I know I said I’d be writing about this stuff in August, but, this was a slow week and when inspiration strikes, you gotta go with it.
When I get emails from other special needs parents they often mention how alone they feel. Many times, I’m the only other person they know raising a child with profound special needs. I’m grateful that through the power of the internet, I’m able to offer some sort of hope or support to these parents, even if our children’s diagnosis’ aren’t quite the same. Because we spend so much time carrying our crosses alone and in silence around the majority of our friends with healthy “normal” children, even the briefest of connection with someone who “gets it” is immensely uplifting. Sometimes in our sadness, it’s easy to forget that God is walking this path with us; that we are never truly alone. I wanted to share seven ways I try to pray as a special needs mom that help me remember that my family and I are not abandoned.
1. I pray alone. I pray nightly with my family and on Sundays with my parish, but I make time to go, alone, and either sit in Adoration, or in a quiet chapel during the week and let God know everything that’s on my mind. Getting out of the house and away from all the distractions by myself makes it easier to have an uninterrupted conversation with Him about what’s on my mind.
2. I pray in silence. Often times, I’ve got a lot I want to say to God, or ask of Him, but usually when I’m alone, I try to make time to shut up and just listen. During these quiet moments I sometimes find peace, I sometimes get answers or inspiration and still others, I get only the benefit of quiet time alone, which is nothing to scoff at. I am bombarded with so much “noise” during the day, online and off, that even a few short minutes of silence is sweet relief and helps me return my focus to what’s most important in life.
3. I pray unceasingly. I never stop praying, and the few times in the past I was too angry or upset to pray, I turned over prayers to my friends and family. People always want to know what they can do to help; often praying doesn’t feel like enough, but there are times when those prayers are the only ones that were said for my family because I couldn’t say the words myself. In a time when there is a #dontpray movement, I can say prayer is the fuel that keep me going day in and day out. If I didn’t talk to my kids or my husband throughout the day, think of how our relationships would suffer. I keep up a constant dialogue with God because it’s one relationship I don’t want strained.
4. I pray honestly. I lay it all out there with God. When I’m angry or confused, I tell Him. When life doesn’t seem fair or make sense, when my child is suffering, when everything is falling apart, I cry to Him about it and I tell Him plainly I don’t know what to do. There are so many beautiful prayers I can memorize and recite and offer for specific intentions, but they do not replace the heartfelt pleas, or prayers for acceptance that come directly from my soul. I know He knows, but to verbalize my specific need helps me see it more clearly myself or question if I’m praying for the right thing at all.
5. I pray with others. I ask for prayers and graciously receive them from anyone who offers, online and in real life. I ask the saints to intercede and give thanks when a Mass card arrives. I call on Our Lady of Sorrows especially when it seems like no one else in the world can understand the pain in my mother’s heart. When I get an email from someone who is suffering, I pray for them immediately and try to remember to offer up my daily trials for them. It’s amazing to be a part of a web of support (or maybe I should call it a safety net) that touches from here to heaven and includes so many people.
6. I pray for peace, with or without understanding, to keep despair and hopelessness away. I could always be angry or wonder why me, or why Fulton. I have to make the choice to not wallow in sorrow. Sometimes, I need help and I ask for it. I know that I can be happy even if I don’t fully understand the ‘whys’ of this life. I need peace when I make a decision or to deal with people who try my patience. I need peace to know I’ve done the best I can and to prevent second guessing.
7. I rejoice and give thanks for all good things, no matter how small. It’s not all asking or complaining. My life is full of blessing and I try to remember to thank God for each one. It would be easy to only see the negative, but part of choosing joy is recognizing the blessings and the little miracles. I’ve learned to see when God has answered my prayers, whether it’s the way I wanted or in an even better way.
Are you a special needs parent? How has your spiritual life grown or adapted?
Be sure to write down your takes and link they up below! Please include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!
Wow, so powerful. Praying for you right now and all those this post speaks to in a special way.
Great post. Thanks for sharing.
What a wonderful post. As someone who works with children with special needs, this really spoke to me. I will be sharing it on my facebook page with others in the special education field.
“I need peace to know I’ve done the best I can.” Such truth.
Having a child suddenly develop debilitating, chronic pain short-circuited my spiritual life and dumped our whole family into survival mode. I am completely certain that it was the prayers of our friends and family that carried us through during the lowest times. Thank God for those who prayed for us when we didn’t have the words. For anyone who has a friend or relative struggling, offering sacrifices and prayers on their behalf is of immeasurable value.
But– even though I was searching for understanding and peace, I did not walk away from faith. I continued receiving the sacraments, praying as best I could, and going to adoration. Sort of like the teenager who doesn’t understand what seem like dumb parental rules but obeys them anyway, “I don’t get it, but I trust you know what you’re doing.”
During confession once, my priest said, “This can either make you bitter, or it can make you better.” Since then I’ve worked really hard at allowing the fire of our struggles refine but not destroy me.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Knowing that we are not alone makes the cross easier.
Yes, it’s very important to keep receiving the Sacraments, even if you have to force yourself through the motions for a bit. During the hardest times, my husband and I continued to attend Mass, say prayers as a family and go to Confession, even if we had to keep repeating the same sins over and over. Thank you for sharing Alicia.
All things I needed to hear right now. It always fills me great sadness when I see the don’t pray message. It’s so full of bitterness and I’m reminded of the messages Mary gives in various apparitions. I’m thinking specifically right now of La Salette and how she speaks of the holding the heavy hand of God back from delivering justice and how our prayers work so powerfully and invisibly in doing just that.
This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!
This post made me stop and close my eyes and pray. Thanks for this!
This is really great! Thank you 🙂 <3
One of your very best and most inspiring posts! Thanks for listening to the Holy Spirit.
This is so beautiful Kelly.
I’m a tourist in the special needs parenting world. The first 3 years of my son’s life were filled with doctors, surgeries, medication, etc., but in the past year and a half things have really stabilized. I credit my conversion to my son’s congenital conditions and other medical problems. I know there were so many prayers for our family during that time.
I love all of your suggestions for prayer. Especially laying it all out for God. I remember my friend telling me that she asked the Blessed Mother to help her with everything, even balancing her check book. It changed the way I thought about prayer. God in His infinite mercy is always there to listen – we can’t really nag God, just move away from Him by not engaging.
This was so helpful! I am the mother of a low functioning autistic girl and it is so inspiring to read the many ways to keep her in prayer but also other families with special needs children.
Thank you for this series of posts. We are still struggling to figure out the full extent of our baby son’s medical case, and of course we won’t understand his long-term prognosis for years. It’s been strange walking this path alone — our social network is very strong, but no one else has lived “inside” anything like this. I know I always feel calmest during the craziest, scariest weeks, and I know that has to do with being bolstered by the prayers of that community. But no one really knows what we’re going through.
I was wondering whether you’ve come across anything like a Catholic support group for families of kids with profound special needs (other than this site!). I love and appreciate my friends, and I appreciate the disease-specific support groups, but I think there’s a need (for me anyway!) for a group that’s about helping each other live this stuff out in a particularly Catholic way, as you have offered so beautifully here.
If there isn’t one yet, wanna help me start one? 🙂
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