Over the last 9 years, as we have lived as ex-pats in Abu Dhabi, I have often thought of the words of Alice in Wonderland, “Curiouser and curiouser.”

Yes, Alice, I can relate. Like Wonderland, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is a place with many curiosities!

One example came in April 2017, when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai announced that people with disabilities would be no longer be referred to as having special needs. Instead, they would be given the noble title of People of Determination.

This has prompted much discussion. Does the attribute of determination automatically follow a disability? Or does the attitude we take towards our struggles play a part? One thing is for sure; special needs or disabilities have plenty opportunities to become people of determination, as do their caregivers and families!

My daughter was born with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) which meant she was totally unable to swallow.

Her operation at 3 days old was a success, but that does not mean that the following years were free of any pain and suffering associated with her condition. Both for her, and for our family, the condition took its toll in many and varied ways. If anyone is out there who sits with a child through the small hours of the night fighting the debilitating TEF cough, our family can relate. Or if anyone is reading this whose toddler can only manage one liquified teaspoonful of soup every 5 minutes, so that the whole day is reduced to one long, mundane meal, I know what you’re going through.

We all  have our own personal experiences of suffering. But whatever we are going through, this poem by Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of Ravensbrück concentration camp can help us see life’s big picture:

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Who of us would choose to be a person of determination? Probably not many.
But who has been chosen? Perhaps we all have.
Who will accept the challenge to allow God to weave something beautiful through the struggles?

That’s the way to become true people of determination. Let’s do it.

Maggie is a wife and mother of two daughters. She is a primary school teacher, having worked in Africa for 14 years before moving to the Middle East. Her passions are her animals and art. Her youngest daughter was born with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). This birth condition was to be the start of an arduous journey, impacting the whole family for several years. Through writing, she hope to turn her experiences into encouragement for others on similar paths.





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