Special Lessons for the Special Needs of People
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Working with the special needs population has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have learned so much from watching the children I serve. I have learned about matters of the heart and of the spirit. I have also learned valuable lessons related to the special needs of people.
One of the most memorable lessons I ever learned came from a little girl named Chris. Chris was a dear, sweet child who was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy. Despite her injuries and physical differences, Chris was very outgoing, energetic, and joy-filled. She engaged in any and every activity her siblings did. A day came, however, when she decided that she wanted to do something she had never done before. Chris wanted to be a cheerleader.
To Chris’ delight, her mother found a community group that was open to allowing Chris to cheer with them. All was going well until someone asked Chris why she couldn’t straighten her arm.
Until that time, Chris had never really noticed any differences between herself and her family or friends. As far as she was concerned, her new cheer friends cheered and she cheered. They said the same chants. They had the same moves. They expressed the same enthusiastic energy for the winning team. But on that particular day when she was asked about her arm, Chris’ eyes were opened and with it her level of consciousness changed.
After the encounter, Chris’ mother noticed that she immediately withdrew into herself. She stopped talking as much. She carried her arm closer to her body. She seemingly faded into the background, believing all the while that she was “broken,” as she had expressed to her mom.
Of course, my heart was affected as soon as Chris’ mother shared the news of what happened to her with me. Even now, I can still recall Chris’ downcast face and her broken spirit. In that moment in time, my little friend perceived that she was both different and damaged. Sadly, she was so devastated that she could not move past it. She did not have the necessary coping skills to process and deal with the matter.
Thankfully, Chris’ mom was a believer and she knew of my strong faith in God. She asked me to speak with Chris, and I did. First, I listened to Chris. I held her while she shed her tears. When she finished crying, I told her about God and how He made everyone special. I also shared Philippians 4:13 with her. I told her that she could do anything through Christ. From that moment on, whenever she had a problem or had a “special need” because of her arm, I would ask her, “what does God say about that.” Without hesitation, she would always say, with 100% confidence that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
A difference was made in Chris because she changed her attitude and saw that even though she encountered problems and experienced “special need” situations, she did not have to be down or discouraged because of them. She began to believe that God would see her through her problems and that He would give her His strength as she had need. She knew that with Him, she could do anything. She trusted in Him and believed in His power.
Chris now talks to others about her experience. She is no longer self-conscious. She is quick to say she can do all things. As a result, God is glorified, Christ is proclaimed to others, and Chris is making a difference because of her special need. She has become a megaphone for the Lord.
In my eyes, she is one of the greatest cheerleaders ever. She cheers for the LORD with an I CAN DO attitude, and that beats all.
Don’t you want that kind of I CAN DO strength? Thankfully, it’s yours…in Christ.
It is through our special needs that God can be glorified. Special needs situations and circumstances allow differences to be made, not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those who get to witness our lives. Having an I CAN DO attitude is a special lesson that can be carried into eternity and straight into the arms of the Most High.