For some reason, God has put the siblings of other children with disabilities right in front of me the past couple of weeks.
- A friend emails with a sweet description of his non-disabled older son’s treatment of his younger brothers
- A dad blogs about how his non-disabled son treats his brother
- Friends invite us over for dinner and I watch how siblings help their parents with their youngest brother’s many care needs
- Young children speak with confidence about their youngest brother’s potential
- Of course, my own daughter with her older brother
These children and young people are demonstrating gifts of care and attention that should embarrass most adults.
There is another side, of course, and that includes the siblings who feel ignored or neglected by their parents and the rest of the world because the needs of their disabled sibling get so much attention. Or those children who resent that what was a relatively normal life has been turned upside down – permanently – because of their disabled sibling. Parents feel deep pain at these types of reactions, on top of the pain they already carry.
But that isn’t the end of the story. I have also heard of children who embrace their disabled sibling later in life. We should never stop asking God to help us with these hard things.
My growing up was pretty easy – great parents and older sisters, stable home life, many Christian influences. But I also wasn’t prepared for some very hard things that God has mercifully carried me through.
So I wonder: given that these siblings have already taken on hard things, what things will they tackle later in their lives? What is God preparing them for?
And that is another good reason to pray for entire families experiencing disability, and not just the member with the disability.