Monday, April 1, 2013

Entitled to Miracles


I am entitled to miracles. ~A Course in Miracles

When my son James was growing up, he was in special education because of his autism. Every year there was a meeting to develop his IEP (Individual Education Plan). This document set out his needs and what services would be provided to meet his needs for the following year. The meeting was attended by his teachers, other service providers, a representative from the school district, and me.

I generally had a very good working relationship with everyone involved. I made sure I understood the regulations so that I could justify the services I asked for. I had a genuine and deep respect for his teachers and providers. In fact, I’m still friends with several of them. I knew that they were committed to doing their best for all the children they served. I also knew that they did not have adequate funds and resources to do all that was needed.

One year, as I was walking into the room for the IEP meeting, the speech pathologist approached me. She was frowning, and huffed at me in exasperation and with an accusatory tone, “Do you know that your son gets more services than any child in Portland Public Schools?”

I looked at her for a moment, and then replied without apology, “He doesn’t get any more than what he is entitled to by law. My job is to see that he gets no less.”

I think grace is like that. I believe that our natural state is one of joy and peace and harmony. We don’t earn it or deserve it any more than James had to earn the services he got. The law provided that he was entitled to them simply by virtue of who he was. Likewise, we are entitled, as A Course in Miracles teaches, to miracles, not because of something that singles any one of us out or makes any of us more special than others, but because we are who we are, children of the universe, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Each and every one of us, equally.

The Dalai Lama speaks of having this precious life. And we do. We are precious and beloved, without exception. Love is our birthright because it is what we are made of. We exist in eternal grace. We can deny it or block it, but we can’t change it. If anyone (including yourself) suggests that we are not worthy of this blessing, we can respond with calm assurance that we claim only what we are all entitled to, nothing less.

Man loves because he is Love. He seeks Joy, for he is Joy. He thirsts for God for he is composed of God and he cannot exist without Him. ~Sathya Sai Baba

related posts: Show Me the Miracles!; You Can Go Home Again

PS--Several readers have voiced some confusion in the comments about the connection I was making between my son's IEP situation and miracles or grace. I have added some further explanation of the connection I was trying to make in my responses below, especially the one to "Dangerous Linda." Please take a look if you are interested. Thank you .

44 comments:

  1. We are entitled to miracles and a wonderful quote - loved them both.

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  2. Interesting. What is a miracle? Life?

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    1. JJ, Miracle can mean many things. A Course in Miracles uses the term in a very specific way. Personally, though, I like to use a more encompassing concept. It is not limited to what we normally think of as miracles, supernatural type events. Einstein said it best when he said that we can see everything as miracle or nothing as a miracle. What does it mean to you?

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  3. This story hit me in my heart. I needed to hear it. Thank you for sharing this moment of grace with us.

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    1. Tina, So glad this was a timely post for you. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Your experience at your IEP meeting. left me speechless. Your story brings back lots of memories of those meeting with my son and his school. I hope you have a great week.

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    1. Bonnie, Overall, I had very positive experiences with the folks involved, and I appreciated how much they did with insufficient resources. Even the speech pathologist in the story was a dedicated person. I think I caught her on a day when she was frazzled and overwhelmed. Hope you have a great week, too.

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  5. Hi, Galen! ~

    I'm not sure I get the correlation between your story about your son and the grace we all deserve.

    The climax of the story was when the speech pathologist stated that your son "gets more services than any child in Portland Public Schools”.

    By using this comparison, are you saying that some people get much more grace than others because they need it more? I'm just confused...

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    1. Thanks, Linda, for your feedback. From your reflection, I can see that the connection I made was more experiential than intellectual, and my failure to articulate it clearly shows that.

      When I read the lesson in A Course in Miracles, I thought back to that IEP meeting. The teacher was trying to make me feel guilty for getting the services my son was legally entitled to.

      When I thought about being entitled to miracles, or grace, or anything like that, it initially seemed such a bold statement. Entitlement has so many connotations today, not all positive, so I was struck by the use of that word.

      The more I thought about it, though, the more I understood that our entitlement is simply a statement of what is ours by virtue of being who we are, just like James got services because of who he was. I didn't mean the comparison to extend to making individual evaluations based on need, as were made in special ed. Unlike that, we are all entitled equally to joy, grace, miracles, peace, all the things that make up who we are at our deepest core of being.

      Clear as mud? Ha! I hope I have helped rather than confused the point further.

      Thanks again for your valuable feedback. I appreciate it.

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  6. an interesting perspective...my sons get IEP for the gifted...we all kind of feel guilty about it too, seems a lot of people and resources could be better directed, but I do not say that b/c it sounds ungrateful...I do not think we deserve anything, even if the law says we are entitled.

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    1. Annmarie, I am very grateful for the services my son got, but I never felt guilty about it. I did feel sad that resources were so limited, not just for kids in special ed but in general ed as well. How wonderful that miracles and grace and joy and peace have no limit. We are all entitled to our full measure and it is always there for us. And I am so humbly grateful for that.

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  7. Absolutely beautiful. I totally agree. Like you say, blessings and God's grace are always with us. As we are more receptive to it, the greater we experience it.

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    1. Vrndavana, Yes, our experience of grace corresponds directly to our receptivity. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. Getting my child the services she was entitled too was a nightmare scenario - so I used each surgery experience (12) to keep her home and home school for as long as I could. Then we paid $200 an hour for a speech pathologist to teach her one on one when she was in school...as though she had a stroke. We paid an extra $500 a quarter at college to keep a mentor/tutor helping her focus and get the work done....Now she just got a promotion with her job and she is so loved and supported at her work - she is #1 in the state...and making health ins. and a wonderful salary - She knows how and learned how....but she still does not know how to deal with money...she is fairly brilliant...
    so we continue to pay down the $261K for her surgeries and we have $180k to go...we are still hoping for a miracle so that we can have retirement funds...
    I think we are at the miracle level of living daily...because when we try to push the river or MAKE it happen - well it does not work.

    We also need a miracle for the other two girls student loans and Librarian girl certainly needs a car for her work...
    I just keep saying, it is all going to work,
    and 8 more books came to my door for review today - now that is an amazing miracle! :)

    We are all advocating and it is interesting to witness the different ways those miracles play out...

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    1. Patricia, You have had to be a huge advocate for your daughter. It can be a struggle. I'm so glad to hear that she is doing so well now. Thank you for sharing your story here.

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  9. This is all so very interesting, and I also am fond of Einstein's quote, but I'm still drawn to that teacher and why she even made that comment? I'm thinking instead of mentioning anything to you, she may have thought of giving helpful suggestions to the other student's parents who may not had any idea how to go about helping their child.

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    1. Karen, My take on it at the time was that she made the comment because she was feeling stretched too thin and overwhelmed at the moment. I didn't blame her. It was a tough job. I let her know that I sympathized with her situation. Thanks for commenting.

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  10. Beautiful! I remember those IEP's when I was teaching. Parents do need to stand up for their children. The teachers do, for the most part, want the best for the children, but the lack of funding and bureaucracy can get in the way of the education of your child. Children deserve all the parent support they can get, so good for you! I think the miracle for your child was having you for a mom. :)

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    1. Cathy, As I said, I had nothing but the highest respect and appreciation for everyone involved in my son's education. I understood the constraints of funding and bureaucracy, and I learned to work within them to advocate for James. Thanks for your kind words.

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  11. I love your point, Galen. To realize we are worthy is a miracle in and of itself that transforms our world. I'm also amazed by your tremendous confidence responding to the exasperated teacher. Good work on behalf of your son!

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    1. Sandra, I felt much sympathy for this teacher because I knew she was speaking out of frustration at not being able to do all she wanted for all the kids she served. I was grateful to her and to others, and at the same time, I tried to be a strong advocate for my son. Thanks for your kind words.

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  12. Much of our grace comes from how we embrace it in the form in which its given. My son was (thankfully!) diagnosed with ADHD with Depression at age 8. Luckily, after going through puberty, the metabolic chemicals changed within his body, rearranging somehow to bring the son I knew was inside back to me. That was the miracle I asked God for. If it weren't for his teachers and doctors, I don't know how we would have made it through that time. Today he is a healthy and accomplished 30-year old. Entitlement has gotten to be a dirty word, made so in my opinion by the politicians. We are put on this earth to be of service to others; those who deserve all the riches life offers, yet, cannot quite manifest them. It is through Grace that we assist them with the means presented to us. Perhaps the teacher's remark was simply to remind you of all the miracles in your life, and to share your awareness with us. Yes, it can be that simple. May blessings continue for you and your family.

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    1. Peggy Lee, Thanks so much for sharing your story and how wonderful that your son has achieved such success. Like you, I am so grateful to all my son's teachers, doctors, and service providers. They were miracles workers themselves!

      And thanks for your further thoughts on the concept of entitlement. It is a tricky word, which is why it jumped out at me when I read it in A Course in Miracles.

      As for the teacher's comment, I think she spoke when she was feeling overwhelmed. But indeed, remember it now, it does remind me of all the miracles in my life! Thanks for your comment.

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  13. Wonderful Galen!
    Thanks for sharing a concrete story that helps explain something a little harder to understand. We all deserve nothing less than the best... what we're entitled, too.
    Love the quote, too!!
    xoxo
    Betsy

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    1. Betsy, Thanks for your kind words. Loved your recent post about parenting, too.

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  14. Galen,
    I too had some felt a bit confused over being "entitled." I think the conflict was due to my confusing "entitlement" and "deserving." I think your explanation to Linda has helped me too!
    Thank you,
    Angela

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    1. Angela, Thanks for persevering. This has been a great and humbling lesson to me about explaining my point better. Thanks for your comment.

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  15. I resonate with that Einstein quote too...

    The challenge is that our ideas of what is fair or not, what is right or not, what should be or not, what we think we can cope with or not, prevent us from seeing everything as a miracle, at least while we're in the midst of it.

    For example - and this will sound very challenging to most - who would say that losing your loved one is a miracle?

    It may take a very long time to see it this way, and a long time to even be willing to see it this way. It takes a lot of inner work.

    But then... Imagine experiencing everything as a miracle... imagine the joy and the freedom in having that perspective with you...

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    1. Halina, You raise a good point about how we react to and evaluate certain events. It also highlights the importance of honoring our feelings about certain events. One thing I've learned is that time often gives me a different perspective on events. For example, when my young daughter announced a surprise pregnancy, I initially saw this as a tragedy. However, two years later, I see this same event as one of the greatest blessings in her life and mine, too. I've learned that I have a great deal of choice over how I see things and that seeing things as a miracle involves a lot of trust in the basic goodness of the universe even when I might not initially be able to understand it. Thanks for commenting and for raising an important point.

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  16. Thank you for sharing this post, Galen. We are all to be treated equal. HWhat this means is that if one person needs a little more help, they are entitled to it.

    I have to take my hat off to you brave and loving parents. I was blessed with healthy children (other than one had a severe milk alergy)

    Every child deserves the best life can offer and know one should be left behind. Sometimes I read these blogs and mothers complaining about how hard things are on a day to day basics and I have trouble with this. They are blessed because there children have no fisical or mental problems.
    We should always be there for others and be grateful for the day.
    Thanks again for sharing.
    Debbie

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    1. Debbie, Your comment reminds me of Marlo Thomas's ad for St. Jude Children's Hospital. At the end she says, Give thanks for the healthy children in your life and give generously to those who are not. Or something along those lines. Many people would be grateful to have the circumstances that others complain about! Thanks for your comment.

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  17. I must say that I enjoyed your post today and understand fully what you mean. I read through some of the comments and I think you had a great correlation.
    I believe in my faith that God loves all of his children and we do receive daily tender mercies from Him to assist us through our life. Because we are his child; he helps us grow in many ways through our trials and our joys of life. His purpose is to bring us back to him. We are entitled to blessings of Grace through our Savior after all that we can do.
    I do believe in Miracles and have had many of them through my life.
    Blessings!

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    1. LeAnn, I love that phrase "tender mercies." I love your view of faith, and I know you have had many miracles in your life--I've seen your family photos full of miracles!! Thanks for your comment.

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  18. Galen - You are one wise woman. Your words ring so true - Miracle are not the domain of those 'who walk on water' but are everyone's birthright. If more people opened themselves up to them, how different their lives would be.

    Thank goodness you were an advocate for your son. Any parent with a special needs child knows how critical it is.

    As always, your thoughts touch me. With gratitude, Fran

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    1. Fran, Thank you for your lovely, kind words. We all have such different associations with the word "miracle." When we adopt Einstein's idea that we can choose to see everything as a miracle, our eyes are opened to the miracles that are present all around us every day. Thanks for your comment.

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  19. Hi Galen,

    The response you gave to the speech and language pathologist about James was amazing and very powerful.

    Your post got me thinking of how life used to be when I was much younger. I was always looking for external validation and external acceptance. Of course, I never got it and I didn't understand why. I continued to suffer a lot. It was only when I began to read self-help and spiritual texts and learnt about self-love and the unconditional love given to us by God, and really began to internalise and experience such concepts, did life begin to improve.

    Thank you.

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    1. Hiten, Like you, I spent much of my life seeking to belong, wanting the approval and validation of others. Also like you, my life was transformed and I began to take my rightful place. Being the mother of a child with special needs helped me along this path because I would speak up for my child even when I wouldn't for myself. Thanks for commenting.

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  20. Galen, b4 I read through the comments, I just want to say that you touched me. And thank you, because it couldn't have happened without you talking about your son. I know you understand something that is important to me, and I haven't found company for, much.

    It helps me trust what you're saying so much more than I could have otherwise.

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    1. Hello, and thank you for your lovely comment. I'm so glad that this post touched you and was meaningful to you. All the best, Galen

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