Learning to Embrace a Special Life

by Apr 13, 2021Grief, Spiritual Support, Uncategorized28 comments

For parents of kids with disabilities, learning to embrace a special life is important but not easy. These 4 empowering practices can help.

Learning to embrace a special life as the parent of a child with a disability is a journey. New guest blogger, Kristin Evans, describes the spiritual crisis that brought her to acceptance and shares 4 practices that bring her joy and peace.

Beginning My Unexpected Journey

As long as I could remember, I had believed in God and trusted Him. Nothing could shake my faith—or so I believed. We thought we had it all. My husband, Todd, was in his third year of serving as the Director of Youth Ministries, our son’s health and developmental progress were stabilizing with his extremely rare genetic disorder, and we had just discovered that I was pregnant with our second child. We felt so blessed by God. Then, I would begin a journey that took me through a nightmare pregnancy and delivery; learning that our daughter, Bethany Grace, had sporadically developed a more-severe genetic disorder called Cri du Chat Syndrome; three months in the NICU; the continual battle to save both of our children’s lives; then my dark crisis of faith and long war with severe depression and anxiety.

Obsessing with Finding Answers

Shortly after Bethany Grace’s homecoming from the NICU, I become overwhelmed by the stress, anxiety, grief, and guilt. I spiraled into a deep pit of depression and began to walk through a dark, terrifying wilderness of spiritual anguish. Doubt. Anger. Disillusionment. My life-long faith that I had naively believed was unshakable had easily shattered. I was desperate to understand and find answers that made sense to me. How could God be sovereign and benevolent, and at the same time allow my daughter and son to suffer like this? Why is he letting all this happen to our family?

The more I questioned, the further I distanced myself from God, and the more powerful the grip of depression grew. “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’” (Psalms 31:14, ESV). I could no longer bring myself to utter this prayer. I found myself not even wanting to go to church anymore.

Discovering What Faith Is to Me

Sitting on my therapist’s couch, her questions helped me realize that I had a choice to make. I could continue to fight reality and be angry with God, trudging on through each day miserable; or I could release the need to find answers or understand. Two days later, I found myself hiking through the woods where I came upon a shimmering lake. The colors reflecting off the boulders created a magnificent scene. How could God create something so good and beautiful but allow darkness and pain? Then it hit me—Is this what faith is? I don’t understand how God could be good and have allowed our family to endure all of this suffering, but I let go of the need to know. I embrace the mystery of faith. “I trust you, God.” I finally began to understand and discover deep meaning and purpose in my life. I began Learning to embrace a special life, to be free to sing a new and joyful song throughout my days. Now, I am not saying that when I grew in my trust in God that my depression resolved on its own. I still had to work very hard in therapy. But letting go of the need for answers freed my soul and lightened my heart which helped me in my recovery from depression. I also began to depend on God on my journey to wholeness and healing.

So, how does learning to embrace a special life cultivate joy each day?

I have found that sometimes experiencing joy takes making a choice, despite how difficult and painful my circumstances are that day. These four practices have helped me live in a more joyful mood throughout most days:

  1. Living in gratitude for each new day (even if I can only find one thing to be thankful for)
  2. Trusting God’s good promises to me in Scripture
  3. Remembering all the times that God has helped my family and blessed us
  4. Fully enjoying the little moments

I hope that you, too, are learning to embrace a special life in deeper ways and find joy on your unique journey.

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By Kristin Evans

Kristin lives with her husband, Todd, and their two children in the Nashville, TN area. As an author and mental health therapist, her greatest passion is walking with others on their journey to deeper emotional, psychological, and spiritual wholeness. As both her children have rare genetic disorders, Kristin especially loves supporting other parents of children with special needs. She hopes that you may find encouragement and support through her two websites and blogs, www.SpecialNeedsMomsBlog.com and www.InspiringWordsfortheJourney.com.

28 Comments

  1. Beverly

    Gratitude is a powerful perspective through which God speaks to our hearts. Thank you, Kristin, for sharing your insights!

  2. Susan C

    Kristin, Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your struggles and how you have learned to cope. I’m so grateful for you and your beautiful family.

  3. Jolene

    Denise, Thank you so much for following my posts and for sharing your personal reflections! Blessings! Kristin

  4. Jolene

    Susan, I really appreciate you reading and your thoughtful reply! Warmly, Kristin

  5. Jolene

    Randy, Thank you for your deep reflection and comment; and as always, your support and encouragement! Kristin

  6. Jolene

    Laura, Awe thank you for your kind words. That means a lot to me! Thank you for reading my posts and for your encouragement! Kristin

  7. Jolene

    Jessica, thank you for following my posts and for sharing your personal story! Warmly, Kristin

  8. Jolene

    Suzanne, I always really appreciate you following and supporting me in my ministry and writing journey! Blessings! Kristin

  9. Jolene

    Jenny, your support on my personal journey and your encouragement of my passion for ministry and writing mean the world to me! Ly Kristin

  10. Jolene

    Leigh, I hope that sharing a little of my story brought you validation and encouragement in yours. Thank you for sharing your personal reflection. Blessings! Kristin

  11. Jolene

    Robin,
    Thank you for reading and following. I always really appreciate your thoughtful replies!
    Kristin

  12. Jolene

    Alice,
    Your journey has been a very difficult one, as well. I am so glad that we connected along the way to provide support to one another!
    Blessings! Kristin

  13. Jolene

    Jackie, Thank you for your continual support and encouragement both in my journey and in my writing and ministry journey! LY Kristin

  14. Jolene

    Mary Lou,
    A person’s faith can definitely be tested! Your support and encouragement always mean the world to me!
    LY Kristin

  15. Jolene

    Lucky,
    Yes, it has been very difficult but critical to do. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful reply and support.
    Blessings! Kristin

  16. Lucky Vogt

    A very moving account of coming to terms with heart wrenching circumstances. Letting go of the anger and the need for answers is so difficult. Thank you for sharing your story, and for the 4 practices – such good guideposts to remember.

  17. Mary Lou Hammer

    This post illuminates how difficult the faith journey can be when facing life and death situations. Thank you for sharing so honestly your experience.

  18. Jackie Yates

    Kristin, I am so glad you are sharing your story. There is no doubt that you have had many ups and downs. That is a mild way to describe your life. You have always total amazed me how you fight for your children and their needs. I am so glad you decided to share your story of faith. I know that it keeps you going day to day. Other people need to hear your story for many reasons. You are loving and giving person that will share whatever you have learned to help others. Bless you!

  19. Alice Starnes

    I remember those times you went through. You hid it well. I used to think,” Wow, I wish I had myself together like she does.” It’s nice to hear what your journey was and is like. My son, who has autism, hasn’t suffered from medical issues such as your children but I still identify with the loneliness and the struggle to be “normal” for his sisters. I love following your journey. I’m glad you have a Christian perspective also. That matters to me.

  20. Robin Oldacre

    Sounds simple to look at the bright side, count your blessings etc until it’s you and your situation. Thank you for nudging us to just do it even if you can only find one tiny thing to be thankful for.

  21. Leigh Lail

    Wonderfully written! Explained the same thoughts and feelings I experienced with the birth and diagnosis confirmation of our daughter. Thanks for putting it into words!

  22. Jennifer Wilson

    So grateful for all God has done in your life Kristin and for you having courage to share your journey with others. Your’s is a beautiful story of healing and redemption. We don’t always know what God is doing in the midst of storms, but thankful for when we can look back and see He was always there with us. This helps me move forward day to day.

  23. Suzanne Blokland

    I truly appreciate your honesty. Everything you write sings of authenticity. Thank you for sharing your journey with others as you encourage them on their own journeys of faith.

  24. Jessica

    I know the dark nights you have experienced far too well Kristin. Thank you for a dose of perspective. As a special need parent I know I need reminders every day and I must continue to “die to the why”

  25. Laura MacPherson House

    Kristin, I admire you so very much. I don’t know anyone who could be the person that you are and do what you do, but you do it. Every day. Your faith and your mindfulness are inspiring. You and your family are always in my heart. I love that you are sharing your story. It is one of the most special, loving stories I’ve ever witnessed. Blessings to you.

  26. Rev. Randy K. Hammer

    A powerful testimony about a real journey of faith and what genuine faith is all about and how it helps us deal with life’s greatest challenges. Wonderful post!

  27. Susan Sage

    This is beautifully and transparently written. Thank you for sharing your heart’s struggle in your blooming development of faith. I am so thankful for where God has brought you.

  28. Denise Kuser

    As a special needs mom as well this really helps out things in perspective. I love this❤️

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.

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