Reflecting upon 2017
A new year is bestowed upon us once again. Once again I find myself reflecting on the previous year. Likewise, I am praising God for triumphs and trusting Him with ongoing struggles as our family prepares for 2018.
Thankfully, last year brought healing for myself and my family. This was more of a spiritual, soul healing. The year started off with leftover pain from the latter part 2016. Once spring rolled around, I was ready to let go and give my hurts to God. Once I was able to lay it down and walk away, God smiled as He tenderly comforted me. His forgiveness allowed me to forgive.
Around the same time I was finally able to move forward from the pain I had held onto for so long, my husband lost his job. Now, surprisingly this wasn’t much of a storm for us. God had strengthened us from a previous job loss that lasted a year. At this point, we had learned to do a nice little jig in the rain. It’s a great testament to God’s handiwork through previous trials when you can fully trust him in the valley.
The job loss lasted a few months and our family was met with an open door from a company that would give us hope for the future. This new job opportunity required my husband to work out of state for two weeks at a time. He would then be home one week and return for another go around. The job was physically demanding for my husband. Not only that but working in full gear, combating RA symptoms, in the summer heat did a number on him.
After one of his shifts, he called me as he did every other night. He was very discouraged and I could tell his voice was weak. He was telling me that he just couldn’t do the job. I knew in my heart he had the most determination I had ever seen in a person. I never imagined that he would really have to quit.
But he did. I was devastated.
After I had some time to process the situation, I was able to determine what caused all of my angst. I had built my hope so high on this job and the promise of a better future. When this came crashing down I unravelled. I don’t think I have ever been so caught off guard with something that I felt I had some kind of control over. In reality, I had zero control. However, I had already planned on these future dreams for our family and I assumed that it was written in stone. When the tablets were scattered in pieces below my feet, I just couldn’t handle it. It took a few days, but I eventually got over it. My husband and I also had a nice laugh about how crazy I had acted! Not only that, but I realized that sometimes God will allow you to unravel to preserve you with His truths.
“Sometimes God will allow you to unravel to preserve you with His truths.”
God is sovereign
Regardless of how I thought things should turn out, God ended up having a job waiting on my husband when he got home. I knew this was some of that amazing mercy being poured out from our loving Heavenly Father.
The rest of the year was mostly uneventful and it was a welcome change.
Fast forward to the day after Christmas. At 7:30 that night, my husband and I found ourselves in the ER with our four-year-old son. He had a broken elbow. Did I mention he is autistic and mostly nonverbal? Yea. Good times.
Even though I was dreading the visit, I knew I had to be strong. I had envisioned the worst possible scenario in my mind and I was expecting it to go down for everyone to see. This is what I like to call autism awareness; real-life meltdowns in public places that include shrieks, hitting, and tears. Sometimes I try to explain and sometimes I just let the actions of my child do it for me.
We got back to the room and waited for the doctor. After several pain-filled X-rays came the diagnosis and a temporary splint.
We returned home and my husband was shaken to the core. It was definitely an unwanted visit, but it had gone better than for what I had prepared. God had so strengthened my weary heart over the past year that, I felt as if he was giving me a new perception of our special needs world.
My son sat there on the ER bed, screaming. No words to express the pain and anxiety. Only high-pitched dissatisfaction to portray how he felt in that moment. Right before they came to splint his arm, he had let out the loudest, highest-pitched yell that I had ever heard. While he was belting it out, his eyes were locked steadily on mine. Halfway through the noise, I could clearly hear what my son was saying. “I’m scared, mommy.”
I had held it together up to that point. But, even as the tears rolled uncontrollably down my cheeks, for the first time, my heart had a clear purpose. I understood why God had chosen us for this special needs journey.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how many special needs children and adults have been left out in the cold by families who would rather not.
These families decided they would rather not have autism in their lives. They would rather not have to deal with the stress that comes along with raising a child with special needs. They would rather not, but rather let someone else handle it. More than likely an institution or the state government.
I have read about the institutions that housed special needs children and adults in the 1940’s. My stomach turned and my heart broke reading about the living conditions. Not to mention the abuse. The parents of those precious souls decided they would rather not. By the sounds of it, the people that were to be caring for those that couldn’t care for themselves had made the same decision. There is nary a word in the Oxford dictionary that can give justice to what those children went through.
All of these thoughts had pierced my heart the instant I heard my son scream his lungs out- his only way of communication.
Yes, he was helpless. Yes, my heart broke for him.
What hurts the most was knowing that there are still families that decide that they would rather not. Instead of institutions, they choose cages or closets in their own home. They would rather not, so they literally put their autistic child out of sight AND out of mind.
So, when my husband talked about how hard that trip was, I was secretly rejoicing.
We are so very privileged to be able to provide the care our son needs. We are blessed that our family was chosen to freely extend the love of Jesus to a child that has needs outside of society’s norm.
Which brings me to the sum of the autism equation.
Because modern medicine has made leaps and bounds since the days of special needs institutions, autism families are more empowered. Families are given sooner diagnoses and quicker treatment plans. Often times, these plans include a team of people that come alongside the family for care and support. It’s a far cry from cold sterile rooms and days without normal human interaction.
As these families gain support through therapies and treatments, their load is greatly lifted. They are more likely to venture out in public and risk a meltdown. Instead of feeling abandoned and alone within the walls of their homes, they feel like society is warming up to the idea of autism and the uncanny nature that comes with it.
And therein lies the solution.
Love. Understanding. Acceptance.