what my husband did that day in the courtroom. God saw your need, saw your value, and said I want you to be mine.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).

All you have to do is say, “Yes, yes, I would very much like God to be my daddy for life.”

God has done all the preparation by sending His Son, and He knows that without Christ you cannot make it through life. You and I have disabled souls.

Try as we might, on this earth we will never be free of this lifelong human condition. But Jesus became one of us, redeemed us, and brought us near our Father who made us His own (Ephesians 2:13; Galatians 4:7).

Romans 11:33–36 says:

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How IMPOSSIBLE it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For EVERYTHING comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for HIS glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (emphasis added)

Friend, just as my son cannot change his earthly diagnosis, you and I cannot change our spiritual diagnosis. It requires Jesus, who chose to die and who rose again so that you may have eternal life.

His love doesn’t depend on you or your abilities because in His eyes you and I are no different from Jon. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are fully adopted into the family of God.

You are cherished.

Let Me Hear from You

I leave you with one challenge. Next time you see someone with disabilities, will you look into his or her eyes? Will you take time to look beyond the earthly differences and see eternity in him or her?

By knowing Jesus, Christians are in God’s family for all eternity. Welcome home!

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15 thoughts on “A Life-Changing Way to Look at Your Relatives

  1. What a powerful reminder of how fragile life is, how fragile we all are. But the thing that impresses me most about all of your posts Colleen are how you always, always have hope intermingled with your challenges…I have no idea what you, Jon, Taban and all of your children face each day, but I somehow feel, scratch that, I KNOW, that your hope is based on ‘nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”….how sweet and comforting to know that someday…..someday….we will all be made new in Christ…forever….blessings to all in HIM….

    • Scotty,
      Oh my…I have to say your words brought tears to my eyes. This has been a very tough, complicated season and yes, my hope is in Jesus. He promises us everything…not that life here will be full of all we want because then we are entering that ‘selfish’ place. But, He promises to be with us through this life and to keep our focus on the next. Having Jon reminds me every day that eternity is our home. This is just a passageway. There are days when that hope seems blurred by current circumstances or tears of grief which is no different than what Christ experienced on earth as well. So, I know He gets me…my fragility…all my crap…and loves me in spite of it all. One day, Scotty, we will all be sitting around laughing, delighting in, and praising our Father face to face. Isn’t that a thought that makes us smile!!!! Great to hear from you, as always. Have a wonderful day! Colleen

  2. Hi Colleen <3 I share your hurt for son's that aren't what the world understands. My son may achieve more than your son but has yet to be able to excel at school. He is super athletic but so short he rarely gets a chance to play for teams beyond recreational. RAD means he is always getting in trouble. When he's ok, he has only preschool like communication skills and when he's not he is verbally abusive. But no matter the hurt he causes, I still want the world to give him a chance. Heck, I want him to see his value and stop feeling the need to take control to feel ok. But I am thankful for what he brings to my life and humbled that God thought my husband and I could give him what he needed and guide him into adulthood. I'm so grateful that God is ultimately able to take our efforts and the community that we are part of and make a whole human being out of this wounded angry boy. I'm also praying that God will protect him from his impulses and doesn't need to make good come from what could happen should he react and make horrible choices. Who knew what this journey called parenthood would entail. Had we know, we probably would have run the other way… and missed the blessings!

    • Dear Fabulous,
      I have to say, your name here is the greatest!!! I am very familiar with RAD…it is one of the most difficult challenges a family can face. But as you said, God called you to it which means He will always provide; most often when we have zero resources left and we’re spent. I hope you will write anytime you need to barrow some strength, some faith, a piece of joy, a reminder of hope. ANYTIME.. I too pray that the world will someday be able to see past the external behaviors; most likely if they didn’t see past our perfect Father while he was here, they most certainly will miss the bigger picture on most occasions. In fact, I did before I had a child that didn’t fit in…life changing in every way. I admire your grace, your faith, your endurance, and pray you will be able to love your little guy into attachment and hope. How hurt we all are, some just show it more than others. The love you are pouring into him is ultimately a service and love to our Father. I sometimes have to remember when serving in ways that exhaust me or at times frustrate me, I am serving the Lord. It’s a great attitude check every time. I pray the Lord gives you an abundance of hope and a focus on the bigger picture. Again, thanks so much for writing and please connect any time!!!! This is a place where there is acceptance, love, compassion, humility, and hope. Great to connect with you today! Colleen

  3. This made me tear up. Not being
    understood, accepted or able to even sense love like I used to, I feel and know that pain. The cognitive impairment and emotional impact of MS is
    nothing short of devastating . Oh what love the Father has for us misfits! And we are all misfit in some way-because sin disables us all! (As you said so well) This was so encouraging for me as a person and also as a mother of a 24 year old bipolar daughter who isn’t speaking to me currently. I’ve watched her struggle and be in pain for most of those 20 years. God holds her when I cannot and this comforts me, even as I live with my own issues. God is always good- all the time- even when I can’t “see” it. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Becky,
      I LOVE the “mis-fit” comment. I’ve said for so long that I live on the “Island of Mis-Fit toys”! I have ADD and episodes of depression as well as PTSD. We all have stuff in our lives that give us reason to hope for heaven! Clearly, your hope is planted there while you endure such grave pain and relational challenges. I’m so sorry for the bi-polar issues and the distance you are experiencing right now. I pray that her heart will soften and she will return to cultivate a relationship with you that brings joy and life!!!! I don’t know if you have seen the interview I did several years ago with Joe Padilla of the Mental health Grace Alliance. His wife suffered from bi-polar disorder and it almost destroyed their family. His words are filled with hope! The mental illness challenges do put us on our knees and reveal how little control we have in this life. For today, I pray you will feel the comfort, love, and presence of the Lord, that He would relieve you of your pain, and place sunshine in your heart. So good to connect with you my dear friend. You have a neighbor on that island, ME! Sending you a smile, Colleen

    • Lynda,
      Sweet friend…you just blessed my life! Seeing you beautiful face and reading your words were of great comfort. We’ve been sick around our place, encouragement fills my heart! How are you? Recovery? Health and home?
      Gotta get a catch up! Love you friend!

      • Still on recoup from surgery…it was similar to mastectomies, so a tough one. And then I got the flu. It’s been a challenge. Lots of time to reflect and talk to Jesus. Home is good though. Stable, secure and happy honestly. Matt is a rock. He does random silly things that keeps me laughing…and YOU know that’s a huge change for me. I’m volunteering still for Because There Is Hope and using my cancer as a testimony to the best of my ability. And omg…I am entered in a makeover pageant!!! So far, I’m voted as the #1 winner. I did it for ME…looking at my 53 year old, overweight, cancer affected body (because of complications, I am not having reconstruction). I want my story to be about inner beauty and confidence…that a size 5 or whatever body and cleavage are NOT what makes a woman beautiful. I laugh because I am a Harley and black and blue jeans and boots kinda gal. I can’t wait to see what is chosen for me to wear on the runway.
        Dakoda continues to be his happy self. Your stories of my friend Jon bring me joy and tears. Our boys are precious.
        I miss your voice. You are constantly in my heart. I love you dear friend… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/64fd2ac0a4914b3ca042e4fea3e24307e4d97009b00759315d15ad74defb3927.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/426b3a7febe1282026e57c9b96358c28ff41ade4592465c400cd62df239bc78b.jpg

        • Lynda,
          OH MY GOSH….you are beautiful! I can’t wait to see picts! I love your heart, your soul, and your determination…you are one incredible chic-o-la!
          Double masc…cannot imagine the pain but incredible attitude. Looks are way, WAY overrated!!! When is the pageant? You will be so beautiful!
          Dakota sounds good; warms my heart. It’s been a hard three years for my Jon…life after high school, working on PTSD and trauma, found more skeletal issues in his back (genetics stink), and he LONGS for a girlfriend. He had two grand maul’s several months ago, almost bit his lounge in two then got thrush and secondary infections. My hubby is the best; facing some disc issues and working insane hours on hurricane Harvey relief. Get this, my daughter met TEMPLE GRANDIN!!!!! I have a pict…told her never to wash her shirt again! Her heart has opened up to Jon after reading Temple’s books; miracles continue. So much to be thankful for while life remains challenging. You understand that like few…you are a hero in my book. Love connecting. Col

          • Lynda, Isn’t it totally the Lord to bring something like this your way! I was thinking about it…you’ve struggled to feel loved and valued, had enormous challenges relationally and physically, trusted Him through so, so much and now…has made a way for you to feel like the beautiful princess you are!!!! I can’t wait to see pictures when you get them. Yes, somehow we need to get our numbers to each other and chat for a while. Love you friend, Colleen

  4. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of Gods love I like you have a son who will turn 19 next month and he also will not fly from the nest but with Gods grace I have and still am learning to see Gods plan for his life it may not be what this world sees as normal but I know that his life has impacted so many other lives with his ability to love unconditional

    • Robin,
      I was just sitting in church yesterday, praying for strength in this time of transition we are facing as a family…I totally understand. The work is far greater than we can handle on our own; so thankful we have a savior who is all powerful, all knowing, all good; who is always faithful to fulfill His promises. It’s not always the way we want or desire; it is always what we need to become more like Christ. The Lord has used my son to transform my faith…I’m thinking you have had a similar experience. We’ve got to stick together, to encourage one another, and to know God’s got a plan for our incredibly special boys. Hang in there and write anytime. It’s so good to connect with you…let’s stay in touch. Colleen