“Why Did God Make Me This Way?”

“God has created me to do Him some definite service.” Those words came from Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified this September. He continues “I have my mission. I may not know what it is in this life but I shall be told in the next. . . He has not created me for naught. . . Wherever I am, whatever I do, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me – still God knows what He is about.”

Those words apply not only to us, but also to our children. One of the roles of a parent is to help a child discern his or her vocation, not only in terms of marriage or religious life, but job choice as well. I’ve been reading You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado. The whole point of the book is that God has given you a specific purpose and the gifts to fulfill that purpose. The key to finding joy in life is to look at your gifts and figure out where you belong. And so, as my children grow up, I try to look at their gifts and steer them in the right direction.

I know that the final decision of what they do with their lives resides with them. They will no doubt take several career paths in their lives. This process is made more complicated by the fact that my older son has some recently diagnosed special needs. We always knew he was “different,” that life was a little harder for him than for other kids (and by extension, for us). Yet, the formal diagnosis of that fact has caused me to reevaluate his future. What is possible for him? Where will life take him?

He asked me “Why did God make me this way?” It broke my heart. It hurts to know that you are different simply by virtue of your birth. It hurts to see your child hurting. I had no good answer except to tell him that God made him that way for a reason, that he does have a special purpose in this world. While, at this moment, I’m not sure what that is, like Cardinal John Henry Newman, I trust that God knows what he is doing.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur writes from western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two sons. A Senior Editor with Catholic Lane.com, she blogs at http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com

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  • http://www.explainingchristianity.com Shane Kapler

    This is beautiful Patricia – a word of wisdom that the entire Body needs absorb and live. Thank you so much for allowing the Holy Spirit to bring this to us; it recasts the way we see everything. I’ll add that I am a special education teacher, as well as a dad, and I can’t imagine a better answer than the one you gave your son. I will make an effort to remember him along with my own kids when I pray the Rosary each day, that they continually recognize God’s beautiful Love for them personally.

  • Marcia

    Patricia, Thank you for the article. The answeer you gave your son was beautiful. I have a 15-year old daughter who has Down Syndrome. I ask myself the same questions over and over: What is possible for her? Where will life taker her? I already know one thing for sure, one of the purposes of her life has been to increase my faith and my love, as I had never loved like this before. That may not help her, but I also know that God would not have created her and then abandon her, so I know she will be surrounded enough by those who love and care for her. She has certainly experienced rejection and has been “left” out. My heart has been broken, also, when she knows that; so, I tell her she is loved first of all by God and by so many people. I tell her that 7th and 8th-grade girls don’t know how to love as well, yet, so just keep being kind. It sounds like your son has a wonderful mother, who will help guide him to where he needs to be.

  • Claire

    Patrice, thank you for sharing this. I will be praying for your son. The unknown future is so hard, especially for mothers who tend to be worriers even under the best of circumstances.

  • pfmacarthur

    Thank you all for your kind words. My son has been diagnosed with Aspergers and I feel like I’ve been thrown into a whole new world. I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers so much.

    Patrice

  • Claire

    I’m so sorry Patrice. I know that it’s a very overwhelming diagnosis. I’m sure you have been told that people with Asbergers can lead very normal lives, but it is certainly challenging. I will continue to pray for you.

  • dkpalaska

    God bless you. Our oldest son has also been diagnosed with Asperger’s. And I have been feeling drawn to read more of Cardinal John Henry Newman’s words for several months. Obviously a prompt from the Holy Spirit!

    It is so very hard at times. Yet, as you say, our special-needs children too have a purpose, a special reason for existing that is known to God and yet may not ever be known to us, at least in this life. Although – similar to Marcia’s experience – my son has certainly already made me a holier person: more patient, more compassionate, more humble than my neurotypical kids could probably ever have managed to produce in me.

    Again, God bless you! Thank you for writing so honestly about this.

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