Raising a child with special needs can be exhausting. You won’t find anyone in our circle of parenthood disagreeing with that. We can easily empathize with the mother who is discouraged and worn down, or the frustrated father who feels he can’t do enough for his family. We knowingly nod when we read articles admonishing us to engage in better self-care.
However, I would also say that we parents can end up unwittingly becoming an awful lot like the Dead Sea.
At 1,300 feet below seas level, the Dead Sea is the lowest body of water on the earth, and it continues to sink as much as 13 inches per year. At its saltiest points, the mineral content is 10 times saltier than any ocean. Because of its density, no typical life can dwell within it, only bacteria and algae that have adapted to extreme conditions. The density also makes this body of water pretty unfavorable for swimming — Visitors only float along.*
What makes the Dead Sea so strangely unique? First, it’s low elevation can be attributed to being situated in a tectonic rift. In other words, the Sea is located right where the earth’s crust is coming apart. Second, while the sea has rivers flowing into it, none flow out. In its stagnancy, the only way water leaves is by evaporating, leaving its mineral deposits behind.*
When our lives are coming apart, much like the world’s crust, we can be left feeling emotionally and socially lower than the world swirling around us. But it’s our stagnancy that can leave us useless for much more than floating along through our days. While people may pour into us with encouragement, support, help with meals or cleaning, and spiritual edification, we become little more than a Dead Sea if we do not allow what flows to us to flow through us.
A number of years ago, our ministry sought to remedy some of that stagnancy by developing a unique mentor curriculum and program. The goal was to grow parents in both practical and spiritual ways. We wanted to support and escort parents through a place of tragedy to a place of triumph, from feelings of grief to appreciating life’s gifts. In other words, our mission was to bless parents in order that they might become blessings to others just like them. Since that time, we’ve seen mothers pour into others, sharing laughter, wisdom, and a knowing comfort that only one who has been on the same journey can offer.
It can become way too easy in our exhaustion to behave more like a sponge and less like a waterfall. We can unwittingly fix our eyes on ourselves and our crises to the point where we develop an attitude of entitlement, wanting the world to dance around our every need. Yet, if we journey along with other parents, sharing our stories, our experiences, what we’ve learned, how God is growing us, we become more like the headwaters of the Jordan River. Our vision becomes fixed on our Source rather than self.
While the stagnancy and buoyancy of being a “Dead Sea” may seem more attractive when we are at our lowest, coming apart at the seams, we deprive ourselves greatly when we stay there. Vibrancy and life are most fully experienced when we are more like the Jordan River, passing our clarity and nourishment on to others.
So, which one are you? Who are you blessing on your journey? What are you allowing to flow through you to other parents on this same journey?
To learn more about Snappin’ Ministries Side-By-Side Mentoring Small Groups, visit www.snappin.org.
*Dead Sea facts courtesy of ExtremeScience