Continuing on the theme, “things people say to us,” Dianne offers the most annoying thing people say to her:
“God only gives these special children to special people.”
There is a lot right about that statement. God clearly, in his sovereignty, gave us our boy.
And I don’t get too bothered by the term ‘special children.’ It is a sanitized way of saying that our children with disabilities are different than children without disabilities, usually in ways that are observable and measurable. Given the kinds of terms used to describe our children in past times, special isn’t too bad.
So why is my wife annoyed by that phrase? In her own words, “I’m not special.” She does not consider herself unusual, and doesn’t like people assuming that she is. That attitude that somehow she is ‘special’ actually creates barriers to developing relationships.
Now, of course, everyone is uniquely created by God and has been given a purpose for existing. Psalm 139:16 adds that our days were formed specifically for us by God even before there were days.
And C.S. Lewis colorfully points out how unaware we are of what people will ultimately be like:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, p. 45
If only people meant that when they use the word special! But they don’t.
Referencing parents as special implies that children with disabilities were given parents with unusual abilities. If only that were true! I wouldn’t mind having some special abilities as a dad, but I certainly have made all the same dumb mistakes (and more) as other dads. And given the rate of abortion of children with disabilities, those parents don’t feel too special or capable, either.
It also implies that this opportunity to parent a child with a disability was earned somehow – that God was looking around and saw how ‘special’ we are and decided our children with disabilities deserved someone so special. Back to Dianne’s point: we’re not special, with the possible exception that these circumstances give us the unusual ability to see how dependent on God we are, or should be.
God doesn’t give us our children because we are special. He does so because HE is special!
So, how to respond in this circumstance that doesn’t wound and maybe helps instruct? How do we demonstrate confidence that “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:17) and depending on him in hard circumstances is a good thing?
I’m still working on that one, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
I love that you see my son as having inherent, God-given value; I certainly think so! But God made me just like he made you – there’s nothing unusual about me. God has promised to supply what I need, and that’s true for you as well if you cling to Jesus.
What do you think?