I was ten years old when Reid was born to our friends Drew and Diane. At our church’s school, my math teacher Miss Kisiel led our fifth grade class in praying for him. God, would you please not let Reid die, and Jesus, would you please help him to feel all better? God heard those child-prayers. He did graciously allow Reid to live. But for reasons known only to Him, He did not choose to heal Reid—in this life anyway.
Reid was the first severely handicapped child I had known. And in our church family, Reid was something of a celebrity. His parents taught us how not to be afraid to talk to him. His sisters Erin and Vicki showed us how to love him. And Reid taught us too. He is still teaching us.
Drew and Diane are long-time friends of my parents—they’ve known them since before they were married—and are vital members of Covenant Life Church. As my high school literature teacher, Diane inspired me to love and read the classics through the lens of God’s Word. She inspired me even more by her tender, joyful affection for Reid.
So to us, it’s only fitting that we begin this series for mothers of disabled children with our dear friend. Thanks, Diane, for sharing with us the grace God has given you in the gift of your son, Reid.
It is difficult to write down 20 years worth of lessons that God has taught me by giving birth to and raising a handicapped son. Nothing prepared me to give birth to a severely retarded quadriplegic. He came when I was 23 weeks pregnant. He had a brain bleed when he was 6 weeks old. He developed cerebral palsy. I had a 16-month old toddler. Things were chaotic.
The first lesson I learned was that God allows suffering, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t hear my prayers. For two years I believed that God’s will had to be total healing for Reid, and that would result in the entire staff at Children’s National Medical Center converting to Christianity. For whatever reason God allowed Reid to born early and he allowed him to develop catastrophic conditions.
The second lesson that I learned is that my relationship with God is more important than having my questions answered. Every time I demanded to know "why", I was plagued with the thought that maybe God doesn’t exist or that he doesn’t exist the way I have always believed Him to (Jesus as His Son, the Bible as His Word). I eventually came around to the resolution to believe in Him—even if I never know why he allowed Reid to be born early.
I learned how selfish I am. Having a healthy baby is enough to teach any woman this lesson, but to have a healthy active toddler plus a baby on life support who never gets toilet trained, feeds himself or dresses himself, and who is constantly needing to see doctors or be hospitalized, is beyond stressful. Erin spent her whole childhood going to doctor appointments with me!
I wouldn’t want anyone to think that we just breezed through the early years joyful every day. I had to walk through hardship and pain before the joy came.
But joy did come to Diane. Check back to read the conclusion of her story tomorrow.