Laying Down The Life I Expected

In the beginning I thought I would never get the hang of this chronic life I live. The list of what my daughter “needed” to be successful was never ending (is never ending) and I was an expert at beating myself up over not being enough to get it all done. I jokingly refer to myself as her personal assistant, but if you have a kiddo with special needs you know that isn’t a joke. 

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In so many ways I was resentful that I now had to submit to this life I didn’t really choose. Sure, I chose to have kids, but if I’m really honest this isn’t what I thought I was signing up for.

I LOVE my daughter, and I WANT her. But I don’t really love the extra hard that comes with a chronic disability and special needs. 

I was years into our journey before I understood there is a difference between SUBMISSION and SURRENDER. And in so many special needs journeys that I see, people are stuck in a place of submission instead of landing in a place of surrender. 

Submission for me is hard. It feels like I’m being shoved in a direction against my will, and as hard as I might try there is a reality that I am not strong enough to run the other way. And the moment I get used to the idea that in a specific area I am not going to get my way or “fix” her. A NEW area pops up. It’s never ending. You get the point. I don’t like submission. 


But surrender is different. In surrendering I get to CHOOSE to lay down the life I expected to have and then fully step into the life I actually do have. It has a choice involved. 

Often these things come in sequence. We are forced to submit to our circumstances, but in order to move into a healthy place we must choose to surrender to them. Let me clarify, surrendering doesn’t not mean to give up. It just means to stop fighting against.  We can do this in both practical and spiritual ways. 


  1. Understanding that you and God are on the same team. That this is NOT what God had for us. He created us to live in community with Him, but also gave us free will and Man chose sin. And thus we live in a broken world. And God is every bit as sad about it as we are. Having the realization that in my sadness as a mother God himself was also heartbroken has become an extremely comforting thing to me.  

  2.  Giving yourself a break. While I wish I was talking about a long restorative trip to Hawaii, what I mean is stopping the negative self-talk. You are one person, and you cannot possibly provide every need for your child. And you really can’t for a child with special needs. Having grace for our missed steps is vital.  

  3. When you feel the tension rise, that familiar “kicking and screaming” or “this really isn’t fair”, PAUSE and consider, “How would it change things if instead of pushing those feelings off or stuffing them down you stepped into them and felt them?” And then you stood in that discomfort and made a plan. Not a plan to get you out of the situation, but a plan to help you thrive within it. 

Thriving within our life situation  is all about the tools with which we equip ourselves, the God who never leaves our side and the mindset we choose to live out of.

Written by Laurisa Ballew


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Laurisa Ballew is a nurse by trade and mother to a special needs child by fate. She fiercely believes hope and grief walk hand in hand in life, and that storytelling is the universal language that connects us all.  Laurisa has three daughters and writes about the constant humility of parenting in her blog Raising A Sisterhood