Once upon a time, two dads of children with special needs were walking down the road together. Both of them were raising children who had been diagnosed just a few years ago.
Neither one said very much at first, as they walked along in silence. Both were, in effect, still reeling, still trying to sort out this new life, and still trying to navigate this road for special-needs dads.
Both of the dads had quite bit of pent up anger, confusion, and despair. Both were just now realizing that this new upside-down world was going to force them to lay down some dreams, goals, and plans they had for their lives.
Both were also still grieving, still struggling, and still searching for answers. Both felt lost, overwhelmed, and ill equipped for the journey.
The path of raising a child with special needs takes many twists, many turns, and covers some tough terrain.
As they went further down the path, all of a sudden right in front of them, the trail diverged into two distinct paths. One path veered off to the right, the other took a hard left. The path to the right was marked, “How” while the path to the left was marked, “Why.”
The men shook hands, separated, and one man took the right path to “How”. The other man chose to go to the left and down the path to “Why.”
The second man soon entered a little village at the end of the path where it dead-ended and saw a sign welcoming him to “Why.” Soon he settled in with the rest of the clan and became a “Why” person” himself.
“Why” people spend their lives wondering why everything in their lives happened. Why am I struggling with this? Why did that happen? What did I do to deserve this? They always feel victimized or as if someone is to be blamed. He never found the answers to his questions and so he lived forever in anger, denial, and bitterness. He spent the rest of his life circling around the questions, and soon, he lost his way out of “Why.”
In this journey raising a child with special needs, the road to understanding “Why” is a dead-end road. You will wander aimlessly in circles instead of climbing out of the emotional pit.
The “Why” man died emotionally, relationally, and spiritually, well before his time came. And when his death did come, he died having never having found the answers he was looking for the whole time. He died the same way he had lived- bitter, angry, and sad. His tombstone was engraved, “Here lies another vacant dad.”
The man who chose the right path soon found himself entering into the land of “How” people. He made the great decision to become a “How” person himself.
The pivotal choice is to choose to be a “How” person. “How” people respond to their challenges and trials by asking, “How can goodness come out of this situation? How can God redeem this and use it for his purposes? How can God be glorified by my response here? How can I rise above this?”
That shift in perspective changes everything in this life. Now, everything made sense to him. He realized God was telling his story through his life and his son’s life. This was not to be his story, but rather God’s story.
Through the telling of his story, God would teach him us about unconditional love, the abundance of grace, the essence of a gift, and the meaning of a selfless life.
He learned that his joy was not dependent upon his circumstances. God had chosen him for this and called him with a plan and purpose for my life. His joy was dependent on where he was with Christ. He quickly recognized that if he tried to place his joy in anything other than his relationship and standing with Christ, he would never find everlasting, unstoppable, un-quenching joy.
The “How” man lived happily ever after with his special-needs family. His life still had challenges, but he found contentment and joy with his journey. He believed he had been chosen and called, and he remained committed.
Two paths diverge in the woods. Which one will you choose?