Exclusive: Award-Winning Author Chad Judice on His New Book, Living With a Child With a Disability, and Spiritual Growth Through Trials

By Nancy Flory Published on June 12, 2018

Recently, The Stream’s Nancy Flory interviewed award-winning author Chad Judice about his third book in a trilogy about his son Eli, who was born with Spina Bifida. Judice’s latest book, Growing With Eli: Our Journey into Life and Light, details not only Eli’s daily challenges and victories, but Judice’s own spiritual journey as a father of a son with a disability. Judice’s first two books are Waiting for Eli: A Father’s Journey from Fear to Faith and Eli’s Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer. They may be purchased at Amazon.com or www.chadjudice.com

Flory: Why write a third book now?

Judice: After speaking around the country for close to 10 years I have been told by close friends and associates who have heard my testimony say, “You make something that is very difficult look very easy.” Waking up and saying “yes” to this again is a daily challenge. It is not any easier today than it was the day of [Eli’s] diagnosis. It is the hardest thing I have ever committed to doing in my life.

I was not always the man I am today, and part of the story had not been told. The one about a man who had been completely transformed, from the inside out. (2 Corinthians 5: 16-17) I believe men and woman entering adulthood and or steeped in married life could benefit tremendously from what I shared as a husband, father, teacher, and man in this book. It is rare a man shares publicly his brokenness and vulnerability. But the men in history who have done that have allowed Christ to use them as instruments to leave an indelible mark on the world. (2 Corinthians 12: 6-13) My prayer is that He use this “message” to do the same. 

Flory: If you had to describe this book in one sentence, what would that be? What is the main message of this book?

Judice: Initially I believed my personal experience while waiting for Eli to be born had validated my Catholicism, but in reality, the objective truth of the Catholic faith actually validated my personal experience. We do not change Divine Revelation (the fullness of Truth revealed to the Apostles by Jesus Christ in its fullness). It changes you.

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Flory: What do you hope readers gain from reading this book?

Judice: Every person we encounter is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Our job is to witness to Christ presence in the midst of our own battles to empower them to find Him in theirs and embrace it. Redemptive suffering leads to lasting conversions with unshakable conviction. At the climax of His life Christ’s suffering was redemptive for the world. 

Flory: What would you say to someone considering abortion of a child with a disability or defect?

Judice: I would simply plead with them to do one of two things. First, give me an hour of your time to hear my experience in the very same scenario by attending one of my speaking events. Or take the time to read this trilogy of books encompassing this journey before you make your final decision. I wish someone could have handed me an opportunity like that when my wife and I were sitting where you are right now.

Flory: How important is your Catholic faith in your story?

Judice: My Catholic faith is ground zero of my daily struggle to continually say “yes” to the life God intended for me rather than the one I desired. When a daily bout with anxiety comes I pray my rosary, when I fall short of the man I know I have been created to be I seek out Confession, when I am losing focus on my mission I attend daily Mass to recenter me on the “One” I need to sustain me in this walk. 

Flory: What can our readers do or pray for your family?

Judice: We always need prayer, but I would appreciate your readers considering the trilogy of books as a Father’s day gift and purchasing them. Either at Amazon.com or from my website www.chadjudice.com.

Flory: In a brief paragraph or few sentences, describe how you have matured or grown spiritually through the experience of having a child with Spina Bifida?

Judice: I always told my students that you could be fully independent, self-supporting financially, and even doing all the right things on the surface, but if in your words, deeds, and actions reveal the world still revolves around you, you’re still a spiritual infant. Being a spiritual adult is about knowing who you are in every situation but never making it about yourself. Looking outward always, especially when life presents temptations to do the opposite. Being Eli’s dad demands that, it is an ongoing growth into spiritual adulthood. One day at a time. Sometimes, most of the time, one second at a time.

This interview has been slightly edited for clarity and space constraints.

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