Grace for Special Needs Families: Day Two
grace to let go of expectations
READ: I Peter 1:13, I Peter 5:5, I Peter 5:10, John 1:14-18, Proverbs 10:28, Philippians 1:20
After eighteen months with special need’s child, I was taught a hard lesson about expectations. Our daughter wasn’t born into our family through blood and tears but through love and tears. At the age of two, she came to us weak, unable to walk or talk, and with extremely low muscle tone.
Eighteen months home and by far the hardest eighteen months of my entire life. Period. And not because she was difficult; but because God wanted to do something with my life and it was hard.
One Sunday afternoon God taught me about expectations. Those early days were steeped in hard moments. I was still learning how to be her mommy, and she was learning how to be a daughter too. Sundays were the worst. With the hustle and bustle of the nursery, she just couldn’t handle any small change. On a normal day she was good, but on Sundays, we just started to expect the crying, screaming, and tears on Sundays.
Sometimes changing our expectations changes everything. Especially our responses.
Not all special need’s moms might get this, but I struggle with how much to expect her to do on her own and how much to help her. I expect her to be a certain way, but expectations are often misplaced. Just because she can, doesn’t mean she will - and that has had to be ok. I have expectations for myself like: I’ll be more patient! I’ll be more kind! I’ll not miss any appointments! Too bad I let myself down ALL OF THE TIME.
Today she is three years home. The expectations for myself, for her, and for those around us have changed in three years. No longer do I expect people to be polite and not ask questions. The expectations I once had for my other children have softened. What I expect from her has shifted.
God’s been teaching me that expectations will only let me down. Letting go of expectations means to give me grace for mistakes and give her grace when she doesn’t reach milestones like I think she should.
The only one who will never let me down is God. If my child’s growth, other’s responses, or my own parenting skills are placed against a measuring stick of expectations, I’ll be forever disappointed. Disappointed in myself. Disappointed in others. Disappointed in my daughter.
Instead, God is teaching me three truths about letting go of expectations.
1. Find Security in God
Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:13
Our ultimate security and hope for the future is found in God. Resting in this hope is how we let go of expectations.
2. True Surrender Matters
In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. I Peter 5:5
Grace in our circumstances will emerge when we humble ourselves. Holding on to expectations is a form of pride. God will lavishly cover us with His grace as we humbly submit to His daily will for our lives.
3. Strength Will Come
The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. I Peter 5:10
Momma of a special needs child: I get it! You are so tired and exhausted. Many times you found yourself utterly weak from unmet expectations. God’s grace reminds us it is God who will restore, establish, strengthen, and support you. Look to Him!
Use these passages (and the ones listed below) to begin letting go of expectations. Do it daily and remember one day at a time.
1. What does John 1:14-18 tell us about grace and Jesus? How does Jesus’ coming to earth give us comfort in letting go of our expectations?
2. What is a good expectation, according to Proverbs 10:28 & Phil. 1:20?
3. What expectation about your special need’s child do you need to let go?
4. Pray and ask the Lord to give you the grace to let go of the expectations you have for yourself.