Life Lessons from a Special Needs Daughter

I always dreamed of being a mother, even long before I was of child bearing age. Oh the fun, the laughter, and the learning our family would do together. It made me smile just thinking about it.

I envisioned a daughter who would radiate the love of the Lord to others and be a calm, gentle spirit in a dark and sinful world.

Five years into our fertility journey, God gave us the gift of Joy, our daughter, through the beauty of adoption.

From the moment she was placed in my arms, tiny and pink, I loved her and praised God for uniting us as a forever family.

It was one of the best days of my life, and I embraced my new mom role wholeheartedly by dolling her up in frilly clothes and the obligatory baby bows.

She was the apple of our eye, and our family felt complete in every way.

Parenting her was a breeze and I just knew I had this mom thing down pat. Why did people say this was hard?

We were one of those families; our Facebook pictures always joyful since having our girl made us the perfect little family.

Yet things quickly changed.

Joy started lagging behind the development of her peers and I knew in my mother’s heart that something was wrong.

I was right.

After a long journey of testing and seeking answers, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder on August 28, 2013.

My role as a mother shifted as I gained the title, Special Needs Mom; one I never thought I would bear.

Grief shook me to the core, yet God walked every step of the heartache with me and eventually, He healed my wounded heart and made me strong in Him.

Throughout our journey, I’ve learned invaluable life lessons from a special needs daughter that have made me who I am today.

5 Life Lessons from a Special Needs Daughter

Be humble

Life is not about those pretend moments we share on social media or the smoke and mirrors we allow others to see.

Life is about those small moments in which you show compassion, love unconditionally, and are the hands and feet of Jesus.

True humility means putting her needs above mine, even in moments when I am sleep deprived, weary to the core, and short tempered.

God will carry you

Even in my darkest moment of grief and crying out to the Lord, I could feel His prescece. I could feel Him carrying me in times of weakness, strengthening me when I had none of my own, and leading me towards His peace and hope.

No matter what the situation, remember friends, He is always shepherding you and guiding you towards His perfect plan.

“My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word.” Psalm 119:28

No matter the ability, teach children about Jesus

Right now, Joy is making progress with speech, but it can be unintelligible and it’s not more than a few words at a time. No matter her ability, I’ve always felt led to share with her about Jesus. Even if she doesn’t understand, I want her to have heard about Jesus’ sacrifice and how He loves her so.

She can fold her hands and even mimic the start of a prayer, saying, “Dear Jesus”. It floods my soul with joy hearing her attempt to pray and know that all children with disabilities need to hear the Good News, too.

God can use any situation for His glory

From the moment of diagnosis, my prayer has been that God will use her disability for His glory. In almost two years, the amount of people her life has touched has been amazing.

I’ve seen God restore the brokenness and make beauty from ashes in our lives, and we’ve learned to live boldly for Him like we weren’t doing before and to live fully surrendered to Him.

God does not make mistakes

Many have tried to figure out what caused Joy’s Autism and find a solution to cure her. While I admit that I did grasp at straws for answers when she was first diagnosed, I no longer have to have an answer.

God is sovereign and powerful.

He does not make mistakes and nothing takes Him by surprise.

So the next time you see someone with special needs, remember that God has gone before and created that very special person in His image, and allowed the differences to sift through His mighty hands for His glory.

What has God taught you about life and parenting through the storms of life? Have you experienced a time when you were unable to carry yourself, yet God strengthened you?

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  1. Dawn says:

    Your words are a sweet gift of grace to my heart, Sarah Ann. You have such wisdom at this stage of mothering I feel I didn’t have when we were walking down the special needs road with our daughter. While I wouldn’t change what we have learned and lived with her and in the trials of parent our special needs child, I confess there is still a part of me that wishes life were easier for her ( and to be fully honest… us). 🙂

    However, what I do know, and have from the beginning is that God does not make mistakes and I ( like you ) am blessed beyond measure to be a mom to my amazing girl, along with my kids who do not have the same needs she did/does.

    Now that she is an adult, the spectrum of parenting has shifted and like it was in the beginning, I feel like I am walking blind some days, but no less thankful for the presence of the Almighty who leads, loves, lifts, and lightens our path.

    God is always good. Always.
    He gave your girl the momma she need as he mapped our both of your days.
    Bless you!

  2. Sarah Ann says:

    Thank you, friend! I did not realize you were the parent of an extra special girl, too, and that just makes me love you even more! 🙂

    While I am still new at this, I can see how new stages of life bring more challenges and if I’m honest, the future for her can overwhelm me. But I know how God is faithful to provide direction and guidance every step of the way, including the future. I’m praying for your sweet family! God bless you all!

  3. Michelle says:

    Lovely. Your words are my words. Having a daughter with special needs changes us. I love your last paragraph and let’s hope it goes out to the world to treat our daughters with respect and love.

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