After decades faithfully raising two children, Cynthia shared highlights of her story—and wisdom she has gained through her journey.
Disability became a fixture in Cynthia’s life when Sizwe got diagnosed with pervasive development disorder at age 3. Struggling with the reality of Sizwe’s condition, Cynthia’s husband at the time decided to end their marriage, leaving her to parent Sizwe and his older sister, Brooke, on her own.
Cynthia found herself in a difficult season, overwhelmed, isolated, and discouraged.
Between Sizwe’s meltdowns, seizures and erratic behavior, and her daughter’s needs, Cynthia reached wits’ end:
One evening, as Sizwe had a meltdown, Cynthia stood in her living room. Sizwe pulled and jerked at one of her hands as she lifted the other hand up toward the sky. Sobbing silently Cynthia felt herself go limp. She knew her life had spiraled out of her control.
Suddenly the room went silent. Sizwe stopped yelling and tugging. Cynthia felt the Holy Spirit send a wave of peace over her home. She knew she needed to rely on God to survive as a single special needs mom.
Relying on Christ, Cynthia has found strength, wisdom, and peace in her parenting.
She has watched the Lord meet her needs and the needs of her children. Cynthia has seen “the supernatural collide with the practical.” From financial help to top-tier medical care, God has seen Cynthia and her family through many valleys. In the process her faith deepened.
With God’s help and the support of the church, Cynthia learned to parent her children with faith instead of fear. Instead of “parenting the disability” with Sizwe, she sees her son as God sees him—as a person with a purpose, full of dignity and worth. Trusting God’s plan for her children, Cynthia has witnessed miraculous growth and thriving.
At 7 years old, Sizwe spoke his first words: “Mommy, what’s that?” Cynthia burst into tears. His ability to speak felt like a miracle. Cynthia saw for the first time that her son knew her—and knew she was his mom.
Since Sizwe’s verbal breakthrough, he has developed dramatically in many areas of life. Now an adult, Sizwe has his own car, sings on the praise team at church, is completing his certification in technical theater, and has established pathways toward his career. Cynthia looks up to her son in many ways—not only because at 6”4’, Sizwe towers over her.
Words of Wisdom from Cynthia:
“Disability is messy, and you can’t skip it. You have to find a way to walk through the valleys, and God refines you as you rely on him and keep walking.”
“Nobody is looking for suffering, but it does have its purpose. You come out refined when you go through the process of walking with God through the valleys of your life.”
“It’s okay to completely acknowledge the dark place in your life. It has to be felt, understood, and resolved. The resolve doesn’t mean that the dark thing goes away, but there is a heart resolve.”
“Hinge everything you have on God’s power to take you through any and everything you face in your life.”
On today’s Mother’s Day episode of the Joni and Friends Ministry Podcast, Crystal talks with Cynthia Berry, a woman who has faced a series of challenges: she’s a single mom, an African American woman, and mother to a child with special needs.
Listen as she shares what her community taught her about her son, and how each new challenge has deepened her faith in Jesus.