I am often asked what is the best thing I can do to help my friend who has a child with special needs or struggling with a life-threatening illness. Never have I answered, “Well, what they really need is more information about their child’s disability or a governmental program that is available for them. Now, don’t get me wrong, in the world of special needs parenting, information is invaluable. But it’s not just about the facts and figures. It’s about the human touch, your personal presence, and your empathy. That is what becomes the conduit to life-giving, life-changing information. Simply put, they need you, your company, your love, and your compassion.
I love the following quote by J. Robert Oppenheimer,
“The best way to send information is to wrap it up in a person.”
This quote speaks volumes. It reminds us that while resources are crucial, personal connections are the true game-changer. Your presence destroys loneliness and the life-sucking power of isolation.
In my personal faith, Jesus modeled the power of showing up. He didn’t just send scrolls of wisdom; he walked with people, listened to their struggles, and offered a shoulder to lean on. He took on flesh to show how much he loved us. I love the Message translation of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” I wonder how we might do a better job of “moving into the neighborhoods” of our friends and neighbors who have kids with special needs or those struggling with life-threatening illnesses.
Here are some practical things you can do to “move into the neighborhood” of your friends and neighbors:
- Be a Listening Ear: Sometimes, a special needs parent needs someone who listens without judgment. Offer your time and a compassionate heart.
- Offer Practical Help: From cooking a meal to running an errand, small gestures can significantly impact parents’ daily lives.
- Join Them: Attend therapy sessions, school meetings, or outings. Your presence not only supports them practically but emotionally also
- Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about their child’s condition. This shows genuine interest and helps you offer more meaningful support.
Wrap up your care, understanding, and desire to make a difference in your presence, and watch the positive impact you can make in their lives.