Why We Say What We Say...

Someone asked me recently why we say "It's how God made you" to Will.   We've been asked if teaching our children that "Jesus loves them" might make them question a loving God who can allow children to be born with disabilities.  Actually, we're asked this quite a bit.  We've also had people try to warn us that this may make them angry at God someday.  

Quite frankly, if he wants to get angry at God someday, I think he will, regardless of what we say or don't say.

Also quite frankly, I can't predict my child's response to God as they get older.  I can pray for a particular response and outcome but that is between my child and God ultimately.

And even more, God can handle anger.  (See:  David in the Psalms.)

He created our emotions and I'm confident He can handle them just fine, without my assistance.

So why do we say that to either of our children, both with obvious physical differences or disabilities?  Are we somehow setting them up for anger at God?  Are we setting them for confused theology?  Should we just leave God out of the deal?

I don't really know and I can't predict the future.

Here's what I do know.

When we were pregnant with Will and we learned he would have some major medical issues and obvious physical differences, this was an issue we confronted early on.  As I studied so many complications with my baby, I also was studying so many scriptures about what God says about a baby in the womb. (See Psalm 139 and Jer 1 and even Luke 1)

And we also discussed how we would teach our children and raise our children - if they didn't have any known medical conditions.  Would we tell our child that Jesus loved them?   Of course we would!  Would we tell our child that God made them?  Would we tell Sunday school teachers or preschool teachers to skip over our child when they do their unit on "God made me" and highlight each child to be the child of the week and teach about the parts of the body and how we are all special?  Should our child not be included in that lesson?  Of course not!

It seems so simplistic, doesn't it?

I never hesitated to think that I would tell a child that God made them.  So why would I treat my own child any differently, simply because he has a physical difference?

We determined that we wanted to raise our child as much as possible in a "normal" way and that this truth applied to all children.  We wouldn't somehow avoid telling our child this in an effort to avoid potential room for future anger and bitterness.  We believed all children were made by God and our child was no exception.

And we also dealt with the question of how we would have responded had our child been diagnosed later with a disability.  Does a parent who teaches their child "God made you" or "Jesus loves you" because they seem typical suddenly change their mantra if the child is diagnosed at age 5 with a disability?  Do they suddenly turn quiet and stop telling their child they are made by a loving God?

We determined that if our child was born "typical" but we discovered later that he had a disability, we wouldn't suddenly change what we believe to be truth - that he remains created by a loving God.

He is not an accident.  He is made with intention and purpose.

And because at heart I'm a research junkie, I then questioned every single parent I could find with a child with a difference and asked them what they told their child.  A few stuck to the phrase, "it's how you were born" but for the most part, most said that for their small child, a simple "It's how God made you" worked.  

A ten year old is going to ask for more in depth answers I'm sure but for a little kid, this has worked.

And ultimately, here's the deal.

I don't get to know all the details.  My little human brain which with each pregnancy has lost more brain cells (does mommy brain ever go away?!) can not fully grasp our God.  

Job 11:7-8 says,
 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
   Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
   They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?"

I can't fully fathom His mysteries and I'm not about to place limits on Him.  I don't understand the science or medicine behind our situation.  (Neither do many of our nations' top medical minds.)  But I don't have to either.

I don't know why God chose our family for this unique road.  I don't know why my children have such obvious challenges, and in some cases, face greater challenges than others will ever know.  

I don't know why we get to experience such depth of pain and height of joy.  

Sometimes, I often think that we are the lucky ones.  We are the ones who see scripture lived out as we are forced to see our own human weaknesses, our own inadequacies.  We are aware of our need for God and our dependence on Him.  And our children are incredible judges of character.  Their little characters are being refined in ways I could have never imagined.

I know that in John 9, Jesus tells his disciples that a man's disability has purpose  - to bring glory to God.  I believe He values our response to life's challenges far more than we realize.  I believe He wants us to choose joy.  I believe He wants us to find ways to praise Him and to bring Him glory through what others believe should bring us down.

I don't know why my children were born with differences.  I don't know that I will ever fully understand.  And I'm not sure it even matters - my response to it is what matters.  

I do know that I wouldn't change them.  And I won't shield them from the truth out of fear.  He made them.  He loves them.

Having a differently formed body doesn't signify that He loves them less or that He made only people who are "typically" formed.  

I don't understand His mysteries.  But I do know that He fiercely, fiercely loves my children and He takes pride in His creations.  I suppose that is where faith enters the picture.  I believe Scripture that tells me He forms each of us in the womb.  I know enough of His character to know He loves us and He wants the best for us, He can be trusted, He is consistent and faithful, He is full of mercy and grace.  And I know too that He is to be feared and He is to be trusted.  My human mind may never comprehend Him fully or His ways - but I can trust Him, even on the hard days and the painful moments where my soul cries out "why."  Somewhere, in the middle there, where the grayness of His mysteriousness meets the clarity of what I know, is where we often find ourselves.

So, yes, we say "Jesus loves you."  We say, "God made you" to our children... just like we would to any other child on this planet.

4 thoughts:

Mike and Christie said...

I am right with you there. We tell our children the same thing. And we also do not try to pretend to make sense of it or understand it. It is enough to know that God is sovereign over His creation and that He makes NO mistakes. Because we live in a fallen world, things happen that break our hearts... but I don't think we are living Plan B.... I really think we are living Plan A.
And someday, all things will be made clear and right.

There is a special joy that comes through hardship that only the person going through it can fathom or begin to understand.

I pray that our children will not waste one minute with bitterness of heart, or on questions that cannot be answered this side of eternity, but instead with rejoice in God their Savior and basque in the Love he lavishes out on them and on us.

We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made, knit in our mother's wombs, and He KNEW us, before we were named.

mccallsanderson said...

It makes me sad that anyone would tell any child otherwise! I agree with your thoughts and ideas about how we are each made differently, some just more evident than others. I'm behind you. Know that you are being lifted up today! :)

ywilbur said...

My take a is bit different in that I'm sort of lost in my religion now. Lots of people would would classify me as Unitarian I think; but belief wise I think I'm more Reform Judiasm (but was born and raised Christian so unless converted would not be recognized officially), just where I am now. I definately believe in God but really struggle conveying my beliefs to my children. It is a daily struggle of mine.

My older son was adopted at 8 and is Christian and attends church by himself. Kharan sometimes goes with him, sometimes with my mom, but also attended a Jewish daycare and if I would have been allowed I'd have put him in a Jewish private school as it is closest to my beliefs (not practiced though) and a great school where lots of his friends go. Kharan is learning about Christian holidays and beliefs through my older son and grandparents...but is just getting the concept that these are religions vs just what every person does.

Either way, Kharan tells many people that "the Lord made me this way" because IT WORKS 95% of the time. The fact is the most annoying of children just can't grasp 'I was born this way' but most every child IN THE WORLD has some form of religion...there are very few kids who don't stop questioning when you say 'the Lord made him that way' a very few will say something like 'but why?' and saying back something along lines of 'He wanted too' or 'nobody knows why the Lord does things' ends it.

In US it's very rare you run into atheist parents or kids and the one family I know who are have taught their children all people are free to believe and should not be challenged.

I really don't know what Kharan believes religious wise but I can tell he knows that saying 'the Lord made me this way' works. It is usually his 3rd line of defense though 'I was born this way', 'you're hurting my feelings', 'the Lord made me this way'.

For me: I believe in God and I believe God did make him the way he is for one specific reason. I believe He did it because I was single, not able to adopt a healthy child (costs more money), prayed for a child with needs I could easily meet given that my older son has some pretty severe needs (fetal alcohol syndrome), and so I was led to Kharan.

Originally my home study said moderate needs (physical, developmental, emotional and behavioral) and I was floored I got matched with a child whose needs I knew I could handle so very easily...BUT I had to update my homestudy because in his country of birth his needs were listed as Profound and Severe Physical needs! Hundreds of families had by-passed him based solely on this medical report that described his condition.

Secretly, I am often so thankful God made him how he is because otherwise he would not have been listed in adoption world as special needs child (and I would never have met him). I'm thankful the country listed him as severe and profound too or else some other family would have seen this amazing loving wonderful boy and snatched him up.

In adoption there is a price and that price was 16,000 dollars less (for a child listed with special needs). I could only afford a special needs international adoption. In the US, I was previously looked over as not good enough for every child I inquired about under the age of 9 due to 'the child really needs/wants a 2 parent home'. So I truely believe God made my son exactly as he is and put him in a foreign country that deemed his needs severe and profound so that his precious soul could be loved by me. And, thus why I struggle so much daily with how I'm not instilling my beliefs!

Clint said...

*tears* :)
(this is kelly)

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