This post may target a specific demographic and be a little longer, but read through and try to understand what men around you are going through. It is not easy to go through, but even harder to get through alone.
Over time I have seen different marriages that are affected by the challenges of being a Special Needs Family. Yes, I understand that marital problems happen every day. And Yes, I understand that it happens even more frequently in families with special needs children. That does not make it ok to give up on, or give in to the challenges. I see men that have handled this like a champ, and others that have crumbled like a house of cards. It is difficult enough to be a man in this day and age and try to keep your family together, avoid temptations and do what is right, but to try to do that while battling the emotions, frustration, confusion and anger of having a special needs family and the stressors that go along with it. How do I know? Because I am the father of an amazing special needs child and would not change it for anything in the world!
The premise of this blog is that we as husbands and fathers have been called to be a pointman to our families, communities and any place we are sent. To lead, protect, educate, serve and ultimately help them succeed. And if we are a pointman with a special needs family, we are sent out on special assignment, into a battle where the deck is stacked against us, running out into an open field, outnumbered with no cover wearing a bright red and white target strapped to our backs. You tend to be more emotionally vulnerable than the next guy and will draw the fire of the enemy fast and furiously. Do you get the picture? Talk about an easy target!!
You will not win this battle by getting angry and lashing out. You will not win it by isolating, self-medicating, abusing those around you mentally, verbally, emotionally or physically. Or even by giving in to the desires of your flesh. While all those emotions are raw and painful, and you may not think it is fair or right, your ability to deal with them and get on the right track is what this battle is all about. I know, you think I don’t get it! Your situation is different, and you have a right to be angry, frustrated, outraged, you can fill in the blank with any emotion you want. I am here to tell you that your family needs a hero! Your family needs a man that is going to stand up and say “I will deal with me so that we can live well together. I am going to learn to understand the emotions that I am feeling right now because there is a good chance that they will never go away completely, and I do not want to lose my family.”
Are you with me? Is this you, or do you know this person? Then forward this along.
It is now time to stand up and dust yourself off. You have taken some hits, but you are alive to fight back. It is now time for your comeback! What do you need to do in order to make that comeback that your family needs. Here are some thoughts:
- Get some counseling! Professional or Pastoral.. Yeah, now that is popular among men!! Asking for help is rare, but asking for help with our emotions? Now that just does not happen. But I ask you, how much does your family mean to you? That woman that you married, watched walk down the aisle as emotion welled up and you found it hard to swallow, how much does she mean to you? Is she worth it? Are you worth it? Is your marriage and family worth sucking up your pride and getting some help?
- Begin to communicate honestly with your spouse! Erase the word “nothing” from your vocabulary when she asks, “what is wrong? What are you thinking?” Situations only get better when you start communicating and telling the truth! Leave denial behind and walk on in truth!
- Erase anything from your life that is a crutch or a way to escape your current consciousness. If you self-medicate with alcohol, deal with other addictions, drugs, gambling, smoking, get rid of them. They are only clouding your judgement and helping you escape from working on what really needs your attention. Some people escape by putting in overtime at work, hanging with the boys, playing video games. See where this is going? These are all traps!
If you don’t start somewhere, you will never get anywhere. I want to let you know that you can get through the storms and battles of this challenging life. Yes, you will end up with a few bumps and bruises, but you will be alive and your family can be intact! You can be the hero for your family! You can achieve greatness in your family’s eyes but it is going to take laying down your life for your family. You have to give up the right to be angry, disappointed and frustrated with the situation. You must move out of a place of selfishness and ask yourself what you can do to make the lives of your family better today than it was yesterday. And for goodness sake, don’t let the little three letter word “Why” become the biggest roadblock you have ever encountered. When you do these things, you will soon realize that the joy and relief that your family will experience brings you great reward.
John Maxwell wrote a book called “Learning From The Giants.” I would like to share three points from his chapter on Job with you and maybe you will go back, pick up your Bible and read about Job and the struggles he endured and the blessing God bestowed on him because of his faithfulness and perseverance. I would also encourage you to read this book by John Maxwell too.
- Good leaders do not allow their emotions to dictate their decisions
- Good leaders know that outside reputation should never be greater than inside character
- Good leaders realize that victory does not come quickly or easily
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God has planned to bless you all along. Give you a future that you are looking forward to as well as giving you hope. The challenge is that we may have made some bad decisions along this road, or maybe have fallen into passivity and made no decisions. Now it is on us to make the right decisions and turn this ship around. It may not be easy, but it is necessary. I strongly encourage you today, to make the right decisions. Right the ship and get your family back on the right road. Lay down your life for your family as Jesus did for the church! After all we are to be Jesus to our families. We are to love our wives (and families) as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.
I wrap this up by asking you to forward this along to every father of special needs children that you know. It is a challenging and difficult road to walk, but it is better when you don’t have to walk it alone.
If you are a special needs father and you are having challenges and want to reach out, simply email me. I would be glad to speak and help out in any way I can. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I am available.