by Marty Barnes
There is not a week that goes by that I don’t hear someone utter the phrase, “I’ll pray for you.” When our daughter is in the hospital or having a lot of issues, we hear this multiple times a day. What does this actually mean, though?
I know some people who say they will pray for you really do go home and say a prayer asking for their God to send you strength, health, and healing. However, I also know that many (maybe even most) just say this because they don’t know what else to say. I guess it’s better than the other typical responses: “Oh” (followed by the sad face) or “I’m so sorry.” What if you are not a religious person, though? How should you respond to someone praying for you and your child?
I have always been the type to question everything. While I respect organized religion, and I wish really truly that I did have blind faith, I am NOT a religious person. I was raised in a Christian household, but those were my parents’ beliefs. I DO believe in a higher power–some sort of god or gods. However, there are good and bad arguments for every flavor of religion out there. No one has sold me completely on one versus another. I believe in good and bad, right and wrong, and I follow a moral code. I, however, do NOT pray. I consider myself spiritual, not religious.
I am envious of family and friends who whole-heartedly believe that it is all in their god’s plan. I really wish I could find that kind of comfort. Out of respect for our upbringing as well as our families, we celebrate or at least acknowledge all of the traditional American pagan holidays, but not for the religious reasons.
After having a child with special needs, some people find embracing faith much easier, and I think in some cases this feels like the only option they may have. For other people like me, it makes the idea of organized religion that much harder to accept. If there is really a God with a master plan for each and every one of us, why would ANY child have to suffer?!
There is a common saying that has never set well with me, “God only gives us what we can handle.” I’m going to call BS on this one. Or the other favorite that ruffles my feathers every time,”God picks special parents for children with special needs.” Um, nope, I am not special.
I don’t believe that my child is medically involved as a punishment for something I did, nor do I see her disability as a trophy for being exceptional in some way. There was a freak accident at her birth that caused her brain injury and started us on the path we are on. It was not God smiting us, it was not a divine intervention; it was a horrible medical accident that robbed all of us of so much. I am angry that my child has to fight to stay alive every day, I am hurt that she suffers, I grieve the life we planned, but I also live every day to the fullest and I make the most out of all of the time I have with her.
I don’t mind people praying for my daughter, or even me. I have heard the stories of the power of prayer, and it certainly won’t hurt anyone one. We try some unproven medical treatments for the same reason–there is potential for improvement with no risk. So, to all of the strangers that have crossed our paths and offered to pray for us, thank you. I sincerely appreciate the prayers.