What Will My Disabled Son Be When He Grows Up?

Tonight at dinner I was asking the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. Nadia has reached the “no” stage of life, so every possible profession she was prompted with was quickly shot down. I finally asked her “Do you want to be a mommy?” to which she also said “no!” I then asked Isaiah “What do you want to be?” to which he answered “daddy.”

I sat and processed that internally for a few seconds, only to hear my wife sniffle a little. I glanced at her, and she had that don’t-lose-it look on her face. I was on the verge of having the same expression and probably would have had to excuse myself had not Nadia blurted out “I want to be a daddy too.”

I was deeply moved and humbled; he wants to be like me. I don’t know what all of that means in his mind. I’m not sure to which aspects of my life he aspires, but somewhere in there he sees that I’m a daddy, and that looks pretty fun to him.

Barring a miracle, Isaiah will never have biological children of his own. Aside from the difficulties for him of mentally being able to have a wife and family, it’s just not physically possible. As he answered my question tonight a wave of both love and sadness flooded over me in an instant. A father can receive no higher compliment from his son than to hear him say “I want to be like you when I grow up.” But I was also impacted by the sad fact that he cannot have children. In the earthly sense, he cannot be a daddy.

I wrestled with that question some tonight. What will my son be when he grows up? Most likely he’ll be living with us for the rest of our lives. Perhaps as he grows into an adult he’ll be able to become more independent in some things, but what’s in store for him? We honestly don’t see college on the horizon. I’m not trying to sound pessimistic about his abilities, but I’m just facing the fact. Isaiah will never be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, etc. Those are not his callings in life.

So what will Isaiah be when he grows up? I’ve come up with three ideas:

1. Professional Happiness Generator – Isaiah makes people smile. He makes them laugh. The boy is hilarious and he has no clue that he is. He’s just himself and with that can brighten a room. His joy is contagious and his high fives inspiring. Isaiah makes people happy.

2. A Missionary – As I wrote in a previous post, Isaiah often has his iPad with him when he’s in the hospital playing his sermons. Last week after surgery on Monday we ended up back in the hospital for two more days when his bowels slowed down and he started vomiting. He recovered just fine, but this gave us two more days share the gospel with people via Isaiah’s iPad pulpit. One doctor heard about the Trinity, a nurse heard the gospel clearly presented, and a sister in Christ was encouraged.

3. A Spiritual Daddy – I truly believe that if there are not people that have come to Christ through his life already, that there will be by the time his journey on earth is done. He may not mentor or disciple others, pastor a church or write books, but God is using him and will continue to use Isaiah for his glory and to carry out his purposes. I believe Isaiah will have “spiritual” offspring, those brought into the kingdom by God’s Holy Spirit working through our little guy. I can’t wait to find out how the Lord was using him when I get to heaven.

I actually see Isaiah working in all of these jobs right now. He doesn’t get paid. He doesn’t take a vacation. And he even works on sick days. My son’s worth and value in the sight of God does not now nor will it ever depend on him having a wife and kids, a well-paying job, a college education, etc. He was created as a person in a magnificent and wonderful way with a distinct purpose in this life – to serve the Lord.

More than anything, I want my son to grow up to be a follower of Christ, delighting in the Lord and honoring God with his whole life. I believe he has been created and called to do this, and I will do everything I can as a father to help him pursue this “career.”