Being a special needs parent and serving in disability ministry has changed how I approach relationships. For example, disability teaches me benefits of slowing down, and trusting deeply, including the treasure of trusting God. But I’m also reminded me that serving in disability ministry is much like serving in a mission field. We learn how relationships were meant to be lived.
If all we do is share what we have with our friends and family—or, dare I say, our ‘clique’ within our congregation!—are we just sharing with those who might be useful to us in some way? Jesus is teaching us through His parables that we shouldn’t just pick our favorites for the team, choose only our friends for a meal, or reach out in ministry only to those who the world views as having influence or who can help us financially. And that must include children and young people with special/additional needs or disabilities.
As I talked with my high school classmate, he recalled that the girls in our class weren't very nice to one girl in elementary school. He recounted how the girl was ostracized for being different. I knew exactly who he was talking about, and what had happened. I took a deep breath. "I was one of the mean girls."
When we were in the worst of the pain of parenting our child with special needs, I would have struggled to personally share how there was meaning and purpose in this journey of disability. But I now have an intimate knowledge of what it means to be helpless and broken. God has already used this young man to accomplish so much, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that God still has much more that He is going to accomplish through him.