Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs – Day 2: Joy
Parenting is hard work, but parenting a child with special needs adds a whole new dimension. Having a child with special needs is wearying beyond imagination. The days are long, and they can be extremely difficult. Giving medications, attending therapy sessions, trying to avoid or deal with the aftermath of meltdowns, balancing the needs of your “normal” children with the never-ending demands your “special” child’s conditions require, trying to maintain a marriage and friendships, and anything else that falls on your plate takes every ounce of energy you have, and then some.
There’s no way you can keep up the pace forever. It’s so easy to launch into grumbling and complaining, but that makes things worse. Your friends start to avoid you; you find yourself snapping at your kids and bickering with your husband. People you see at church, your child’s extracurricular activities, and elsewhere in the community have quit asking how you’re doing because you have told them—freely and often. Your negativity is isolating you, and your thoughts are always dark and depressing, but you don’t know how to stop.
I’ve found the secret.
Choosing joy doesn’t mean your life has magically gotten easier. It doesn’t mean you’re not so tired you don’t know how you’re going to put one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t negate the fact that your life has not turned out anything like you planned.
But joy can change your life, even if your life doesn’t change.
When I decided to choose joy, I started by practicing daily gratitude, and it changed everything. I have begun to see the glass as half-full and not half-empty, even when circumstances stink. There is always something to be thankful for. You just have to open your eyes and heart to really see.
Think there’s nothing good in your situation? Look more closely.
During a Christmas Day ER visit with our daughter a few years ago, I realized how much choosing joy has changed me. As we were waiting for the test results and were mentally preparing for an admission, I found myself thinking thoughts like this:
- I’m glad the kids got to open their gifts before she got sick.
- I’m glad we were able to stay home as a family most of the day before we needed to come to the hospital.
- I’m thankful for friends who opened their home to our older daughter when it became clear an ER visit was needed.
- I’m glad we have some Christmas gift money to help us cover the extra expenses of this hospitalization.
When I really started thinking about what I was thinking, I couldn’t believe it. I could only attribute the change in myself to God’s work in me. And the transformation began with gratitude as a way of choosing joy.
We are surrounded by beautiful gifts:
- A child’s smile.
- A sunset.
- The flower growing through the crack in the driveway.
- Autumn leaves.
Even if you’re having trouble seeing beauty in your situation, there’s something you can be thankful for. Choose joy today and actively look for it!
(Consider memorizing Philippians 4:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to help you stay focused on choosing joy through gratitude.)
Father, it is so easy for me to complain and be negative when I’m tired and overwhelmed by the situations I face every day while taking care of my child. Please help me to choose joy and find something to be thankful for. Change my thinking as I learn to focus on joy and gratitude. I want to choose joy so that I can encourage others and point people to You as the source of my strength. Amen.
Thank you for joining me for this 10-day series of Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs. Join me tomorrow as we explore Peace!
Other posts in this series:
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Love
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Peace
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Patience
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Kindness
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Goodness
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Faithfulness
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Gentleness
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Self-Control
- Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Full Circle
If you’re looking for more great content by some amazing bloggers, please check out iHomeschool Network’s August 2013 Hopscotch!