A Handicapped Heart

Lately I have been reflecting on the countless lessons the Lord taught me during the years that I cared for my oldest son, Justin, after he was left severely brain damaged from a lack of oxygen at age five. As the twentieth anniversary of that event approaches and I have been writing about that season in my life, I am amazed, awed, and forever grateful of how the Lord used Justin to open my eyes to the appalling condition of my own heart, to pry my fingers from the gifts in my hand and lift my eyes and my heart to the giver of all things, and to mold and shape my heart and my life.

When Justin came home from the hospital my world was turned upside down.  He could no longer walk or talk. He couldn’t feed himself or even hold his head upright, and because of the damage to his brain and nervous system, he cried uncontrollably and inconsolably for hours on end.  I remember becoming very angry at him after my efforts to calm him proved futile and my heart would seem to be void of compassion as I looked on him with detachment and wondered if I even loved him.

Then guilt and grief would come crushing down upon me and I would drop to my knees and cry out to God.  During those early years my prayers were always that the Lord would heal my son, that he would restore his voice, his ability to communicate, and his ability to exert self-control; I wanted the Lord to remove this trial and to take it from me.  I did not want to raise a handicapped son. I wanted my whole and perfect little boy back and I was angry that God had taken the child I once had from me.

Then one day after an angry outburst, I found myself locked in the bathroom on my knees in tears crying out to God in a prayer of complaint. I cried about how awful it was to have a child who would never grow up, who would never feed himself, who would never eat from our table and I begged the Lord to heal my son of his handicaps.  Instantly, Paul’s words to the Corinthian church came to mind as he said to them, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”  I suddenly realized that I was the one who was handicapped; I was the one who was still unable to eat meat from the table; it was my heart that was immature and weak; I was the one who needed to be helped and healed.

In desperation, I began to pray that God would help me to control my anger and that He would replace my anger with compassion and love. It did not happen instantly and many times I would stumble as anger and frustration poured out of my wounded heart, but I would run back to my Heavenly Father and once more ask for help and healing, fully convinced of my own inability to change myself. Gradually, the Lord did heal my heart and slowly He replaced my anger with compassion and a deep love for my son.

Although Justin has been gone several years, as I reflect on his life, the Lord continues to use those lessons to mold and shape my heart and I continue to praise Him for that journey which he allowed me to travel with a beautiful, little, red-headed boy named Justin.

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About sheilacampbell

Like all people, my life is multi faceted. I have been a mom for twenty-eight years, raising three wonderful children to young adults. I have been also been a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. I love my Lord; I love the life He has given me and I write about the things I love.
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14 Responses to A Handicapped Heart

  1. Betty Jayne Castle says:

    Dear Sheila, I always love to read your writings. You always inspire me and lift me up. I am so glad God brought you and your dear family into my life long ago. You have been such a blessing to me and I know to countless others. God bless you richly as you continue to touch lives through the life you live daily and through your writings. Love & Prayers, Betty Jayne

  2. Sheila, Thank you for using your writing to point those of us around you to THE ONE! I leave this post not only with tears in my eyes, but resolve to embrace whatever comes my way today as manna from Heaven. Love ya! Julie

  3. Edwin (Ed) Meschkat says:

    Dear Sheila, Great testimony, and very heartening. I was just reading a while ago in Psalm 84:
    vss. 5 & 6: “Blessed is the one whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the hi-ways of
    Zion (Literal translation). Who passing through the valley of Baca (Pro: Baw-kaw) make it a well;
    the rain also filleth the pools.”
    The valley of Baca is symbolic of any place of tears or weeping. Spurgeon wrote: “God Himself
    fills the pools with His presence and solace.” His presence and sustaining grace make each
    experience more sweet and full.”Spurgeon: “We grow as we advance if heaven be our goal.”

    Man is blessed: When his strength is in God. Strength to believe, strength to obey, strength to
    suffer. When God’s “ways are in him.” “The highways of Zion”, etc. When the doctrines,
    precepts, and promises of God are deeply engraved upon the heart.” (From Spurgeon).
    Your’s eternally in Him, Ed Meschkat

  4. Marella says:

    Sheila, thank you for sharing so openly about the struggles you have had and the lessons you learned. Your life is an inspiring example of how God, in His faithfulness, uses difficult circumstances to expose our sin, crush us, and then shape us more closely to the image of His Son. It takes broken glass to make a beautiful mosaic.

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  6. Melissa says:

    “to pry my fingers from the gifts in my hand and lift my eyes and my heart to the giver of all things”

    I read these words as I was miscarrying my little one and they were so right on. These babies the Lord blesses me with are His not mine. Thank you for this article.

    • Melissa, I am so sorry for your loss. This is a quote from Stepping Heavenward that you might find encouraging. “I think I may say of my happiness that it rests on something higher and deeper than even my husband and children: The will of God, the sweet will of God. If He should take them all away, I might still possess a peace which would flow on forever….however, consenting to suffer does not annul the suffering.”

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