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Strength to Care

Lessons from Matthew & Isaac – Our CHARGE Syndrome Journey

Does God give us more than we can handle…

One of the most often used phrases spoken to people who are in the middle of a crisis, struggle or burden…”God will never give us more than we can handle”. Usually followed by…”You must be really strong”. Those of us who are in the special needs community are often handed this one too “You must be really special if God has given you a such a special one to care for”.

A Fall family portrait of the Troupe's

A Fall family portrait of the Troupe’s

These comments are well intended and we do take them as a compliment even though sometimes they can be irritating. It guess it is better than being told “you had it coming” or “you deserved it”. Actually, in not so many words from some well-meaning people we have been questioned with why we had more kids after Matthew was born. These thoughts entered our world even more when Isaac was born…as if we were playing some kind of lottery, balancing between healthy, no problem children and CHARGE boys. By the way, we had no better chance to have two CHARGE Syndrome children than any other father and mother the first or second time.

Is it really more than we can handle?….Yes, if we choose to handle it on our own. The reference to God not giving us more than we can handle comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has over taken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Cor 10:13 NIV

The first part is often quoted but not the second. For those who are not familiar with the text or the fundamental reason for Gods gift of his Son could be left hanging with thoughts of why God would “give” us a crisis. God doesn’t “give” us bad things in our lives. But, when things do go bad we were designed not to go at it alone. We were meant to have someone walk beside us and give us the encouragement and strength we need to get to the other side of peril. The second part of the text promises that God will provide a way out so we can endure it.

It really is more that we can handle…the struggle, the illness, the suffering, the job loss, the bullying or (insert your burden) if we choose to suck it up and handle it on our own. When we embrace the burden and begin to accept help from above and abroad we develop endurance and later…freedom.

“You must really be special parents if God gave you such special children”. Our medically, emotionally, physically and mentally challenged ones have not come with an instruction manual and we certainly were not given super powers to “be strong”. But, we firmly believe that each one of our children were gifted to us for specific reasons, certainly not because of our qualifications. It was because of the competency and potential that God saw in us. If you need any further evidence just look at the twelve that were the closest to Jesus. If credentials and a resume were the only criteria used for their future calling they wouldn’t have even been invited to a first interview. I read a commentary this past week by television personality Mike Rowe where he mentions this concept while referring to the process of being hired for his first television gig:

Here’s what I didn’t understand 25 years ago. QVC had a serious recruiting problem. Qualified candidates were applying in droves, but failing miserably on the air. Polished salespeople with proven track records were awkward on TV. Professional actors with extensive credits couldn’t be themselves on camera. And seasoned hosts who understood live television had no experience hawking products. So eventually, QVC hit the reset button. They stopped looking for “qualified” people, and started looking for anyone who could talk about a pencil for eight minutes.

QVC had confused qualifications with competency.
Perhaps America has done something similar?

Look at how we hire help – it’s no so different from how we elect leaders. We search for work ethic on resumes. We look for intelligence in test scores. We search for character in references. And of course, we look at a four-year diploma as though it might actually tell us something about common-sense and leadership. Mike Rowe

God does not look at what we have done, he doesn’t peer at the wall and look for the credentials, he won’t even take time to poll your friends on how nice of a person you are. What he will do is look at your heart. He will look at the gifts and talents you have been given and examine what you have done with those and the potential to make the best of them. He is also there, right beside you when you face something you may think you cannot handle.

As for the critics who have questioned our sanity to have more kids…That is between God and us. Yes it has been and continues to be hard to raise them, keep them safe and keep them healthy. We sacrifice family vacations. We don’t get enough sleep. Relationships are fractured. Our germ phobia is misunderstood and the list goes on and could fill a complete blog post. We would not change a thing.

We would not change a thing because of the impact that suffering and hardships have had on our lives. They have made us better people. Better in ways that could never be explained on a resume.

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