Such As Is Common to Man ~ 5 of 5

The Path that God Ordained ~ Such As Is Common to Man

by Debbie Taillefer

One of the temptations I have watched Jessica struggle with and overcome in her fight against HPP, is feeling all alone and that nobody understands.  How could anybody be aware of all the difficulties of HPP, if you have never had it?  I myself found it challenging at times to empathize and to see things from her perspective.

I observed people along the way make an effort to “help” her in ways that definitely did not ease her circumstances but caused harm, further misunderstanding and alienation.  They would then misinterpret why she was not always receptive to “assistance.”  Conversely, others would simply ignore her or stay away when she needed them the most.  Then there were those that mocked, ridiculed and labeled her mood or responses, not considering that there was an explanation or that her point of view was normal for one who had endured many obstacles in life.  One example might be her periodic serious and somber moods.  She was so misunderstood as being morose and not lighthearted all the time.  They didn’t consider that facing extensive medical involvement at such a young age might cause someone not to be carefree, flippant and silly all the time.  Or, to act jovial at certain times might make her feel insincere and superficial.  Nor did they take into account that the extra work on her kidneys processing all the calcium in her urine, impaired balance, weak muscular system and bone structure would naturally lead to a lot of fatigue.  Death, difficulties, illness and tragedies change people and the truth is, they often feel isolated and misjudged.

Recently, I watched a movie with my family called, “Gospel Hill” with Danny Glover.  I recommend that if you view it, watch it with a “Clear Play” to remove bad language and inappropriate scenes.  Nevertheless, this is a top-notch movie in regards to trying to relate to and understand one another.  In one scene Danny’s character is dealing with a young activist white woman who desires to empathize with him.  Danny’s character puts his arm up against hers, highlighting the difference in the color of their skin and says (paraphrase), “Do you see that?  That is why you will never understand.”

My youngest daughter, Amanda, has also struggled with some of these feelings.  She was always trying to compensate and defend her sister who was unwelcome for certain games because she was just a “drag.”   I watched her extend herself so many times to figure out ways to make other children comfortable to play with Jessica.  I observed a very active child sacrifice herself over and over so that Jessica didn’t feel constantly out-run, out-tagged, out-climbed or outnumbered by everyone that could do everything better than her.  It was very tough and taxing for her to strive and encourage someone all the time in trying circumstances that threaten to overwhelm and discourage.  Thankfully, God gave her a compassionate spirit that couldn’t do anything else but give of herself, so that her sister could have some fun and at least win or participate some of the time.  Jessica looks back now and realizes all that Amanda attempted to do and is thankful.  Yet at the time, Amanda endured feeling very alone and misunderstood with the resentment that Jessica couldn’t help but aim at her sometimes, when she yearned to be able to run and play hard like her sister.

This past year has been an incredibly difficult, painful one for my family.  I stood by and witnessed my husband experience pretty much the loss of everything a man values in this life.  I can honestly say that one of the most misunderstood and lonely professions on earth is a Pastor.  Many times I sought to reach out for relief as I felt that I was drowning in the grief and uncertainty, trying to be what he needed me to be and praying that there was somebody I could turn to that would understand, be supportive and not crumble.  Countless times I was tempted with the feelings that maybe nobody could understand except a “certain” group of people who had been through what we had been through.  I was concerned about being a burden, worrying my family, causing anyone to feel like monkey in the middle or caught in the crossfire, but I so desperately needed comfort and guidance.  Thankfully, God did send me a trusted Pastor’s wife who came alongside me, helped make sense out of all the turmoil, listened, was not judgmental and just ministered to me in practical, loving ways.  She was what we all need at such times: someone who doesn’t demand, command, judge, push or berate, but simply weeps with you as you weep.

What I would like to share in this chapter is that we, and I do mean all of mankind, wrestle with “stuff” that leaves us feeling alone and misunderstood.  It is something that is common to man and not just to families or children with special needs.  I hope to encourage families with special needs that we are not alone in battling some of these things and educate those that think families with special needs are very different from them.

The Bible puts it like this: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

It is my desire to convey that every single one of us has something we are dealing with that tries to isolate us and makes us feel like nobody understands.  It may be unique in some way, yet we all have this in common.  We all have something and the consequences of that “something” is the same, temptation.  Temptation to what?  Feel alone, misunderstood, downtrodden, betrayed, let down, rejected, angry or feel sorry for ourselves.  These particular temptations are common to everyone.  We all have something we are born with or that crops up that could cause us to struggle and feel that nobody appreciates what we are going through.  Struggle and temptation is common to all of mankind, and if we are not careful, can lead us into sin.

There is a post on Facebook going around right now.  It goes something like this:

“Children with special needs don’t have an illness, so there is no cure and it’s not contagious.  They want what we all want – to be accepted.  This is in honor of all children who need a little extra help and understanding.”

I thought the second sentence is what is most telling for us all.  They want what we all want, to be accepted or in other words, to be understood and therefore accepted.  Don’t we all, at some time or another, need a little extra help and understanding and want someone to draw near and not run away, like we have the plague?  What really changes how children, adults and cultures treat one another?  What really causes us to be a support and not ignore or push people away when their grief and trials are more than we can bear, or when we don’t understand what they are going through?  Can we, on our own, really understand and give to someone what is most needful?

But God is faithful…

I believe that Christ’s heart and love for others is necessary to really change your perspective and give you ability and strength to deal with those you don’t comprehend or are afraid to deal with.  Love and compassion occurs when we come to really experience Christ’s love for us and then understand Christ’s heart and love for others.  A good example that I can think of is husbands that are commanded by God to “love their wives,” and one way they are to show their love is to “dwell with their wives with understanding.”  Talk about the impossible!  How can they do that when they have no clue what it is to be a woman or a wife?  If a man is commanded to love his wife, but he doesn’t really understand her, how can he really give her what she needs, to feel loved, understood, cherished, defended and united?  Yet, the Bible is very clear, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  In God’s strength and with God’s heart, I can rally around those that I don’t understand, so that they don’t suffer isolation and misunderstanding.  I can reach out and assist them to feel adopted, connected, understood, comforted and united with me.  That is what my daughter craved, that is what I craved as a wife and the wife of a Pastor, that is what someone who has just lost a child, their job, in childbirth, had their heart broken or has lost the use of their legs, craves.

Why is it that the music industry is so popular?  Because people turn there to hear others belting out songs that make them feel like somebody understands.  However, other than drink another beer, paint your truck, get rid of their picture, go get a new hairdo or what have you, they don’t offer real answers and strength to get you through.  God is able to get us through and give us ability to be a person of hope.  Haven’t you been around those people that seem to make everyone feel at ease and like an old friend?  Haven’t you noticed how people just gravitate to such a person?

We had a young woman in our Church and another young woman in a sports club my daughter joined (who had a different philosophy for achievement), that had the gift to really encourage my Jessica and advocate for her during competition.  Some sports were pretty much impossible for her, given her lack of strength in her wrist.  They didn’t care how competitive everyone else was feeling or if they themselves were playing on an opposing team.  The athletes had to be patient while they led by example in giving her instruction and a level of play she could handle, instead of making her sit on the sidelines.  They would be her one-man cheering squad until she did it.  I don’t think my daughter liked the spotlight or the feeling of holding up the game while she tried to achieve the shot.  But one thing is for sure, God used these young women to teach everyone else playing a powerful lesson, we are here to see that everyone can play no matter what it takes and we need to change our expectations.  Are we here so we can personally glory in our own abilities, or should we be setting a different benchmark to achieve, that everyone feels included, accepted, understood and necessary.  We know that it is not always possible in competitive sports and no child should feel that everyone should cater to them all the time, but there are many opportunities when it is possible and should be encouraged.  The sports club was excellent at matching children so that they could actually participate and even be a star player.   We can be that encouragement too in someone’s life, if we lean on God and ask Him to help us.

Practically speaking, I watched God teach my daughter through her trials, how to cope first of all with her own feelings of isolation and misunderstanding and then apply this knowledge to reach out to others, even if she hadn’t faced their particular problems.  I believe she learned that she didn’t have the strength to overcome by herself.  She had to learn to draw close to God and lean on Him.  Deep trials and grief are hard to bear, and we either become bitter and cold or we become a puddle of nerves and emotion.  We usually withdraw ourselves or others tend to retreat from us.   She eventually came to realize that God always understands, all things, at all times and is able with infinite strength and availability, to help you escape the crushing temptation to run from the trial or grief, and instead, bear it.  In addition, He taught her how to not run from others during such times but to cry with them so to speak, so they did not feel so alone, as they suffered.

From my part I have had some struggles as a woman relating to God and the person of Jesus as a Man, and at times questioning, “How can He really understand me?”  I remember crying out to God, “How can you understand what I am going through?  You reveal Yourself as a male and I am a female!  How can you identify with what I am working through with Jessica, or other concerns particularly female, Lord?”

Having a child with special needs began a journey in my relationship with God that really opened my eyes to how God is able to relate to all people at all times.

He began to show me, step by step, little by little so much about Himself in the Bible that humbled me and put me in awe.  How the God of the universe, who spoke into existence, multiplied billions of stars and created all things, had to crawl in the dust, have His diapers changed and be spoon-fed.  (He understands disability and great loss of mobility).  How the One who was robed in light and majesty had to be clothed in human skin covered with bugs and dirt, (see Job as a type of Jesus and yes, that is what is on our skin under a microscope).  How He temporarily lost all of the riches of heaven and was poverty stricken.  He had a stepfather, and was mocked as One born to an unwed mother.  He was ridiculed for His race and culture, put down because nothing good could have come from where He was from.  When He comprehended in His manhood His state as a human male, He humbled Himself.  He did not try to grasp equality with God, all the while knowing He was equal with God, and did not go around with a big chip on His shoulder like He had something to prove, as we often do today.  Instead, He resolved to live out the purpose for which He was born in the skin He was in.  He understands my conflict as a misunderstood woman in relation to men.  God understands the human condition in all points, no matter what it may be and accepts us in His Son, Jesus.  He wanted to come to us willingly in His humanity, so that He could show Himself strong in understanding and relating to us, when He went back to heaven.  When we have God, we are never alone and never misunderstood.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (weaknesses, diseases, sickness, feebleness (moral or bodily); but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Albert Barnes’ notes on the Bible states the following:  “Our High Priest is not cold and unfeeling.  That is, we have one who is abundantly qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, therefore, we may look for aid and support in trials.  Had we a high priest who was cold and heartless; who simply performed the external duties of his office without entering into the sympathies of those who came to seek for pardon; who had never experienced any trials, and who felt himself above those who sought his aid, we should necessarily feel disheartened in attempting to overcome our sins, and to live to God.  His coldness would repel us; his stateliness would awe us; his distance and reserve would keep us away, and perhaps render us indifferent to all desire to be saved. But tenderness and sympathy attract those who are feeble, and kindness does more than anything else to encourage those who have to encounter difficulties and dangers.  Such tenderness and sympathy has our Great High Priest.”

So husbands can take heart!  God is able to help husbands enter into their wives’ sufferings, not as one who is cold and heartless and who is simply performing the duty of his role, but as tender, sympathetic and encouraging, just like Jesus.

Family wedding(1)eeeOne of the greatest blessings that I have had being a Mother of a child with special needs, is watching my child blossom into a young woman of remarkable compassion, reaching out to those who appear friendless, helpless, misunderstood and isolated.  It is leading her to study for a career in nursing, because she knows the difference a good nurse can make for a young child or anyone else who is suffering and needs kindness.  Having HPP and battling the temptations that go along with a disability, has given her an incredible faith, trust and reliance upon the One who never leaves her or forsakes her and a mission to relieve others who may be down and out for whatever reason.  She has seen that our need is really the same.  The cause of the need may be unique or special, but the need is common to all mankind.  We need the One who understands, who is faithful in all things and never slumbers or sleeps but is always available, and we need someone who comes as His ambassador, sharing His love, concern and support.   The answer for all of mankind is in the following:

“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.   God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.” (Acts 17:23-28)

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