During the weeks leading up to Inclusion Fusion, we’re introducing our readers to disability ministry leaders doing great work who will be participating in this year’s Web Summit. Jeff Davidson was part of our last Web Summit, and will be joining us again this year.
You can chat live with Jeff this coming Thursday at 8:30-10:00 PM Eastern time at our Front Door Online Church site while viewing Jeff as he speaks about the differences in men and women as it relates to being parents of a child with special needs. Here’s Jeff…
I get asked all the times by parents of children with special needs how to get dads more involved and engaged. Here’s an easy way, dads.
Dads, your words contain the power of life and death.
Parents, you have got to be speaking words of life over your kids every day. Your kids will believe whatever you say about them. Your child will become whatever he or she believes. And what they believe about themselves will be determined by what you speak over them. They will become whatever the voices they hear say about them. So make a point, every day, to speak positively and affirm your child.
At sixteen my son is nonverbal. Barring a miracle, he won’t be able to stand up at my funeral and tell the world how proud I was of him. But rest assured, he knows it. And that’s all that matters. We can talk about it in heaven someday.
I love my son just the way he is because my dad loves me just the way I am. Not because of anything I have done, or am doing, or will ever do. I learned unconditional love for my son because my dad loves me unconditionally.
My friends, this is the essence of how God loves us. We don’t earn it, we don’t do anything to deserve it—he just lavishes it on us simply because we are his children.
There is nothing we can do that will earn us more love from him or make him love us more. He loves us simply because we are his children.
I am still amazed and astonished to realize that as much as I love Jon Alex, God loves him even more than I do. I cannot imagine it possible to love my son more than I do, but God does.
At first, it was difficult coming to terms with laying down my dreams. Like any special needs dad, it’s hard emotionally to reach the point where you realize the dreams, goals, and plans you had for your child aren’t going to happen the way you hoped. But whose dream was it anyway? It wasn’t God’s dream.
This is where the choice happens for dads. You can choose to spend the rest of your life wallowing in the “Why” and grieving the dead dreams. Most men choose this route. At the end of their journey, they find they have been following a dead-end street that goes nowhere.
Or you can go down the road marked “How.” How are we going to rise above this situation and still find the glory and purpose that God has in this? How can we use this different dream to still find fulfillment and joy?
My son will never do anything that makes me love him anymore than I already do. I love him because he is my son.
I made him. I created him. He was formed in my image. And for that, I love him unconditionally. Nothing he can ever do will make me love him any more than I already love him. If all he ever does in life is just be my son, that is enough. My love for him is unconditional.
I got that from my dad. Not just the one here on earth, but the One who made all of us as well.”
–Excerpted from No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches: a father, a son with special needs, and their journey with God
I wrote this book because I too am a special-needs parent. There was a pivotal time in my life that I felt God had wrecked my life by choosing me to be the father of a child with special-needs. I struggled, like so many other parents, with denial, blame and anger. At the time, I did not realize that I had been given a gift. God had chosen me to receive a masterpiece.
God sent a broken child into a broken world to a broken father so that together they would find God in their brokenness. This book is not about our story. This book is about the story of God and I hope it helps other special-needs families realize their part in the telling of God’s story.
Jeff Davidson is an author and pastor who enjoys speaking at churches, conferences, events and to groups, ministering to special needs families and individuals. Jeff and his wife Becky started Rising Above Ministries when they realized the incredible gift and blessing their own son with special needs (Jon Alex) was to them. Jeff’s book, No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches, is available through Crosslink Publishing, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.