“This was going to be the most humbling and rewarding speaking engagement yet because when I stepped into this room I saw a whole lot of hope, faith, and most importantly love.” – Ivan Connor
These words impacted me profoundly. And I wasn’t immediately sure why.
I heard these words spoken at the special assembly at the ATHPS for Special Education Week 2014 activities in Anguilla. They were the opening words of the guest speaker Ivan Connor. More than twelve hours later I still cannot stop thinking about these words.
When I began to ponder why I was so affected my thoughts went back to the morning and how it began. The life of a parent of a child with special needs is not an easy one. And mornings are particularly challenging. It takes twice as long to do normal getting ready for the day activities and waking up extra early never ends up being early enough to get you ready on time. Stepping out the door late sets the stress level a bit higher and brings a feeling of failure (to be on time) before you’ve even gotten your day started. Once you arrive at your destination, getting your special needs child out of the car to where you need to be is often physically challenging if your child can’t walk and emotionally challenging when everyone stares at the behaviour of your challenged child. Being able to slump down in your seat is often a relief from the eyes staring at you and the weight of physically supporting your child. Finally at your destination you are completely exhausted. Completely exhausted is exactly how I felt when I finally got my daughter and I seated for the special assembly. I was hardly able to give the proper attention to the presentations which were prepared by the teachers and children with special needs.
As the guest speaker, Mr. Ivan Connor stood to speak, he began by saying these words,
“This was going to be the most humbling and rewarding speaking engagement yet because when I stepped into this room I saw a whole lot of hope, faith, and most importantly love.”
I have not stopped thinking about these words. And finally, in pondering, I realize that what Mr. Connor said, meant that my exhaustion, my failure, my inability, was seen in that room as hope, faith, and most importantly love. And that stops me in my tracks. It turns me upside down. That means that the hard life of a parent of a child
with special needs is all hope, faith, and most importantly love.
After hearing Mr. Connor’s opening words, I sat through the rest of the assembly attentive and with a huge smile on my face. And at the time I didn’t even know why. But now I know. It took hearing those words to show me what I couldn’t see myself. That my exhaustion is hope, my failure is faith, and my inability is love. And how that makes my heart sing. May I never forget.
So grateful to Mr. Connor for his powerful words, and so grateful to God for showing me what they mean. When I am not able, God is more than able and He gives peace and joy in the midst. Amen.
Originally written March 2014