Church is a wonderful place, but for those of us with special needs children, it’s not always a place where we can just drop our child or adult child in a classroom and be on our way! Have you found this to be true?
We remember early in our son’s life when there were no options for a 2-10 year old who was happier crawling on the floor than doing crafts. We realized we had bigger fish to fry than figuring out what to do with him. We did “divide and conquer,” each going to a different service, while the other waited in the car with Joey or went to go back and forth to home. We just couldn’t go into the service together, and there was nowhere at church for him. He would require too much attention, and we were just too tired and involved in his care to figure out the next few steps to make attending church together work. In all fairness, we had a wonderful single male friend who offered to watch Joey in the toddlers’ class, but it was just too noisy and active for him at the time. After a trial run of a few weeks, we thanked our kind dear friend and said it wasn’t working. What a breath of fresh air it was for our friend “Tom” to make such a kind and brave offer! We will always be grateful to him.
In our lives, and in the lives of those with special needs family members, we have to decide what is important and what needs to be left alone or left behind. We have to make choices, and it’s much like cleaning a fish and deciding which parts to discard and which to keep. Sometimes a fully dressed fish is served, with head, guts and fins removed, but at other times the whole fish is retained. What becomes the meat of the matter is what matters most. We need to learn the way that works for our family, and it’s not always us who can take the reins to start a ministry when our plates are so full with the needs before us. Thus, when a church has a ministry to special needs, the thinking and the work has been taken off our plate. We can embrace the opportunities before us, which lightens our load and helps us in this journey.
We are grateful for what we see happening in churches, as they reach out to various groups that have needs. How wonderful when we know we can attend worship and our child is lovingly cared for and learning in the way he can, or simply enjoying music and people. Thank you to those who have begun this ministry in churches, and others who are getting on board. It means the world to us – to all of us!
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at www.cindiferrini.com and social media at: www.facebook.com/cindi.ferrini, www.facebook.com/UnexpectedJourney/, www.facebook.com/MyMarriageMatters/