On Helping Without Condescending

My last entry focused on the many insecurities I am feeling now that I am working in a new job and out of my comfort zone.  I know I am not alone in my feelings of insecurity.  Families living with hidden disabilities struggle more than typical families with almost every decision we make.  Each day, I need to ask God for wisdom as I decide whether to rush in to help my husband with a difficulty he’s facing or determine whether I should let him handle it himself.  That sounds so easy.  But when dealing with hidden disabilities, it opens up a Pandora’s Box of issues that so many people like me address on a daily basis.

If I rush in to help my husband, I worry that I am enabling him.  If I allow him to handle things on his own, I fear I am being callous and inconsiderate of all the challenges he is facing.

My husband, too, is a huge part of this equation. He is so much more than his disability.  He is a person.  I continually need to take his feelings into consideration.  Naturally, all wives should be considerate of their hubands’ feelings. But Ben’s disability adds another layer to our already bloomin’ onion.  He is acutely aware when my help borders on condescension.  He is painfully hurt when I distance myself from him, whether it is because I want to help him, or, in too many cases, when I just don’t want to get involved.

When I try to help him, he feels as though his own contributions are minimized. I can easily make him feel “less than whole.”  He is dealing with enough issues trying to handle his disability; he does not need his wife (or worse, his children) babying him and trying to do everything for him. But when I step back, he can feel even more alone, as though he is trying to steer a boat without a rudder.  He needs me, but he doesn’t want to always feel like he needs me.  And somehow, I need to provide guidance, support, love — and yes, practical help, without continually acting superior or frustrated…without reminding him that he needs me.

What a weird relationship.

We cannot manage without God.  It is only by God’s grace that we are able to navigate this complex maze of marriage with Ben’s brain injury. It is only by God’s grace that we are able to maintain this family life.  I need wisdom in discerning how to be a helper without being condescending.  I need God’s Spirit to help me model loving care to my husband so that my children do not grow up viewing their father as damaged or compromised.  And we both need God’s Spirit to extend patience and ever-flowing forgiveness towards one another as we make poor choices, hurt each other unintentionally, and forgive each other daily as Christ has forgiven us.

Often I am overwhelmed by what God is calling me to do.  But I know that He WILL provide grace, He WILL provide wisdom, He WILL provide forgiveness, and He DOES provide His Spirit to walk with me as I navigate this unexpected path of hidden disabilities.  I am so thankful I am not walking this road alone.  1 Corinthians 15:57:  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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