Profiles in Success—Part 1
As this special issue of Awake! has already shown, successful families are not problem free. That fact is hardly surprising, for we live in what the Bible describes as “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Problems of one sort or another are certain to arise in every family.
Remember, though, that success does not depend on having so-called ideal circumstances. On the contrary, Jesus said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) Families that fill their spiritual need by following Bible principles have found a secret to success—despite their negative circumstances. Consider some examples.
Caring for a disabled child. The Bible places a high priority on caring for family members, including those with special needs. It states: “If anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.”—1 Timothy 5:8.
On page 15, Victor, a father in South Africa, relates how he and his wife have cared for a disabled child for more than four decades.
Growing up adopted. Bible principles can help a person gain a balanced sense of self-worth—even if abandoned by his or her birth parents. Indeed, the Bible says that Jehovah God is a “helper” to those who are fatherless.—Psalm 10:14.
On page 16, Kenyatta, a young woman in the United States, describes how she has learned to cope with the emotional effects of never having met her birth parents.
Coping with the death of a parent. Losing a mother or a father may leave emotional scars that are difficult to heal. The Bible can help. Its Author, Jehovah, is “the God of all comfort.”—2 Corinthians 1:3.
On page 17, Angela, a young woman in Australia, explains how her relationship with God is helping her to cope with a painful loss.
All families have some challenges to deal with. As the stories on the following pages will illustrate, those who apply Bible principles have found a vital secret that helps them to cope successfully with the challenges they face.
[Box/Pictures on page 15]
Caring for a Disabled Child
As told by Victor Maynes, South Africa
“Ever since his birth, Andrew has relied on us to dress him, bathe him, and at times even help him to eat. He is now 44 years old.”
WE SUSPECTED something was wrong when Andrew was not walking after his first year. Then, about that time, he had a seizure. We rushed Andrew to the hospital, where we learned that he had epilepsy. But that wasn’t all. Further tests confirmed that Andrew was brain damaged.
After much trial and error, we were able to bring Andrew’s seizures under control. For a while, he had to take four different medications three times a day. Of course, his mental disability cannot be improved with medicine. Even now, at age 44, Andrew has the mental capacity of a five- or six-year-old child.
Doctors advised us to put Andrew in a special facility, but we decided not to do that. We were in a position to meet Andrew’s needs, so we decided that we would care for him at home, despite the inevitable challenges.
Thus, we have made caretaking a family affair. Our other children—we had two girls and a boy living at home—were a great support, and I am thankful to them! Also, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have had wonderful support from members of our congregation. At times, they have provided meals for us or have even looked after Andrew as we engaged in the ministry or took care of other matters.
We have always kept close to our hearts the words of Isaiah 33:24, which contain God’s promise that one day “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” We fully believe that God will carry out his purpose to bring about a new world and to wipe out all sickness. (2 Peter 3:13) So we look forward to the day when Andrew will be well. In the meantime, we have faith in Jesus’ words that if we put the interests of God’s Kingdom first in our lives, the things we need will be provided. (Matthew 6:33) We have always found that to be the case. We have never lacked anything.
Granted, not all are able to care for an ailing family member at home. To those who are doing so, I would first recommend intense and regular prayer. (1 Peter 5:6, 7) Second, give plenty of tender loving care to your child, and never underestimate his or her capacity to learn to love Jehovah God. (Ephesians 6:4) Third, involve your whole family, and allow them to help. Fourth, remember that your home is where your child will receive the most love. Of course, circumstances vary. For our part, we have never regretted caring for Andrew at home. To me, he is the most lovable child—the most lovable man—I know.
[Box/Pictures on page 16]
Growing Up Adopted
As told by Kenyatta Young, United States
“If you’re a stepchild, there’s a biological connection. But having been adopted, I don’t have that. I don’t even know who I look like.”
I HAVE no idea who my father is, and I’ve never met my birth mother. She abused alcohol and drugs when she was pregnant with me. I was put into foster care at birth and was in several foster homes before being adopted at just under two years of age.
My adoptive dad says that when the case worker showed him my picture, he just had to adopt me. I immediately clicked with my new mom. I told her that she was my mom and that I wanted to go home with her.
I remember as a child, though, having the fear that I would do something wrong and would be sent back to foster care. I felt that I couldn’t be moody or even get sick the way other kids did. I even tried to avoid catching a cold! My parents kept reassuring me that they loved me and that they weren’t going to abandon me.
Even as an adult, I sometimes wrestle with the feeling that I’m not as valued as those who were raised by their biological parents. Just when I come to terms with it all, someone will say to me, “You should be so thankful that you have wonderful parents who found it in their hearts to adopt you!” I am grateful, but such comments make me feel that there’s something wrong with me and that it somehow took extraordinary effort for someone to love me.
It’s hard for me to deal with the fact that I’ll probably never know who my biological father is. Sometimes I’m hurt that my birth mother did not get her life together so that she could keep me, as if I weren’t worth the energy. Other times I feel sorry for her. I often think that if I ever met her, I would want to let her know that I succeeded in life and that she should not feel bad about giving me up.
My adoptive parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and one of the best gifts I have received from them is a knowledge of the Bible. I always find the words of Psalm 27:10 comforting: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” That is certainly true in my case. And there are some positive results of being adopted. For example, I’m fascinated by people—their backgrounds and their lives—probably because I don’t know my own, biologically. I love people, and that’s really important in the Christian ministry. Being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and talking about the Bible gives me dignity and purpose. When I’m depressed, I get out there and help others. By teaching people about the Bible, I find that I can really connect with them. Everybody has a story.
[Box/Pictures on page 17]
Coping With the Death of a Parent
As told by Angela Rutgers, Australia
“When my dad died, I felt as if someone had cut a giant hole in my safety net. The one person who knew everything and who could fix anything in my life was no longer there.”
MY FATHER passed away ten years ago when I was a teenager. Six months earlier, he had surgery, and while he was still in the recovery room, the doctor told us that nothing more could be done. My mom desperately needed more information, my brother fainted, and I felt trapped in a whirlwind of emotions that I couldn’t escape. Six months later, my dad died.
I went through a period of conflicting emotions. I wanted my friends to understand what I was going through, but I didn’t want to be treated as a victim. So I made an effort not to show them what I was feeling. On the other hand, I felt that to allow myself to enjoy their company would have been to imply that my life had a degree of normalcy, which it did not. I wonder now just what I must have put my friends through!
Do I suffer from feelings of guilt about Dad’s death? Yes, I do! I wish I had told him “I love you!” more often. I wish I had hugged him more or spent more time with him. No matter how much I tell myself, ‘He wouldn’t want you to think that,’ it still gets to me.
As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I find great comfort in the Bible-based resurrection hope. (John 5:28, 29) I try to imagine that my dad has just gone overseas on a trip and that one day he will come home, the exact date being unknown. Oddly, when people said to me, “Your dad will come back in the resurrection,” that didn’t encourage me at first. I felt, ‘I want my dad back right now!’ But the illustration of the overseas trip helped. It alluded to the resurrection, while enabling me to cope with the immediate loss.
Fellow Christians have been a tremendous support. I remember one in particular who told me that he was very uncomfortable talking about my dad’s death, but he said that he was thinking of me and my family all the time. I hung on to that comment. It helped me through the days when no one said anything, because it made me realize that even if they didn’t speak up, they were thinking of me and my family. That meant so much to me!
Four months after Dad’s death, Mom got more involved in the ministry, and I could see that her greatest joy came from that. So I joined her. It’s amazing how helping others helps you to cope. It has strengthened my faith in Jehovah’s Word and his promises, and it helps me even now to focus on the big picture.