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Why My Path is Different From Yours

I know better than to compare my son to his peers, who have no special needs. But the desire for affirmation, to know that we’re ok (because most days, it honestly feels like we are all but ok), has often led me to the comparison trap, even comparing my child and myself to other special needs families. Though some of us, who have children with special needs, seem to walk side by side, we each have our own path to follow. And even though I might know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, it’s good to know we are hiking along different trails.

At a time when you don’t want to feel alone in your hardship, why is this a good thing?

Special Needs Mom, Don't compare.

Because We Are Different

I’m a checklist-dependent, time-obsessed, overly organized control freak. But that all changed when I had children. The constant changes that come from having children in your life fought against every part of my Type A personality. And the way I handle my son’s special needs may be different from the way you respond to yours. But that difference could be useful. When I face the same battles day in and day out, my reactions can sometimes be on auto-pilot. But seeing how a friend handles her special needs child allows me to see these challenges from a different angle and perhaps change my responses for the better.

Because Our Children Are Different

The world of special needs covers such a wide spectrum of disabilities and challenges. Some are physically exhausting, while others zap your mental energy. Some disabilities are visible, while others are only apparent to those who get close enough to notice. Some children are high-functioning with the potential to be more independent, while others will likely need assistance for the rest of their lives. We can find hope, encouragement, and inspiration from each other’s stories, but it makes no sense to compare our children’s progress. Their successes will occur at different times and to different degrees, and we will celebrate them all.

Because God Works in a Variety of Ways

It had been a while since I checked my social media feed, but something gripped me, pierced me right in the center of the most tender part of my emotions. Not at all prepared for the sudden outpouring of tears, I strained to hold them back until I relocated to another room, away from any possible inquiry from my children.

What I read was a brief account of a child with special needs, who had made leaps and bounds beyond what others expected. The post was full of hope and rejoicing and did not warrant the sorrowful reaction I gave it. But for that moment, I grieved. I grieved for the mountains that my own child had not scaled, the doors that were not opened for him, and the obstacles that remained in his path.

But my husband wouldn’t let me dwell too long on the comparisons, knowing it’s an exercise in futility. He reminded me that God is working in that family as He is in ours. It won’t look exactly the same.

We are different.

Our children are different.

But we have the same God, working in a variety of ways to bring about the same glorious outcome.

“On earth, the underside of the tapestry was tangled and unclear; but in heaven, we will stand amazed to see the topside of the tapestry and how God beautifully embroidered each circumstance into a pattern for our good and His glory.”
~ Joni Erickson Tada

15 thoughts on “Why My Path is Different From Yours”

  1. I love that quote from Joni Erickson Tada. Your post reminds me of that line of Aslan’s from the Horse and His Boy that no one is told any story but his own. We all have our own place in God’s story, and God works in our lives in different ways. But his grace is always sufficient for our point of need.

  2. I appreciate the detailed format of your posts. Thank you for the reminder that each one of us has a different calling and a different walk…the great thing is that God will lead us all through whatever path he has called for us. Thank you.

  3. Comparison is hard to quit, but I’ve recently realized it’s sin. It’s not keeping our eyes on our own race or God. I don’t know that it’s a sin I’ll ever quit completely, but realizing that it is not trusting God to give me what is best for me helps me break the cycle.

  4. When I find myself making comparisons with others, my mind goes to a conversation recorded in John 21. Upset when Jesus described the way Peter would one day die, Peter saw John and asked, “Lord, what about him?” In verse 21, Jesus responded with a question and challenge all servants of Christ must face: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Yep, remembering Jesus’s sobering response generally snaps me right out of the comparison trap! 🙂

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