Tag Archives: spectrum

Cords That Cannot Be Broken

 Strand by TCJ2020 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I tried to connect with another parent raising a child with special needs, but she compared her child to mine. She said I can’t understand what she goes through. My situation isn’t as challenging as hers because my child ‘just has …’.”

Q&A time after a presentation is always interesting, but this recent statement… Wow!  I spoke at a Mother’s retreat and this mom’s comment caught me by surprise in some ways, but also resonated in others.

I’ve led support groups for years and find parents connect on a variety of levels.  Though their journeys and diagnoses of special needs may be very different, parents have a variety of common experiences: grief and guilt, anxiety about the future, coping with school plans, and more. As parents bond and connect, they can see past the differences in diagnoses to their shared challenges in parenting.   Time and again I’ve heard parents marvel at how connected they feel despite the fact that the diagnosis within their families are so varied.

Yet I have also heard comments like the one the mom shared at the retreat.  My son is on the autism spectrum and when he was entering high school another parent of a child with autism told me that I didn’t know what it was like for her because my son was older then and didn’t have the same expression of autism as hers. True, on some levels. Though my son was not born “older,” one can never know the exact experience of another person.    There is a saying, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” It is a spectrum with a variety of expressions as unique and individual as fingerprints.  But it doesn’t mean that the differences in the expression of that spectrum renders parents incapable of hearing each other’s stories and helping each other in the midst of hard times. If we limit ourselves to only connecting with parents on exactly the same path as our own, it is going to be a very small circle of understanding and support.

It is possible to care and connect even if our life circumstances are different.  We do that all of the time.  Recently we’ve experienced torrential rain in my hometown.  I’ve received phone calls, text messages, and social media connections from across the country from friends checking in to see if my family is okay.  I suppose I could respond by saying, “If you’ve not had multiple inches of rain in a short period of time day after day you can be no help to me.” The truth is that you don’t have to experience a flood of epic proportion in your home town to be able to understand that it is frightening, creating rising anxiety to match the rising waters.

Genuine empathy and compassion are not necessarily born of having lived the exact circumstance, rather they are born of caring and friendship. One of the healthiest things parents can do for themselves is to connect with others in mutually supportive relationships.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, the author writes poignantly of the importance of relationships.

And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one.  A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 NRSV

Sure, we can stand against adversity and challenges on our own, but it is so much easier to share the journey. Community and support are a gift, even when they come from unexpected places.

Holy God, bind us together, Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken. Bind us together, Lord, bind us together with love. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Prayer by Bob Gillman

Image “Strand” by TCJ2020 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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I Have A Dream, Too

Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_Washington

Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.(Joel 2:28 NRS)

Four iconic words ring the air today. They are woven into the fabric of our nation even as they help us celebrate the life, vision and ministry of a man gone too soon.

“I have a dream …”

Standing up for justice and creating social change is hard.  It takes vision and determination. It takes breaking down walls and stereotypes and creating in their place dialogue and relationships. It takes embracing a dream and working diligently with others to make it a reality. It also takes time. Lots of time.

Thinking of Dr. King, he has inspired a nation and set in motion a movement that continues beyond his years.  He alsp left as his legacy a model for change.

Listening to his speech once more makes me realize that I have a dream, too.

I have a dream that all children, on or off the spectrum, with or without a genetic difference, with or without typical body, will have friends. I have a dream that bullying will end and understanding will take its place. I have a dream that child and adult alike will be accommodated for their differences out of a sense of equality and compassion. I have a dream that everyone who wants to be part of a church will find ministries ready to receive them.  I have a dream that no parent will feel alone on the journey with special needs.  I have a dream that all families, whatever their shape and size, will grow in resilience rather than being torn apart by disability. I have a dream that communities full of understanding will offer refuge, hope and healing for the heart and soul.

My dream keeps me up late at night and prompts me out of bed early in the morning. My dream makes “good enough” not an option. My dream leaves me exhausted and stretched too thin at times, but filled with joy and hope as well. My dream connects me with others who share my vision for social change in the area of special needs and work toward it diligently. My dream keeps me grounded in God’s path for me and guides what I do every day.

I will never be the leader Dr. King was, but he inspires me with what is possible. I too have a role to play in making the collective dreams of many families living with disability become reality. We all do.

When you dream of the future, what do you see?  How are you helping that dream come a step closer day by day?

God of our visions, thank you for directing us to better live as your people. Help us to always strive for your justice. Create for us a dream for the world as you would have it and inspire us to follow your vision. Amen.

 

“Martin Luther King – March on Washington” by Unknown? – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier) 542069. Public Domain.