The sharp words that flew from my lips struck their mark with deadly accuracy. My young son looked up at me, tortured eyes looking much older than his tender years. We were working through yet another language arts program and it was not sticking any more than the myriad of others we had tried.
At 12, he exhibited all of the signs of being mildly dyslexic. We had gone through our local school district for testing four years prior. They subjected him to a variety of tests, observed him, and told me he was ‘fine’. A kid who, at 8 years old, could not spell the word ‘by’ after a week of study was fine? Harumph.
I politely thanked the experts and continued my own research. I figured that if it looked, walked, and quacked like a duck it likely was. So I spent the next four years trying every curriculum marketed to dyslexics that I could get my hands on. We hammered phonics, basic grammar, spelling, and reading. This was war, by golly, and I was determined to win.
My son, usually so sunny and eager to please, put his head down on his desk. I felt a pang of regret at my sharp tone. His voice was muffled behind his folded arms, but his words were as clear as if he’d shouted them.
“I wish I was dead.”
Have you ever had one of those moments when the world seems to literally stop spinning? Time has no relevance, and thought processes suddenly possess a clarity they had lacked only moments before. In that one horrifying blip when his words pierced my heart, I knew it was time to concede and raise the white flag.
Regardless, full surrender took some time. I felt adrift and confused. I didn’t know what angle to take concerning his education. I took him to an independent tester who confirmed what I already knew. My son has a language based learning disability. He processes the written word differently than most and will likely struggle with this to some degree his whole life. However, this tester did some extra analysis and found that his logic and strategic abilities were in the ‘very superior’ range.
I felt the Lord was showing me something very important that I had somehow lost sight of. The Creator of the universe had not made a mistake when He crafted this son of mine. He had fashioned this boy with many gifts. My son, who displayed empathy at a far younger age than the experts say is possible, who was born with an innate sense of God’s loving presence, who is skilled with people and video games; this young man was made precisely the way my Lord was pleased to make him.
All my years of striving were, in reality, counterproductive. My research, the endless parade of curriculum, the testing, were not wrong in and of themselves. After all, it is our responsibility to be the best advocate for our children that we can be. However, I could see that I had been trusting in these things. I had been counting on these things to somehow fix my boy.
Lord, help me.
There was nothing to fix but my skewed perception of what intelligence is. It was my fragmented view of what normal looks like that needed changing. But more importantly, it was where I placed my trust that needed a complete overhaul.
I asked God for wisdom, and against my screaming instincts, I stopped trying to force the ‘required’ learning. I stopped focusing on my son’s areas of weakness and began searching for strengths that I could nurture. We have since discovered talents in theater, dance, chess, and more. As I’ve watched him grow from defeated little boy to confident young man, I see the foolishness of my thinking.
No more trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. Such a misguided attempt to make it fit does nothing more than disfigure the square peg. I’d rather take my ‘square peg’ and help guide him into being the best him he can be.
According to the world’s standards my son has a defect; perhaps a bit of faulty wiring in the brain or a genetic abnormality. But I trust that the Master Creator made my son exactly the way it pleased Him most. He made my son different, not defective. When I do trust this truth, I see my son shine. I see the wonder of this beautifully made young man. On the days where trust is nowhere to be found and anxiety rules the day? Well, those days bring a lot of unnecessary grief to both of us.
So when I see my son’s abysmal spelling in a text message, I will choose to pray blessing on the inventor of spell check. When state testing time rolls around and I’m tempted to worry, I will remember that God’s purpose and plan for my boy will not be thwarted. When others tell me what my son needs to succeed I must trust what I know to be true.
My God’s got this.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
I’m sharing this post over at #TheLoft. This week’s topic is Trust. Check out some fabulous bloggers there, or join in and link up a post of your own!