Thursday, July 23, 2009

Welcome to Holland

Below is a story that was written by Emily Perl Kingsley for parents/caregivers of children with special needs upon receiving the child’s initial diagnosis.

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability to try to help people understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this:
When you are going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michaelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, Welcome to Holland.
HOLLAND?! You say. What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would have never met.
It’s just a different place. Its slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But, after you've been there for a while you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned.
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

I think it describes perfectly how I have been feeling lately. I had a plan, and in my mind all the details were worked out. I knew where I was headed and how I was getting there. However, my plan obviously did not coincide with God’s plan, because He shattered it into a million pieces. It is not that I am upset about no longer having “my plan” but, instead, I am having difficulty accepting God’s plan as it is the total opposite of mine. Now, this is where Scripture comes into play because I’ve had to really read my bible in order to gain God’s wisdom and peace in this situation. I am still in shock and disbelief about it all, but I am slowly coming around to acceptance. I know God only wants the best for me, and although I can’t understand right now, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8), I have the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

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