I have a very special treat for you today. My husband Peter is breaking his online silence as it were and is sharing his special needs father's heart with you! As I read Peter's words and typed this post for him, I sat in our overstuffed recliner and wept. I'm SO excited for you to hear from Peter, my sweet Zachary's daddy.
If you were to have told me a number of years back that I was to one day be the father of a special needs child, I would have probably told you that I’m pretty sure that’s not a good idea. I most likely would have said that I’m not sure that’s something I could handle.
I remember many times growing up and coming across a handicapped or special needs person and feeling a bit awkward, not knowing how to interact or what to say. I’d instead find myself locating the nearest exit and high-tailing it out of there!
Now, however, things are very different. We were blessed with Zachary, a 5 year old boy born to us in 2011 with Lowe Syndrome. In short, Lowe Syndrome is a rare disease that affects only boys. Zachary has the mental capacity of a 1 or 2 year old with very little verbal skills and the physical frailty of an unhealthy 85 year old man. The chance of having a boy with Lowe Syndrome is about the same as winning the Powerball jackpot. But given the choice between having a half-billion dollars or Zachary, I would choose Zachary in a heartbeat even amidst the unknown difficulties - and even cleaning up his puke in the middle of writing this! Blah!
My reason for writing is to simply share with you some things that I have learned about being a father of a special needs child and why he is such a joy to Jessica and I and our family. These thoughts will in no way lead you to being the perfect special needs parent or provide you with more sleep at night, but maybe it will give you encouragement and make the times when you do sleep a little more peaceful!
I just told you I would choose Zachary over a half-billion dollars and you may have thought “of course you would! He’s your flesh and blood.” This is true, but this truth goes much deeper than the fact that he is my son. The truth is that God is all powerful and all knowing, that God is everywhere holding all things together including the heart beating in your chest, and that he is personal and nothing escapes his notice. So you and I must realize that God doesn’t make mistakes.
Let me say it again for my sake - God doesn’t make mistakes! Whether it’s something you see in the mirror or it’s your son or daughter suffering from something ugly that is out of your control and it breaks your heart, God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t see Zachary as an “oops” or an “I didn’t see that one coming!” God sees Zachary as fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
I am reminded of the story from the book of John where we see two very contrasting views of a man born blind. (John 9) The disciples view was that it must be either because of his sins or his parents’ sins. Jesus’ view, however, was much different when he said “This happened so that the power of God could be seen in him.” This passage reveals to me that God doesn’t look at Zachary filled with regret at what He had made, but He sees Zachary as a portal through which His power can be seen! Not in this life will I really understand how this will all work or what God’s plan truly is.
This also brings new light to Psalm 139 that God “knit together” not just the seemingly perfect human specimens of the world but also those who were born with sickness, disease, and disorders.
When I choose Zachary over all the treasure in the world, it’s not just because he is my son, but because it’s exactly how God wants him to be and God’s precious thoughts about him cannot be numbered. (Psalm 139:17)
It is my prayer for your family and ours that in the middle of difficult and hard to understand times, God would make known to you some of those precious thoughts that He has for you and your children. Knowing that in sickness, disease, and disorders, God’s power, whether we understand it or not, will be seen.
Friends, this is just the beginning! Peter will be sharing his heart and what he's been learning as a special needs dad all throughout the month of August. I hope you'll come back!
Follow our family's stories in our daily vlogs on YouTube HERE!