How to find joy in every season of the special needs parenting journey is a challenge for all of us. Different Dream guest blogger, Jenn Soehnlin encourages parents to intentionally seek and find joy even with the hard bits of parenting all around.

How to Find Joy in Every Season of Your Special Needs Parenting Journey

After a long, dark, and snowy winter, I’m excited to see signs of spring all around me. New buds and blossoms and leaves unfurling. Birds chirping and building their nests. And yes, some rain too, all which bring hope of new life and sunnier days.

There is something beautiful about each and every season, though we always have a favorite (or two).

Life itself has many seasons. I’m reminded of the wise Solomon, who in Ecclesiastes 3 said:

“There is a time for everything,
And a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.”

This special needs parenting journey is full of seasons. Seasons where we are overwhelmed with grief or anxiety, and seasons where we experience hope and joy. Seasons of stress and never ending appointments, and seasons where we choose to cut back on some obligations and find more rest for ourselves and our families. Seasons where we see our child make no or very little progress, and other seasons where we watch our child flourish in a certain area or several.

Seasons have a purpose

There is a purpose and reason for every season. Our challenging life circumstances may make us feel we’re in an endless winter, but we always have hope that God will use our season and that spring will come. Yes, there’s challenges in every season. Even in the much awaited spring, we experience those April showers which bring May flowers. But there’s always hope and God’s love and His purpose in every season.

I remember a season where I was overwhelmed with the endless therapies and specialists and calls to insurance for my two young boys and I felt it was never going to end. I struggled with alternating bouts of anxiety and depression. But now, the boys are getting a lot of the therapies and support they need at school and I’m finding myself in a season where though we still have plenty of challenges, I have more breathing room. And when I asked God what He wanted me to learn from that season of stress and anxiety and grief, He told me to write about my experiences to encourage other special needs parents in the same place. It wasn’t what I expected or planned of my life, but God has a plan and a purpose for every season, especially our hardest ones, and we may not see it all when we’re in the middle of it, but God will not let it go to waste. He is growing you. Teaching you. And He will use you because of what you are learning in your current season.

A new season unfolds slowly, reminding us that we aren’t supposed to rush ahead to the next season (as much as we may want to) and miss all the blessings and the purpose God has for us right now. But a new season will come, and bring with it a new life, hope, and purpose for you and your family.

Seasons are to be savored

I love that God Himself gives us permission to sit in our season without guilt. We are allowed a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to embrace and to refrain from embracing. A time to keep and to release. God is doing something in our lives in every season. There is always something to be grateful for. We cannot always control the circumstances in our seasons, but we can control our perspective and our response to our season. We can choose to see the good, the beauty, the blessings in each and every day.

I find the beginning of each new weather season a beautiful time to take some time to evaluate our lives and what I want out of the upcoming season. I encourage you to take a little time to:

  • Make a list of things you are grateful for in your current season.
  • Evaluate what goals you want to set for yourself, your family, and your children in this upcoming season.  
  • Evaluate what things you need to let go of in your life to find a healthier season for you and your family. What things can you remove from your to-do list so that you and your family have more time to rest, to enjoy life and each other? What things are you carrying that God wants you to let go of?
  • Evaluate what things you need to embrace in your life so you can experience all that God has for you and your family in your current season. What good things has God given you that you want to be more intentional about enjoying?
  • Evaluate what life-giving things you can incorporate into the season you are in so you can live fully present.

Contemplate these things with God, with your spouse or a good friend, and/or in a journal. Your mindset is powerful and a major contributing factor into what will help you step into and savor a season of growth and new life and purpose.
Bio: Jenn Soehnlin is a mother to two young sons who are precious blessings and who both have special needs. Her heart is to share encouragement and God’s truths with moms who are also traveling the special needs parenting journey. She is the author of Embracing This Special Life: Learning to Flourish as a Mother of a Child with Special Needs. She enjoys blogging about faith and special needs parenting at www.embracing.life.