Monday, August 19, 2013

Eternal Perspectives:Thinking Right About a Life Sentence or a Death Sentence

When individuals are conviced of a crime and given a life sentence, it is a major punishment. When a state allows the death penalty and a person is facing a death sentence, it may seem even worse. It really depends on how the individual thinks about life and their future.

There are thousands of death sentences given every day. These are not given by a judge in a courtrom, but they are given by doctors and ultimately God. These could be when an individual finds out their cancer is incurable, or when parents discover that their child has a genetic syndrome that will ultimately lead to death. For some, the knowledge that they will soon die, may be a comfort. Years of struggle will finally be ending, and heaven will soon be more than something you know by faith.

There are also many life sentences given every day. Children like my son were given a life sentence. CHARGE syndrome does not necessarily lead to death. Most of the time it does not. It does offer a life of disability and some suffering. There are many people living with life sentences. Those who have children who are living with them, might often feel the pain of their child. Living with a life sentence of disability is stressful, discouraging, and can often lead to despair. If you are in this place, your thinking in the right way, could help you through it. Thinking about the truth of your situation can bring you comfort, because you know that God works all things for the good of those who know Him as Savior. You also know that this life is temporary. The hard things will someday pass away with all tears.

It is not for me to say whether it is better for a child born with a debilitating disease to not have to live with it. It is not for me to say what is better. That is in God's hands, and what He does is best. I do not believe that aborting a child is right no matter what is wrong with a child. Those of us with children with disabilities or who have disabilities of our own may wonder why God allowed this problem in the first place. Why did I get the life sentence rather than the death sentence? Was God showing mercy to some and giving grace to others? We will probably never know why God has chosen as He has. It should be good enough to know that it is for our good. When individuals choose abortion and take their child's life into their own hands, they will never really know what would have happened. Their child may have been given a sentence to life with a difficult condition. It might have been hard, but in God's plan He offers the grace to make it through.

If you are in one of these positions. And you feel like neither life or death looks good, then look up. A passage I memorized several years ago says it so well. I Peter 1:3-9 says,  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." These words tell me that whether we live in suffering on earth or die, the end will be the same for those of us who have accepted Christ. Don't give up, look up! Let God fulfill His plan, and try not to question it. This life is not forever, glorify Him as much as you can with the life He has given you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Empathy: Taking a Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

The empathy of a young child can be significant. My oldest has the gift of empathy. When he was two years old and I was pregnant with Trenton, I saw his empathy at its peak. Pregnancy can bring on significant emotions, and it frequently did during my last pregnancy. There was one moment when he was in his high chair, and I don't even remember the circumstance, but I was very emotional. When he saw my reaction, he began to weep. I couldn't believe his empathy.

Growing up as the youngest child, empathy and selflessness were not my strengths. In fact, I was a fairly selfish young person. I would never have thought it, but as I've gotten older, I've seen it. It was all about my worries, my wants, my hurt feelings etc.

For years I wanted to be a nurse. I think it's because I didn't feel the pain. I could watch a surgery with hardly a flinch. I could even watch a procedure on my own leg, but I looked faint, so they made me lie down. At one time I was proud of that ability, but today I realize that it was simply a lack of empathy.

As I've grown older, I've begun to feel pain at the pain of others. It is something that is truly a necessity. If we cannot put ourselves in someone else's shoes, our lives will simply be a shallow little world of our own. Most people have pain that they go through periodically, but if it is only our pain on which we focus, we will never grow. The knowledge of the experiences of others broadens our world, and it helps us to better reach out as a Christian.

Today, I have a little one who has been through a great deal. I've never seen wounds in person until I saw those that he has endured. The pokes and prods are something that I would never want to experience. As with most parents, when he gets a cold, I do not really know what he is experiencing until I am going through it myself. I experienced that this week when he got a cold first, and then a caught it. I would have never known how much he needed tylenol until I woke up in the night with a terrible sore throat. Experiencing the pain of someone else changes our perspective. This does not mean that we should inflict pain on ourselves so that we know. It means we just need to change our mind about others. Our perspective needs to not just skim over another's situation. We need to "weep with those that weep."

Imagine if Christ had lacked empathy. Where would we be? He literally put himself in our shoes on the cross when He took our sin. He felt the pain that each of us should have felt, and He knew how awful it would be. Empathy is a trait that all Christians should show if not only for the reason that we are to emulate Christ. His empathy showed in his entire ministry to the lost and hurting. May we have the same empathy toward those going through trials.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Your Other Special Children

Finding out that you now have a child with special needs is difficult. I can't imagine having this happen with your first pregnancy, but in many ways it is difficult in a different way to already have children when it happens. When Trenton was born, our oldest son was two. He really did well. He had some issues with stuttering because of the stress we were all going through being away from home for so long, and that stopped once we got home.

 A new baby is always going to affect an older child in some way, but more recently I have seen it affect our oldest more. It is something to think about when you see a family with a few children, one of which has special needs. Sometimes parents cannot give their other special children as much attention as they would like. Sometimes we have to drop everything to take care of an important issue with our child with medical needs.

So what can I do? What can you do? All we can do is our best. Give your other special children as much attention as you can. Keep in mind that you need some alone time as well once in a while. Try to help your child understand what is going on and why you can't play right then. They will not always understand, but all you can do is love them and make sure they know that they are special too.

If you are reading this and do not have a child with special needs but you know people who do, then there is something that you can do. Try not to judge the parents. If you see their older child misbehaving and the parent is struggling, be empathetic. If you see that a child seems to need attention but the parent is busy with the child with special need, volunteer to take him or her for a little while. Having people around who are willing to give that extra attention that you cannot give is a blessing. The parent may or may not agree, but in offering, you did the right thing. If a parent does not need the help right then, don't give up. Most likely there will be a time when your help would be needed.