Carrying Our Cross in Community, by Heidi Indahl
“As they were marching out, they came upon a man of Cyre’ne, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.”
Whenever I hear this scripture, I am struck by two things. First, even Jesus needed someone to help him carry his cross. Secondly, not only did Jesus need help, but his greatest enemies and persecutors recognized the need and provided for it.
If Jesus needed help, why do I always slip into thinking I can do without? If even Roman soldiers can be used to provide help, why do I continue to doubt the ways and means God may use to provide me with support?
It is easy for me to moan and groan about the big things that don’t happen, the big helps that don’t come. The way no one has come to rescue us from the daily struggles of living with the very real demands of our daughter’s diagnosis. If only I had someone else to take care of all the day to day stuff so I could focus more on Lucie. If only someone would focus on Lucie so I could do the day to day. We serve a big God, he could provide that if he wanted, right?
How quickly I forget the little ways that people help us carry our cross every single day. Doctors who respond to emails quickly and squeeze in appointments for medication changes. Case managers who find creative ways to fund projects that will make life safer for Lucie and for our other kids. Therapists who carefully balance the real and the ideal of various supports. I used to discount this type of help because they are “just doing their job”, but then I look at those Roman soldiers and think again. Duty does not negate the impact of the help provided.
And what about people in our community who do things like saying hi to Lucie and being patient with her hugs and sometimes difficult to understand language. They may have done nothing practical for me, but they have made the world of difference in including and accepting her. Many people go even further and invite her to sit with their family during meals, ignoring the motor skills deficiencies and just cleaning up afterwards. We are part of a faith based community that gathers each month and without their commitment to including Lucie as she is, participating would be that much harder.
Would a housekeeper be nice? I’d say you have no idea, but I’m sure you do! It would be really nice. But maybe, just maybe, the lack of a housekeeper is God’s way of teaching me that help can look like a lot of things. Community works together in small ways just as often as in large ones.
Recognizing this fact encourages me on difficult days, but it also reminds me that it isn’t always about grand gestures of support. I know no group more giving than that of other special needs parents. We share in this cross and recognize it in others in our community. The smiles of encouragement and shoulders to cry on are just as important as all of the practical help in the world.
The special needs cross is heavy at times, but we are never carrying it alone.