Additional/Special Needs Parents: Worriers Or Warriors?

Those of us that care for children and young people with additional/special needs, whether as parents/carers, children’s and youth workers, or in other professional roles, become good at expecting the unexpected, anticipating the unpredictable, and dealing with unsurprising surprises!

Life is different, no two days are the same, and we get to ride on a rollercoaster of emotional, physical and spiritual demands that can be both exhilarating and exhausting!  I do believe, however, that there are two distinct ‘camps’ that we can often find ourselves in, especially as parents/carers….  Two camps that are very different indeed, one being a much better and healthier place to be than the other, and that by thinking about them more we can learn to spend more time in the healthier camp than the unhealthy one. The two ‘camps’ are ‘Worriers’ and ‘Warriors’, and we’ll have a look at both including what God might be saying to us about this too.

Worriers
Now we’re not talking about right levels of concern for our child here, that is entirely appropriate and we would be irresponsible not to worry a little.  I’m talking about the gut wrenching worrying about things that keeps us awake all night, stops us from eating, causes us to have that permanent careworn look about us where we’re so exhausted from worry that we are taking very little care of ourselves, if any at all.

I’m sure many of us have been there, maybe you are there right now, overwhelmed by worry and not knowing what is going to happen next.

Jesus told us not to worry, but to focus on the things of God and let him help us, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27, NIV, see full passage at the end of this blog post).

In Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, he encourages us not to worry, but to pray, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)

And of course both of them are right; both make very important points.  It’s true that worrying achieves nothing, it’s also true that prayer achieves much, including that peace that Paul writes about.  You may think that this is much easier to say than to do, and sometimes it is, but doing something that might initially feel harder but is positive and fruitful (prayer) is so much better than doing something that comes very easily but that is destructive and unfruitful (worrying).

But both Jesus and Paul don’t tell us just to be passive prayers though, but to be thankful for what God has done and to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.  We’re called not to be worriers, but to be warriors!

Warriors
If worrying achieves nothing, being a warrior can achieve so much more.  Taking action spiritually, emotionally and physically can transform our situation, and be of much more help to our child too.

A passage often used to encourage those of us that are struggling are these words from Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)  But note that Jesus isn’t saying that he will do everything!  He says that being yoked with him means we can learn from him, that he will shoulder much of the load, but we will still have some of it to bear ourselves (my burden is light)!

Troubles will still come, but instead of worrying, we can have confidence in the words of Jesus when he said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33)

And as James wrote, when troubles do come we can face them with renewed strength and perseverance, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4)

Whenever those worries come to us, often in the night, it is good to remind ourselves that we are in a spiritual battle, but that we are on the winning side!  Remember Elisha’s servant, who having been worrying all night got up early in the morning to look out over what he most feared, the enemy forces…

“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.  “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered.  “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”  Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  (2 Kings 6:15-17)

“Those that are with us are more than those who are with them…”  The servant could no more change the situation that he was in by worrying than we can, but through prayer his eyes were opened so he could see they were not alone!  And it is the same for us, if we trust, believe, and pray.  We do not stand alone, the burden is not ours alone, we do not fight alone, for we are yoked with Christ himself, and as Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

So, let us not be unhealthy worriers, but let us be confident, victorious warriors, standing and fighting for the kingdom, for God’s righteousness, and for our children, as we face the world and all it tries to throw at us knowing we do not stand alone, but that we are yoked with Jesus Christ himself and with the victorious army of God at our side!

May God’s blessings and strength be with you and yours this day, and may his peace and rest be with you this night.

Mark Arnold
31stMay 2018

Matthew 6:25-34:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Most passages used in this blog post:
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Philippians 4:6-7 passage:
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Image rights: unknown

See also:  ‘Additional Needs Parents; Disrupted, Resilient, Vulnerable, Broken, Loving’  https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.com/2018/05/11/additional-needs-parents-disrupted-resilient-vulnerable-broken-loving/

See also:  ‘Are Additional/Special Needs Families More Likely To Break Apart?’  https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.com/2018/05/24/are-additional-special-needs-families-more-likely-to-break-apart/

 

 

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