Special Priviledge

I would like to confess to you a recent realization: I am the product of Special Needs Privilege.  You’ve heard all kinds of privileges being thrown around as accusations lately, but this one is probably not at the top of the list.  However, I’m now fully aware that such a thing exists, and I’m one of its victims.  Over the past 16 years as a special needs mom, I have operated under the assumption that I have it a little more difficult that most.  I assume that because people tell me so.  I look around and see that I’ve gotta work a lot harder and longer than the other moms I know.  Our challenges are extraordinary compared to the other families on our block, in our church, around our community. But  I’m operating under the mindset that comes from Special Needs Privilege.

Special Needs Privilege is what happens when one of the top geneticists in the country delivers your child’s diagnosis.  It’s how you process information when a renowned neurologist checks in with you every six months.  At the pinnacle,  you find yourself on  your millionth visit to Disney World enjoying the Disability Access Card so you can skip all the lines.    Special Needs Privilege “worries” sound like this:  He cant chew steak, so I have to make him a different protein when we bbq.  Which velcro-closure shoes will be easiest for him to don?   Should we include a urinal in his bathroom when we remodel the shower?   As much as we may think having a special child is difficult here in the US, it’s really not. That list I just threw at you is almost embarrassing.  All of our basic needs are met, we are comfortable and complete in every thing we need.  I will admit to you that I never even considered the alternative, until I met Heather Meyer Gabaud of Footprints of the Son in Haiti.  Heather heads a ministry outreach and school for special needs children and their parents in Haiti.  Yeah, let that just sink in for a minute: Special Needs Families in Haiti.  ( I could burst into tear just at that thought).

What if I had to fret over clean water for Nick each day?  What if my precious son slept on a mat inside a home built with twigs and mud.  Do you know that our biggest concern during Hurricane prep was making sure Nick’s ipad battery was fully charged?  The parents whose children attend Footprints of the Son school had very different hurricane prep concerns.  Will our house survive? Will all of us survive?  Will we find food afterwards?  I’m not guessing at these things, or exaggerating for effect.  I saw the photos of the families being notified that a storm was coming.  The Footprints of the Son volunteers went door to door because their students didn’t have the Weather Channel playing round-the-clock on their flatscreen TV.  You get the picture.

I’m not condemning my privilege at all.  I thank God for where I am and how I get to raise my kids.  But I must allow myself to be moved by this truth, acknowledge how blessed I am, and be aware of the responsibility that comes with my privilege. After spending several months studying the writing of James, I can tell you his entire letter (the whole book) was about recognizing our “privilege” as followers of Christ, and sharing it with others. Not  simply sharing it through words or philosophy, but through ACTION.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. – James 1:25-27 MSG
Here’s what I’m doing, and why I’m writing today:  I must put action to my privilege.  I am blessed to be a blessing to others.  I will respond.
 Footprints of the Son serves 95 total families of children with special needs in a small area of Haiti called Terrier Rouge.  They have 75 students at their school, with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities.  Even before Hurricane Matthew, the school and their families would have an uphill struggle for the school year, which began this past Tuesday.  But Matthew, which spared Terrier Rouge the brunt of it’s destructive forces, took out virtually all of the agricultural areas of the island.  Food will be even more difficult and costly to find.  Before the storm, may of their students were assured of only one meal per day – school lunch.  After the storm that likelyhood is greatly increased.
JOIN ME! On Saturday, October 22nd, our family will eat Rice & Beans for dinner. We usually go out, or order out, on Saturdays.  Instead we’ll eat a very typical Haitian meal and reflect on our privilege – our blessings – and what life would be like without them.  We’ll talk about Haiti, about poverty, and about a world that needs Jesus – translated – a world where Jesus calls US to be His hands and feet.  Then we’ll calculate what we normally would spend on Saturday night dinner, and donate that amount to Footprints of the Son, to raise funds that will cover their school lunch budget for one year!!!  Can you imagine? Something so simple, when joined with others,  can make a huge difference.
I thank God every morning for the privilege of being a special needs mom where He has called me, and I am also asking Him to help me impact others who are much less privileged than I.   His perspective changes everything.   If you’re joining us for dinner next Saturday PLEASE leave a comment below.
Here is the link to make your donation: Food For Footprints

Sweet Footprints of the Son students





4 thoughts on “Special Priviledge

  1. This is Great Mel! No matter our circumstances, everyday enjoy and partake in the blessings that many don’t have the privilege to claim. Our reality is much different from theirs. Thank you for shedding light on and calling us out to become a blessing to others. My family will be joining you and yours on Oct 22 and making a donation.


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