advocate:verb1. To speak or write in favor ofto advocate for higher salaries2. To act as an advocatea father who advocates for his child with disabilitiesnoun3. A person who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something4. A person who pleads for or on behalf of another“UNABLE TO” These words are from a note we received regarding our child. They were repeated three times. Unable. I would bet you’ve received something similar at one time or another. Heart crushing. Some days I just want to stick my head in the hole rather than confront it. Maybe it will go away, ya’ think? I get tired of constantly having to advocate. Thankfully, we have someone who goes before us. We have our Advocate who goes with us. We don’t go in this alone.
To some, our children will always be “Unable.” I would never wish some of our struggles on another person. But for one day, sometimes I wish others could be on the receiving end of these notes. Teachers on the other end of their IEP. The doctors on the other side of the desk, or hospital bedside, hearing those sharp words without compassion. I wish they could feel those sinking, gut-punch feelings for just one day.
Those with the mindset that our children will always be “unable” may find them “unable” under their direction. Where there is no hope, the people are gonna perish, right? (Prov.29:18) I know, I’m verrrry loosely translating here. But I think the general idea still applies. I want some positive thinkers investing in my children, right? It is a hard truth that our children may plateau, have extreme uphill battles or always be their very unique kind of normal. But that doesn’t mean I want them surrounded by people who are Debbie-downers.
Have you seen the new TV show, Speechless? It’s about a family that includes disability. Mom, Minnie Driver, is known for her outspoken way of advocating for her son. I kept thinking while watching the pilot episode that I wished I had her voice. Not Minnie’s fabulous English accent, well yeah, that too. But, I longed for her candid advocating voice. She’s bold. She knows her son’s rights. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind to get those rights met. Wait for it … and then the show goes on to make jokes about the wake this mom leaves behind her while ‘advocating.’ Darn it! She makes people scared, mad, irritated, nervous. I could go on. Is this really the advocating voice I want? How will anyone ever see Jesus in me if they are mad, irritated and nervous around me?
We have our own advocate. A high priest (Heb.8:1-2) who goes before us on our behalf. Jesus has sent me yet another advocate. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever -” (John14:16) I am not alone in this advocating world. Sometimes I let my mouth go before God. (I’m sorry about that teachers, doctors, nurses and … well, you know who you are.) I am working on letting God advocate for me and with me. That doesn’t mean I stop advocating. It means I let God go with me when I advocate. I stop doing it alone.
That “Unable” report? I let it go for a bit. I knew needed to calm down and get my words in order. So I prayed.A couple of weeks later this became a favorite of my child’s. It’s still work. But I am seeing God moving in it without my “type-type-type-grrrrr! SEND!!!” email.
Before I advocate, I’m working on going to my own Advocate first.