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When My Mom Asks ‘Why, God?’ About My Child With Special Needs


The other day my mom told me about an interaction she’d had the night before with a friend at church. This friend, who knows about my daughter, Julia, was telling my mom about another woman she knew who had a son with special needs and about how difficult life had been for this woman because she never was able to accept her son’s challenges. She seemed sad and in a state of regret throughout her son’s life, continuously asking the question “Why, God? Why? What did I do to deserve this?”

I asked my mom how she responded to this story, which sounded very sad. Her answer surprised me. “Well,” she said, “I told her, ‘I understand, we ask the very same question: Why, God? Why?’”

This threw me off for a second because this didn’t sound like my mom or the way my mom usually talks about Julia. But she went on.

“But I told her we ask why for a different reason. We ask, ‘Why, God, did you pick our family to receive such a blessing? Why, God, did you see us as worthy of your beautiful gift? Why, God, did you choose to change our lives in such a magnificent way through Julia? Why, God? Why? What did we ever do to deserve her?’”

My heart nearly stopped beating.

Here was my precious mom, the woman who raised me and prepared me for this role, standing in her kitchen in front of me, speaking what I believe to be the most beautiful and important truths into me about who God is and how He cares for us. And reminding me, once again, that I believe God is so good at loving us in far better ways than we could ever imagine, but we have to be willing to adjust our eyes to see it.

And I can imagine as I write this, how to some stranger’s ears my sweet mom’s words could sound like super religious, churchy jargon. Or perhaps they could sound arrogant, like “Look at how good we’re doing with this whole thing. Do it like us.” But I promise that’s not the case. Her words were genuine. Honest words from a humble and wise woman who feels blessed beyond her wildest imagination through the life of her little granddaughter. And she is grateful. Nothing more. Simply grateful.

Her honesty and gratitude are the result of realizing that being needed is not the burden our culture makes it out to be. And that dependency is not a curse. To be needed gives us purpose. Caring for another is when we are most alive. We believe God gave us Julia and in doing so made all of us more fully alive.

How can that be anything but a blessing?

Why, God? Why? What did we ever do to deserve her?

Laurie Arnold the mighty
Photo by Steve Stanton

A version of this post originally appeared on I’m Julia’s Mom.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.