But My Family is So Different From Anyone Else’s . . .
John 9:1-3: “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
I have a friend who recently married into a blended family situation. When issues first arose with one or the other of the children, she wrote that she and her husband needed to “find our new normal.” I love that. Not only do I love it for my friend’s family, I love it for my family, and I love it for every brave, struggling Christian family out there.
Normal looks so different in every home. While there are inviolable principles of Scripture that should instruct every home that claims His Name, there are also matters of personality, personal preference, giftings, and limitations that make every family unique.
That is why we offer each other grace in the matter of our families and don’t elevate personal preferences into issues on which we judge other people.
Our family’s uniquenesses can almost fill the fingers of one hand:
I, the mama, was an active duty naval officer up until our son was a year old.
My husband is from overseas.
Our son, an only child, has high functioning autism (Aspergers syndrome).
I celebrated my 50th birthday by rejoicing that I could keep a cookie down four days after my first chemotherapy session for breast cancer.
Though I know plenty of other families in each of those categories, we are the only one I know that is in all four of them. Each person reading this could make a similar list of four facts that, combined together, make his or her family totally unique.
Sometimes the uniquenesses in our families can become a matter of comparison with other people, particularly if they involve someone with limitations. Those comparisons are always unwise, as the Bible reminds us in II Corinthians10:12 (“”they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”).
I remember many years while our son was young that it was hard for me to relate to some of the mothers in groups I attended because I seemed to be missing so many of their skills with cooking, decorating, and just plain making a house a home. I didn’t so much feel sad about the extra challenges posed by raising our son (I have always said that, given a list of characteristics and a chance to order my child from a catalog, I would have ordered the exact same child I got). But what I did feel sad about was that my day had only twenty-four hours so, in choosing the things that were right for our son, I chose to not pursue a lot of the interests of my peers. Not in that season of life (but I have rich, rewarding interests in all of those things now).
During those years, I found the John 9 passage, above, and clung to it as to a life raft. God said it wasn’t my fault or my husband’s fault or our son’s fault or anyone else’s fault that our son had to struggle with learning basic self-help skills when he was young. God said it was no one’s fault that our son has a hard time figuring out how to appropriately give-and-take in a conversation with one of his peers. God said that the reason our son was born with difficulty regulating himself emotionally is that God Himself might be glorified in the growth our son exhibits (and maybe in the growth we exhibit through parenting him). It’s all win, folks. God designed a challenge for us before He ever created the world. We would be allowed to raise a child whose very accomplishments, hard won, would bring glory to God.
That said, almost every parent has something (or someone) that falls into this category. Special needs are concentrated in certain individuals, but we almost all have a few of them. I believe special needs are one of God’s reminders to us to extend grace to others (because we all have areas where we need others to do the same for us). In this all, we grow together and God is glorified.
Your family is unique, by God’s design. You have challenges I will never face, but God intends to lead you to victory through them. They are your new normal! Give Him free reign to make you, and your familymembers, into what He created them to be.