When I became a special needs mom, I anticipated a very new reality for our lives. While we were somewhat prepared for wheelchairs, hospitalizations, countless appointments, and a long list of diagnoses… what I wasn’t expecting was how much suffering there would be. Mixing together a complex medical child and the reality of being non-verbal can be one of the most challenging puzzles to figure out. At times it was obvious what the signs and symptoms were telling us; other times, not so much.
I often found myself at the bedside of my daughter feeling completely and utterly helpless. It’s a parent’s natural inclination to fix problems. Yet, so many times in the life of disabilities there is no “fix.” Earlier this year, our daughter’s bad days grew in frequency and eventually we discovered during an ER visit that her hip was completely dislocated. Her body would thrash from the pain for hours at a time and my heart would grow so weary. As the days turned into weeks I knew I couldn’t keep going on like this. I struggled to understand the purpose of such suffering … especially in a child that couldn’t help herself. So many of my tears fell on her frail body in those weeks leading up to her surgery. That season felt pretty dark, yet through it all God showed Himself faithful.
As I tried to understand my purpose, the truth that resonated with me and brought me comfort was that Jesus knew all about being with those who are suffering. He showed me that His grace would be enough for each day. I needed to lean into Him and let Him be our strength in my weakness. As I gave my daughter pain medications around the clock, I looked to Him to ease the pain of my broken momma heart. So many days I couldn’t fix her ailments with my laboring hands, but I could grip on to His grace and it was that grace that got us through.
There’s been more suffering since that time. I don’t understand why she has to struggle so much in this life, but I have seen her life transform our entire family. She has taught us the simple joys found in the gift of a comfortable day, a smile, and the fresh air on our face. Just as my daughter’s weakness is never a burden for me, I now realize that my weakness is not a burden for my Heavenly Father. His grace is limitless and it’s ours for the taking.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
–2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Shelly Roberts is a dedicated wife and mom to 8 kids from around the globe (3 grown & 5 at home). With God in control, Shelly’s family has experienced twists and turns that have made for an inspiring story Serving in foster care brought the new dimension of disabilities to her family, transforming their hearts to welcome these children as daughter and son and advocate for vulnerable children. Shelly understands the unique dynamics of a family that has complex-needs kids and desires to encourage and lead other families to the One who is bigger than our circumstances. Whether camping out in a hospital room or at home enjoying time with a grandbaby, she’s learned to find joy in the moment and to trust His grace for each season.