As a special needs family, we are blessed to have friends and extended family who come alongside us and have the courage to be ALL IN when it comes to walking through difficult times with us. About a year or so ago, our special needs daughter was going through a tough time. We were trying a new medicine regiment for her, and it was not going well. There were side-effects of moodiness, agitation, and all-around poor behavior. We were staying close to home and taking care of her for long periods of time. An out-of-state friend called and said she would love to come for a visit. “What? You want to come here? You may want to reconsider the plan, girl. It’s hard here!” Days later, she was sitting in my living room. Our family enjoyed a wonderful, much needed, fun three days with her.
She writes for Pears of Promise Ministries and wrote a beautiful blog post about her decision to come anyway. Please welcome our family friend and guest blogger Dr. Lynnette Simm.
Have there been times when you were afraid/ fearful? This is obviously a rhetorical question, but what I want you to think about is what you did or didn’t do about that fear?
When I think about being fearful, a sweet memory comes to mind. It was my first trip to Oklahoma to visit with my dear friend, Kim. We had become close friends when we lived in Prosper, Texas together. Gathering daily for a walk, once we dropped off our children at school, we would talk and talk and talk as we walked.
Now there’s just one thing you need to know about Kim before we go any further. Kim has four children, all adopted from Korea. Kim and her husband, Joe, adopted each one of these children with the understanding more than one of them had some special needs. While God blessed her with four beautiful children, there were, in fact, two of the children who have life-altering special needs. Over the years, Kim and I had talked about all of our children and their needs, trials, and how we deal with the ups and downs of parenting. I felt familiar with many of her family’s challenges. Still, I had only visited with her children minimally, an hour here or there at birthday parties or little visits at her home, but nothing truly immersed. This particular visit would be a three day adventure, and I would be staying in her home.
This may not seem such a big deal, but as Kim shared with me, many parents with children who have special needs can sometimes feel apologetic if their child has behavior issues, that could be wrongly interpreted as poor parenting, such as unruly or abrasive behavior, destructive tantrums, and so on.
I want to confess that as I had agreed to come and visit, I was, in fact, afraid. Specifically, Kim shared one of her daughters was in the middle of a medicine change and dealing with side effects of moodiness and increased agitation. I wasn’t afraid of her daughter’s behavior, but rather of the uncertainty I may say something or do the wrong thing that would upset her daughter. Afraid that I may witness a meltdown. Afraid that I would witness something I couldn’t help change or fix. Also, I was fearful that our friendship would be tested, and I wouldn’t measure up as a friend who could handle, accept, or understand her special needs children.
Before the visit, Kim called me with that much-needed intel about how the children were doing, what I might expect to see, and some simple do’s and don’ts. She even asked me if I was sure I wanted to come. I was afraid, but instead of backing out of the visit, I went anyway. I wanted to love on my friend who had moved away and whom I had missed. I wanted to show her love by loving on her family the best way I could, and I prayed it would be enough.
It’s when we are most afraid that we have to lean into love. Fear is going to come, and fear will go, but LOVE is constant. So when you’re afraid, when you are most fearful of all the what if’s, make sure you look inside and remember why you’re going to do what it is you’re going to do. LOVE.
I thank God that love does not require perfection. The trip to see Kim and her family was a success. I learned a lot more about living with children who have special needs. After the trip, my friend shared she had also been afraid. She said it’s a lot to ask a friend to come alongside the chaos that can, on occasion, be her life, and that she felt so much love I was willing to take on the challenge.
So remember, when you are afraid or filled with fear, GO ANYWAY. Show love the best way you can and gather all the precious moments with your loved ones.