Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. (Psalms 86:1-4 NLT)
My husband and I have the good fortune of commuting together and we enjoy listening to TED Talks to fill the time in the carpool on mornings when the caffeine has not yet gotten on board to create energy for conversations. Recently we heard Afghan war veteran Wes Moore talking about the experiences of veterans returning from war. He said he used to say to soldiers, “Thank you for your service,” because he thought it sounded right. He heard others saying it and so he did too. He came to realize as a veteran himself that what veterans really need is for someone to hear their story, to understand their experience. Per Wes, often veterans feel ignored and the message they get is that their service didn’t matter.
They feel invisible.
Sound familiar? I never thought before of the connection between veterans and special needs parents, but it is most certainly there. People say things meaning well, “What a blessing!” or “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” To them it sounds right and they feel the need to say something, but to my ears it is not all that helpful to hear. What is more helpful is the person who sees beyond behaviors to the family, sees beyond diagnosis to the people, and then takes the time hear the story. The simple request of, “Tell me about your week,” sure is much more helpful and meaningful. We don’t need a knight in shining armor to ride in and fix it. We just want someone to listen and care that what we do is hard and what we do matters.
I’ve learned in years of ministry with special needs families that when a parent asks, “Do you have some time?” that means they have a story they need to share. I used to feel the need to “fix it.” In time I learned that ,mostly, they need me to sit and listen and pray for them. That’s all. There is healing simply in telling the story and being heard. Every parent needs someone to sit in compassion with them and hear their story.
One of the things I like most about the Psalms is they are filled with reminders that God hears us. God is attentive to our prayers. God is a good listener, even when we lack the words to speak.
Blessings to you this week!
You can watch Wes Moore’s Ted Talk at: