We love our children fiercely. We would do anything to care for them and provide for all their additional needs. Though our children can feel like our whole world, there are also times it is easy to wish things were different for them. To compare them to other children and wish things came easier. To focus on their health and their weaknesses and struggles and additional needs. To feel like there’s no end to the tunnel of appointments and accommodations and needs our children will have. And we lose sight of the fact that our child is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
It has taken me years of parenting two children with special needs to stop focusing so much on their delays and differences and weaknesses and instead focus on just how uniquely and beautifully God made them.
It’s a mindset shift I’m still working on today, but one that has helped my heart immensely. It has allowed me to enjoy my children more and to be proud to be their mother. There are three ways in particular that have helped me focus on my children more like I imagine God does.
First – Focus on Your Child’s Victories
It’s so easy to see how far our child has to go to catch up with their peers. To see how slow the progress can be sometimes. But we have to be intentional to focus on the positive. To focus on each and every victory, no matter how small it may seem.
In the Genesis account of God creating the world, He said “it was good,” after everything He created. He didn’t just say “it was good,” when it was all done. We must do that too. Celebrate every milestone and every hard-fought inch in-between. After all, they are all victories and all deserve celebration.
And we shouldn’t just celebrate those developmental victories, but spiritual ones as well. When you see your child exhibiting any of the fruit of the Spirit, praise and celebrate that. When you see your child grasp a deeper understanding of God’s love for them, celebrate that.
I’m sure God is celebrating right along with us. He knows how hard our children have worked on each and every skill and He cares about the things we care about.
Reflection: What are some of the latest victories you’ve seen in your child(ren)?
Second – Focus on Your Child’s Heart
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7).
While Jesse didn’t think his youngest son looked like a king, and in fact didn’t even have David come in from tending the sheep to present to Jesse to be a future king, David’s heart was the one that God knew was right for the job.
It is easy to focus on our children’s outward appearance, their development, their health, their behaviors, and their struggles, and not on their heart. To not focus on those personality traits and strengths and gifts and passions that are unique to them. To not see the fruit of the spirit they exhibit in their lives. To not see how they give and receive love. To not see and nurture those deeper aspects of who they are that makes them so unique, so wonderful, and such a blessing to our lives.
Reflection: In what ways do you focus more on your child’s outward appearance than you do their heart? What can you do to show your child(ren) how much you love their heart?
Third – Focus on Your Child’s Gifts and Passions
In Exodus 31:1-6 God tells Moses about how He designed and gifted Bezalei. God says “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” You can sense the pride in God’s voice as He brags about Bezalei using his gifts and skills. This was the man that God had chosen to build His holy tabernacle, where God’s presence would reside.
When you have a child with special needs, it’s easy to want to focus on the areas they need to improve, rather than focus on their strengths and passions and giftings. Our children have gifts and talents that God wants us to help nurture and steward in our children.
They have something awesome to offer the kingdom of God too. And we have the honor of coming alongside them and helping them identify and use and grow their gifts and skills and passions.
Reflection: What are some of your child(ren)’s gifts and passions?
What can you do to nurture those gifts and passions?
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It’s an intentional mindset shift, choosing to focus on these aspects of our children when it can be so easy to focus on other things. But by choosing to focus on seeing our children as God does, it will help you find the beauty in the way God uniquely, fearfully, and wonderfully crafted your child(ren).
Reflection: Which of these ways do you find easiest to focus on your child(ren)?
Which ways do you want to be more intentional in focusing on your child(ren) like God does?
Written by Jenn Soehnlin