I sat in the developmental pediatrician’s office with my youngest son, Silas, in my lap. I typically try to avoid bringing an additional child with me to this type of appointment, but due to the day’s schedule my oldest son was also enduring the appointment.
Before the doctor started in on his 100+ questions for me, he looked at my teenage son and asked him, “What is it like for you having a brother with special needs?”
I knew there was a string of complaints that my son could have easily spouted off in response to this question, and I wondered which one he would choose to offer up to the doctor.
I waited expecting to hear something like…
I get kind of embarrassed when he is loud in a restaurant.
He comes into my room and pulls every book off my shelf and tries to play my guitar.
He is loud when I want to sleep in on Saturdays.
He takes a whole lot of my mom’s time and energy because he has to be watched like a hawk.
I braced myself, unsure of what he would say, but mainly for the wave of guilt I expected to feel after his statement. Because having a child with special needs in the family changes the dynamics of a family. It’s just a fact, and many times as parents we experience feelings of guilt for what we are not doing for or giving to our typically developing children as a result.
But instead my son smiled, with a big grin as his eyes shifted lovingly to his younger brother, and his response was simple yet profound: “It’s just Silas.”
It was like he was saying, it’s just who Silas is and he’s my brother. I had to push back the tears as I felt so proud, not because of his response but because of his heart.
Not one of the hundreds of complaints he could have spouted off came into his mind because he has truly learned to accept and love Silas for the person God created him to be.
God taught me a huge lesson through my older child’s response that day. I am wrong when I feel guilty about what I am not doing for or giving to my typically developing children. He created and purposely placed each child into my family as a part of His sovereign will and plan.
I should not focus on what my typical children are not getting but on what they are given by having a special sibling. And this day I was reminded of how they are given the opportunity to learn true, unconditional love:
- A love that accepts people just as God created them to be.
- A love that nurtures and protects at all costs.
- A love that does not care about worldly standards or what is supposed to be.
- A love that unselfishly gives and forgives many times over.
As I watch the character of Silas’s siblings develop, I see how God is using our family dynamic to mold them into amazing people. I understand how their special sibling is helping to shape them into men that 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 describes as strong, firm, alert, and always doing what they do in love.
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love.
• I Corinthians 16:13-14 •
Prayer • Lord, help me to move my heart away from feeling guilty about our family dynamics, and teach me to focus my heart on the love and joy that having a child with special needs brings to our family.