I’ll never forgot the anger I felt when my seventh grade teacher humiliated my little brother when he reached her class. After teaching me, she was sure he was just lazy and shiftless and determined to force him to read and spell well through embarassment. You can’t cure dyslexia by wanting to, though, and I would have done anything to spare him that.
Twenty-five years later, I was the teacher and the dyslexic was our fourth son. At first I thought he was lazy or goofing off or old soldiering, but after awhile, we realized that this incredibly bright son of ours had a learning disability. Thankfully, we homeschooled him and were able to spare him much of the isolation and humiliation my brother felt, but he and I both cried buckets in the years it took to teach him to read. It was an incredibly difficult time as we both wondered if it would ever happen. That’s the ashes part.
Now for the beauty. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with that same son as he made parents worried to death over their children’s reading laugh and cry and gain hope. His pain had been redeemed by God and turned to beauty and blessing and ministry.
I had a glimpse last year, when Samuel approached me and said he’d really like to write a magazine article with me sharing our story about overcoming dyslexia. I suggested it to Gena Saurez of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and she jumped right on it. Our article was published in October. I would have never believed it five years before.
Over the last year, we’ve been noticing that Samuel has a real gift for communication – he’s naturally funny and has a winsome way of expressing himself. I asked him if he might be interested in speaking with me on the same topic and he cautiously agreed. He needn’t have been cautious. He was great. And God was great.
So often, we want to spare our children struggle and pain, but those very struggles and pains may be an essential part of their story and purpose. After all, it was through the pain of God’s own Son that our sins are forgiven. God’s like that.
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3
Encourage your children that God has purpose in their lives, that He restores the years the locust have eaten, and that He loves them more than they can imagine. Their biggest weakness may be used to build their biggest strength. We can trust the Lord.
If you’d like to hear our session on Surviving Struggling To Read, head over to Raising Real Men to order it!