Tenacious Hospitality: Welcoming the Unwelcomed

by PammyMcB

The lecture was presented by Maleesa Breeding and Dana Hood with guest speaker Suzetta Nut. Dr. Hood explained the purpose of the lecture as how society places the people who are grieving on the margins. She stressed that the lecture does not give answers, but only generates more questions. The lecture is based on the ongoing grief parents of children with special needs face. The first question Dr. Hood asks the audience is how Romans 12:9-16 can teach us what God has called us to do. The section of the scripture she stressed is to be willing to “associate with people of low position.”

Next, Dr. Hood read some quotes from the people who are part of these families. This part of the lecture evoked an emotional response from both the audience and myself. To me, it was more personal. I have thought and said many of the words that were up on the screen and entered my ears. My son is a child with a disability. I felt a sense of relief to realize that I am not alone in my struggles.

After the voices of the families were discussed, Dr. Hood explained that these families are involved in a never-ending cycle of the five stages of grief: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I partially agree with this. However, as we later discussed in my special education class, most families do not go through an acceptance phase. It is more of a resolution/pro-active stage of grief. To reach acceptance is the same as saying overcoming. When a child is disabled, the family can never overcome or accept the disability; because it would mean that the disability will eventually end. The disability never ends, and the affected family must learn to deal with the disability through resolution. However, Dr. Hood did state that the five stages of grief model is “too simple.” She stated that many families are faced with a sense of hopelessness, especially at times of transitions.

The next section of the lecture focused specifically on Suzetta Nut, the mother of a child with a disability as well as a gifted child. Suzetta is the children’s minister at Highland Church of Christ. She said there is no end to disabilities; and because of this parents often learn to do things they never thought they could. Suzetta talked about the fatigue, financial, and emotional stress on the families. She stressed there is typically two ways that parents approach dealing with a child with special needs. They either act the victim, or they push through and pretend as if all will be well. Suzetta later introduces a third way that parents approach the issue. This approach is one that most parents take only after the other two approaches fail. This is when the parents reach an understanding that their child will never be like other children.

As I stated earlier, parents get to a point of resolution. The third approach of Suzetta Nut’s testimony is where the resolution stage happens. I personally have taken a pro-active approach on my most recent journey through the stages of grief. I have begun to question my previous decisions to try to make my son like everyone else through the use of medications. I realize now that my son was made by God and in the state that God has intended. Who am I to question that? Like Suzetta, I have told everyone to stop praying for my son to be better and just to pray that I can cope with the disability in a compassionate, loving manner. Just as Suzetta does, I also look as my son’s life and his accomplishments as a miracle of God. Suzetta’s experiences have reached me. I know that I can face anything as long as I keep faith in God, and remember that my son is a child of God.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. ~ Romans 12:9-16