The Life We Never Expected: Andrew & Rachel Wilson
I’m gonna be honest. Right outa the gate, not even out of the Intro, this book ruffled my feathers just a bit. In fact, it was the first sentence. “This is a book about surviving, and thriving, spiritually when something goes horribly wrong.”(pg.13) I had some trouble with those two words, horribly wrong. I never want to give my son the impression that he is something that has gone horribly wrong. I don’t believe that. And I try not to live that.
BUT … I quickly remembered my best defense is a good offense. And my best defense as to not feel all the feelings in these types of books is to go on the offense. I typically steer clear of ‘these types of books.’ Anything having to do with a personal story about special needs written from a Christian perspective can hit too close to home and I quickly guard my heart. (Yes, I know I write a blog about exactly that subject. Welcome to my husband’s world of trying to figure me out.) It has taken me years to build up this hard outer shell and I work hard to not have it cracked open by ‘these types of books.’ Why? The Wilson’s actually write a great book telling all about this special need world, and how it was not what was expected …
Their book jumps right in to describing some behaviors that are all too familiar in my house. Obsessions. I’ve mentioned before, we have quite a collection of Apples to Apples cards and reusable grocery bags. We don’t leave home without them. While it hurts to read of others experiencing our same trials, it’s also somewhat of a ‘Yes!’ moment at the same time. It can be difficult to go out of the house and experience the stares and questions at times. I would love to see them out sometime with our kids both dragging along their obsessions to feel that camaraderie of our ‘normals.’
The Life We Never Expected expresses the daily grind that comes with the special needs world. The monotony of limited language when their aren’t any other adults to be found, the paperwork, the meltdowns, lack of sleep and the public embarrassments. They weave some of my favorite bible verses and add some new ones, as well. Like Malchijah of Nehemiah. It is a reminder that while special needs can be tiring, literally, our children have been given a far-reaching power to be effective for Christ. They are noticeable. People see them. We may have expected scouts or sports teams and all the ‘normal’ childhood events. But children are a blessing. Don’t doubt God’s promise, even if that promise doesn’t look like you thought it would.
The Wilson’s do a wonderful job of weaving light-hearted moments into their story. Because we know all to well this life is nothing if not comedic. One of my favorites was Rachel sharing her t-shirt idea for health professionals: “I’m not your mummy, so please don’t call me that.” How many times have I been called mom rather than Mrs. McKeever while at my son’s appointments? Is it so difficult? And it’s always in a baby-talk voice, even though Evan is practically into adulthood. Something about special needs brings it out. I loved these common moments in the book that I thought no one else experienced
I do typically struggle with reading ‘these types of books.’ They are often a reminder of the tough stuff. Sometimes they provoke jealousy in me. I see others who have more help; a bigger circle of support. Sometimes I see moms who are better at things where I wish I had that certain gift. I do better to just avoid reading things that will put my mind in a funk. But this book, The Life We Never Expected, was a joy. It admitted the tough stuff. And it always pointed me back to Christ. The Wilson’s reminded me I should fix my eyes on not what is seen, but what is unseen. (pg.148)