When my son was young, someone gave me the famous essay called "Welcome to Holland" written by Emily Perl Kingsley about having a child with a disability. It has ministered to me over the years.The essay describes a life of joyous expectancy at the arrival of a long-awaited trip (like parenthood). But the reader soon discovers that the trip has turned into something completely unexpected and one ill-prepared for. Emily's optimism takes you to a place of acceptance and a new-found joy. It's a place that is different, but still beautiful.
I've read that some parents find this essay uncomfortable and disturbing. To describe your new life with a child that has disabilities as beautiful and joyous can be a bit hard to swallow. One mom even wrote that she felt like she was in Beirut! Well I can relate to that! I used to tell my friends that I felt like I was using "gorilla parenting techniques" (like in gorilla warfare) to manage my son's unpredictable behavior. At times I felt like I was in a war when my son would get aggressive. So I get it. Life isn't always neat and tidy. Very often this life gets messy and wearisome. So that's why it's imperative that we also learn how to take very good care of ourselves along the way, including refreshing our minds daily.
I take the view that this life as a parent raising children with disabilities is similar to a roller coaster ride. Our lows may be more difficult than most parents experience, however, our highs can be more joy-filled than many. And we are given the opportunity to hone our skills and gifts in a way that produces strong character. I know we often think the stress will kill us. (That is when we need to get some refreshment!) But if we change our perspective that we've been given a gift in these children, our burdens will feel lighter. Focusing on the beauty of our journey will keep our hearts in check and help us raise our kids with more love and compassion.
I read a story decades ago that also ministered to my heart. One woman wrote about her transformation from pain to beauty this way. She saw herself as a fragile person like a house with panes of stained glass. As each dream in her life was shattered, a pane of stained glass fell and broke into pieces. Eventually all she had left were broken pieces of glass. At her lowest point, she asked God for healing. Piece by piece, the Lord carefully placed each bit of broken glass back until the most stunning stained glass picture was created. With the Lord's Light shining through the newly-formed stained glass design, a new beauty was born. Certainly a picture of infinite worth. Love melded these pieces of glass together to create a new destiny for her.
Give the pain from your circumstances in life to God, and let Him heal you everywhere it hurts. He will transform your broken dreams into a new life. There will be more pain and challenges along your journey, but you will have the assurance that your Creator will keep transforming you from broken to beautiful.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."