Our pastor recently preached a sermon on marriage, showing a video which encouraged weekly date nights. Frankly, the video made me sad as I watched it—we have never had a chance to go on carefree dates for the majority of our married life. Having a child with special needs precludes that luxury.
But then as I started to rehearse in my mind those times when people have given generously and graciously of themselves, putting their fears aside, to allow us time alone as a couple, I was filled with gratitude. Remembering God’s goodness and faithfulness helped to push out the pity party that was setting up in my soul.
These are some of my Joshua 4 “stones of remembrance”:
- My mom fixing us a delicious candlelight dinner to eat downstairs alone while she held our son and prayed over him after we first brought him home from the hospital, monitors and all.
- My mom giving us money ($60 for 1-hour nursing care in 1990) to hire a nurse to babysit while we went out to Chinese food one block away with a borrowed pager on the table. And as we returned home the nurse turned down our money, so we could have another date.
- My parents taking our son across the street for ice cream while we used a gift card we’d been given to a fancy restaurant.
- The friend who blessed us with a night at her Bed & Breakfast, and the young newlywed who watched our son for 12 hours, so we could take advantage of it.
- The sweet young lady from Texas flying out to take care of our son, only to learn upon arrival that his care was a bit more than she had imagined. She jumped in anyway, so we could get away on our first trip together since he’d been born 23 years earlier.
- The team of friends committing to watch our son for a few hours twice a month, so we could start having regular dates (most of these friends were from a church we had not yet started attending, now our church home).
- And now that we have a full-time, state-funded caregiver for our son, the kind friends who didn’t blink an eye when I asked them to keep our daughter for the weekend. They were seemingly unfazed by the “what ifs” of her medical condition, allowing us the opportunity for our second getaway trip after 30 years of marriage.
Sure, I’m sad at times that we’ve lived a life we never expected, and the normalcy and ease of the date nights that the video advocated wasn’t something to which I could relate. But oh, how good our God is to have preserved our marriage through all the struggles and suffering that go along with special needs parenting. It was a good thing to rehearse his grace in abundance to us. The infrequency of our date nights makes them all the more exquisite and special when they do occur. We are blessed.
And you know what? We’ve come to learn that a table for 3 isn’t that far from a date, anyway.