A Special Needs City on a Hill

There’s a post going around Facebook; it’s the “Have You Ever …” version for special needs parents. It’s a mixed list of “Have you ever … Diffused a Meltdown or had to <insert whatever> for your child.” I reposted it because I thought there was a little community in it. Some, “Hey, you aren’t alone!” Most people responded by saying they had done all but three, maybe two. We’ve done them all. All nineteen on the list we have experienced to some extent. My husband said, “WE WIN! What’s our prize?!” Special needs and all that comes with it gives us community, the ‘I get it’ with each other. But ‘have you ever’ considered just maybe we are not only our own little community but a special needs city, a Special Needs City on a Hill?

I posted this list after a night of sickness in our house. Sickness from our guy who has special needs and an ongoing disease that’s causing side effects of daily sickness. All day, every day. One of our other children has had that run of the mill stomach virus that just won’t leave. Just when we, and he, thought it was gone, nope. He took a flying run down the hallway to get to the bathroom and almost made it there. Almost. And then there is the dog. Yes, the dog. Even she is now in on the fun. Aging doggies who leave piles of ick? Makes you want to run right over and visit us, right? Bring your hazmat suit.

There is community in our special needs world that others may not ever understand. We go to bed nights whooped with the thoughts that others, even those closest to us, have absolutely no idea what goes on in between these walls. We rarely venture out of them because who wants clean up on aisle five?

We aren’t pretty when we go out. It takes planning. Do you have the medical bag, extra IV fluids, things for those emergency bathroom moments? Extra everything, actually. Just getting in and out of the car takes planning, more than one person to help, making sure all the tubes and cords aren’t caught on anything. It’s an orchestrated event. After all this planning, my introverted self would stay home nine times out of ten if given the choice. Community is hard. This little light of mine? Hide my light under a bushel, please.

But what happens when we do go out? What happens when we leave the comfort zone of our little world? What about the community of people who aren’t on the list of “Have you Evers?” What are we, and they, missing when we don’t shove ourselves out there? We’ve been called to be a city on a hill, a light that cannot be hidden. I don’t know about you, but when we go out, there is no hiding us. We are ob-vi-ous.

I will tell anyone and everyone, “I’m fine.” Even when everyone and the dog is puking their guts up. Maybe what the community needs to know is we aren’t fine. We are struggling over here. We have done every single thing on the “Have You Ever?” list and we need you to come to us. We can’t go anywhere. Please come here. And just know it isn’t pretty. Hold a puke bucket. Get messy with us.

Matthew 5:14-16 is the verse about being a city on a hill, a light that brightens the whole house. I love how The Voice’s version goes on to say, ” so men and women … may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to me, and may turn and praise your Father in Heaven because of it.”

Maybe we go there. Maybe they come here. Either way, we are a City. We have a special needs community with each other already. We know what each other is going through. We get it. I see you on that “Have You Ever?” list. But do they? I’m becoming okay with being different. (Finally, it’s only been how many years?) We’ve been made different, a Special Needs City, and we shine bright. Shine so others may see creation at its fullest. Shine so others may see our devotion to our Father in Heaven. Shine so others may turn and give praise to Him because of it.

Don’t worry, we will make sure the stomach virus is well gone before we come your way, World.

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Adoption Month. We Live it Everyday.

It’s National Adoption Month. Normally, this month’s celebration goes by with little hoorah. Only those who have adopted bring it to the attention of others. We change our Facebook profiles to show we are pro-adoption. We tweet to the masses all the adoption blogposts. We retweet, repost and tell anyone who will listen about what the Chapman’s are doing. You know, THE Chapman’s. Steven Curtis and Mary Beth. Anyone who is a Christian and who has adopted is in the know about the Chapman’s. Just me? This month. It’s our little way of reminding everyone that adoption may have been a one time thing for most of us. But adoption, we live it everyday in our house.

Adoption isn’t a one time thing and life goes on normally. Adoption happens everyday in our house. It comes back in questions, in trauma, in the giggles, interests, and in the face of our child and in our lives everyday. We are reminded of this responsibility that we begged God to have. We are reminded when we meet the eyes of people who do not understand trauma one bit. And I don’t mean the everyday person; I’m talking about educators, physicians, people who we expected to support this journey yet are so blind to the needs of adoption. Adoption is an everyday battle to be won for our child.

But isn’t that just how Jesus does adoption? It’s how he adopted all of us into his fold. He sees us at the heart just like we see our child. We continue to question him daily about this road he had adopted us into. He sees all of our trauma and baggage we brought along with us and did not leave at the alter when we said yes to him. When we say, ‘No one understands me and what I am going through.’ He does. When everyone, even the most educated do not understand our hurts, our needs, the one who adopted us sees. Jesus didn’t just adopt us on day one and leave us to the wolves. He sees us and fights for us everyday. And he sees the needs of our children.

National Adoption Month. It’s in the news this year because of congress and the cuts that may or may not be made. You can bet I am on the side of keeping those tax benefits because this adoption stuff isn’t a one time thing. Yay, it’s Gotcha Day and it’s done! Nope. Gotcha Day happens everyday. We gotcha every single day and all that comes with this adoption. The joy (Oh, the joy!). The trauma (Yeah, trauma.). Adoption means one of us now; to make one’s own. Jesus made us one of his, everyday. And our child’s adoption is no different: this month, every month, everyday is Adoption Month in our house.