Ethical dilemmas. What quandaries have I faced in my writing and my life that I needed to deal with, to listen to God’s leading in dealing with them, and in being a faithful steward to what God was calling me to do and write? I pondered this question and struggled to discern the direction this post needed to take. After all, I reasoned, I don’t write about ethical dilemmas and haven’t been asked to tackle them, or have I?
I thought back a few decades to a time I hadn’t begun writing. I served on the admissions and review board with an organization not many people knew about yet. The Early Childhood Intervention Program in Saskatchewan hadn’t been in existence very long. It had begun to assist parents and caregivers by providing learning through play and information about available services for their children, up to six-years-old, who had special needs.
I had heard about ECIP through a friend who fostered a child in need of these services. But I never equated it with being available for us with our almost three-year-old daughter, Amee because we weren’t fostering or involved with Social Services. It took her a few months to convince me to apply for the help. Others struggled on their own, trying to find help, and never knew about this program. Even doctors and nurses didn’t understand what the program was all about, how it could be accessed, and why the help and encouragement was desperately needed.
Now as a parent in the program, I had the opportunity to share with others. Yet we faced a dilemma of helping people understand but not being able to share personal stories about clients. A reporter from our local newspaper offered to do a series of columns detailing ECIP. She wrote informative pieces about the beginning of the program, who it was designed to help, what types of things were available through the program, and how to access the services. She had the facts correct, presented them in a very easy to understand manner, and became an ardent supporter for ECIP’s ability to help families and their child with special needs.
But people, including medical professionals, didn’t seem to get it. Misconceptions abounded. She needed a personal story to go with the facts. But confidentiality stood like a wall, blocking that possibility. Or did it?
Confidentially should not be broken but I felt God’s peace. We, as a family, needed to be willing to be the solution so we waived our own confidentiality and shared our experience in the program. The reporter visited our home, met Amee, and listened to us tell her story. We shared how we heard about the program, the help and encouragement we had already received, and plans for further assistance and access to more help. We even invited her to take a photo of Amee, her dad, and myself. It appeared in the newspaper along with the article.
The personal story offered a face to a theoretical description of a new organization and what they did. Years later I began to write Amee’s Story after saying no for years. I had great excuses that sounded like reasons to me. I didn’t have the ability needed to tell the story. It was an ongoing story. But bit by bit, God worked on me using family and friends to get me to realize I needed to obey. The reasons to share her story still existed just like they had years before. Amee wanted it written to help people understand more about a person with special needs, especially one who had relatively invisible disabilities. To do that I face the ethical dilemma of how much of the story to tell. Should I give the bare necessity of facts or delve deeper? God directions came through Amee. She was willing for me to share the good, the bad, and the extremely difficult portions of her life.
Personal experience and story sheds more light and gives valuable perspective, but also sticks with people long after a litany of facts. The result of my obedience to God’s nudge to write the story and share it in a variety of ways has given me peace. But it has also encouraged others and Brian and I have been able to share the book with those God leads us to do so, even when we aren’t sure why. The book tells more of the story than we have time to share in a few minutes.
Only we could choose to listen to God’s leading and break our own confidentiality. Obedience meant being vulnerable but trusting God to use it however He saw fit. Sharing the story in the newspaper decades ago to writing the book has allowed me to tell others that the God of the Bible is still God toady. He answers prayer but the answers might not look like what we expect and He has received the glory.
The pruning leaves behind a knot yet new life grows and the tree flourishes. So our obedience pruned away fear. God has used the process and the story to help me grow and also encourage others.
Carol Harrison is passionate about mentoring others to help them find their voice and reach their fullest potential as she shares God's amazing love with them from her home in Saskatoon. Sometimes it means being vulnerable and allowing God to work through the dilemmas.