When you have a child with autism you experience so many different emotions. Grief is a huge one. I think largely because it doesn't come all at once. There are different times. The first time you realize you can't connect with your child, that no matter how much you talk, hug, kiss, try to make eye contact, there's a barrier that blocks you from him. Then he's evaluated somewhere and comes out even worse off than you expected. Then comes the diagnosis. You knew he had it, but the official nature of it seems so... final. Maybe you have a stretch of 2-3 weeks where every day is even MORE of a struggle than usual, which is indescribably exhausting since every day NORMAL means 1 on 1 attention for him. Then maybe he takes up biting, or spitting or hitting or pinching, or all of the above, and you know that that means that your sphere of movement is restricted even further. People stare, glare, talk, disapprove. Sometimes its easier just to stay home. Of course with daily therapy you're out frequently anyway, so the cabin fever isn't that bad. Life is a constant struggle to just get by- finances are in the pits. You have to make impossible choices- make food from scratch with time you don't have, or buy the cheapest convenience food you can, and hope everyone's health is ok. Take time for yourself to decompress? Ok, but do it knowing you are foisting the more needy child on the also exhausted other children. Do you have another young child? That child is likely acting out and behaving much like the other when he realizes he doesn't get the same amount of attention as his brother. Then you get the evaluation from the public school, which lists his cognitive ability in the 2nd percentile or less, his congnitive/verbal ability in the .1% Yes, that was POINT one percent. The grief is back. Its back with a vengeance.
So when you live like this for a year or more, with no end in sight, and public school of all things is your refuge and you actually look FORWARD to it, The world is upside down, cats and dogs might as well be best friends, nothing would surprise you at this point. You're so worn down and exhausted all the time, you are overcome with guilt and sadness and the numbness of steeling yourself to face another day and get it all done. You still have to deal with other crap. The disconnect notices are coming. You want your husband to stay home more, but man, the disconnect notices! Another night of takeout, you're wiped and the peeps need to eat! life changes happen leaving you even more alienated and alone. You can barely pray anymore, you know you should be praying more, you feel guilty. You go to bed, you get up, another day. you do it all again, you get more bills, they didn't process something right, now you have to call the insurance or add another bill to the pile. You haven't called either of your grandmothers in MONTHS, He breaks a window, the other toddler tries to break a window, you need to find a new church, you do, but don't even almost fit in. you try to find another church- there's no nursery, Its raining, he gets all out of whack from lack of outside time, fall is coming and the college kid will need books, guess you are calling your dad again to ask him to cover it... your landlord comes to pick up rent, the house is a mess, you feel bad, hope he doesn't evict you, you go to bed, zone out the next few days, go to bed, get up, nothing changes, Then one day he is doing GREAT acting almost normal. the next day he's back to the same... you go on and you go on, and you go on, and you go on. And you hope that someday things will be better. But hope is a rare commodity these days.
So you just keep going.
Monday, June 4, 2012
My mentor, Stacy, said something to the effect of that. I'm not sure if it was exactly what she said because I was too busy balking. I mean, REALLY, I'd been through hell, I was still feeling the burn. All that had happened, and i, being horribly sick with my twin pregnancy, having financial pressures that were getting worse by the day and still needing to manage to nurture and care for my 5 other children; I was wrecked!
There is NO way God can ever use this for anything but the rubbish it is. I was certain of that.
Fast forward a few years later. Life is still crazy. One of my twin boys has been diagnosed with autism, and its pretty severe. One of my daughters has also been diagnosed with aspergers, which, while not anywhere near as severe as the twin, still carries with it some serious demands. My oldest who also has aspergers is in college and the fit is starting to hit the shan, figuratively speaking, about his undealt with issues. Meanwhile my most likely dyslexic 13yo is making much progress but struggling in math, and my younger daughter battles undiagnosed neurological issues that make it hard for her to hear and process things, and impede her ability to learn in a variety of ways. My perfectly neurotypical twin son struggles to get the attention his twin gets. Surely he's paid a price as well for this fallen world and the resultant sin and disease and death.
The cataclysmic event that devastated me is behind me. I don't even count the years anymore, I think its been about 4. I think about it less and less, but as I am waiting for Ash's therapy to finish, i'm sitting in my suburban and it its me. I'm overwhelmed with joy and so excited about this event that nearly destroyed my marriage, my family and even my whole being. How can that be? Keep reading :)
A bunch of years ago, our family was participating in a church small group. We became close friends with another family who also had several small children. It was great. We had a lot in common, particularly the dad and I, as we were both gregarious types that like to talk and be social. His wife was more introverted, and my husband was just plain ANGRY. I didn't understand WHY my husband was angry and I horribly failed to serve him as I should have as a wife. I could have taken him in my arms and repeatedly let him know that I was his partner, his covenant bride and i would always be here for him. I could have simply asked what was wrong, and listened without taking everything personally. Instead, i took every glare, every outburst, every nasty word personally. Each was like a missle into my already broken heart, His anger, to me, represented just one more way that "I" was just not good enough. Lord knows I was trying! Its not like i'd been given a great lot in life. I had to work my butt off every second, and I could tell it was NOT getting any easier. So he drew inward and I became more and more defiant and alienated.
Meanwhile as my husband drew away, i started to notice the other man in the couple with whom we were friends, starting to draw closer. He called me, sometimes daily, to talk or to see if the kids and I wanted to get together to go to the park or something. He was kind and gentle and his soft words soothed the scars that had built up in my heart from the man I felt had abandoned me emotionally. To make a long story short, I was starting to have very inappropriate feelings for this man who I'd never had physical contact with, in any way, and yet was starting to fill the marital void that had been there for so long. I started to anticipate his phone calls like a school girl waiting for her boyfriend to call. It was at this point that i realized what was going on. Sadly, at this point, I wasn't the least bit interested in making it stop. I grapped with that, and prayed about it, and kept getting the uneasy feeling that what I was doing, my role in the situation, was NOT right. I fought it. I still loved my husband and didn't know how to reconcile that. Eventually the uneasy feeling, and some very wise counsel by my friend Teresa, helped me to gain some clarity, realize that my fantasies were not true, not possible and NOT in line with God's clear will for my life. I came to realize that my whole family hinged on the choices i'd make. Eventually I came clean to my husband and while i was not very gracious in response to his well deserved anger, eventually, i knew I had to take a permanent step, I was still too ambiguous emotionally, but i knew what was right, i had to make sure it was OVER and i had to get this man completely out of my life, for good. I decided to put myself out there and tell him of my feelings and tell him that I needed distance and to not be in any kind of communication with him anymore, period.
I won't go into specifics, to protect the innocent and not overly condemn the guilty, but i will say that I later discovered that the whole relationship situation, it was not an accident. It was a direct manipulation of me. I don't know why he would do that. I don't know why he would lie to others. I don't know why he would take a fragile person and stomp on her and try to destroy her. Maybe in actuality that wasn't the case. Maybe he wasn't bent on my destruction but was merely battling his own demons.
Who knows. Regardless, i'd have hardly considered any of what happened to be a blessing- Until today.
Today as I was sitting in my suburban, waiting for Ash's therapy to end, I was reading an ebook, called "Give them grace" I highly recommend you buy it and read it- its truly a life changer. As I read, another piece of the God puzzle came into place for me. I started to understand grace, and its amazing depth, a little bit more.
I was given a picture, as I drove home, of the amazing picture of His grace, that this experience in my life had been. I didn't want to do the right thing- Apart from Him and His commitment to care for me and to never ever forsake me, even when I DESERVE it, He was there. And His love was that prompting for me to do the right thing. I think, though I have free will, that it was nothing that I DID to save me from the fate that would have befell my family and myself if i'd not made the right decision.
There is NO way that anything but sheer disaster would have come from making the wrong decision at that point, and He, in his amazing power and love for me- someone who doesn't even ALMOST measure up, saved me anyway.
Andrew responded to the situation not with anger or hatred. He was surprisingly, shockingly calm and loving. When I made the break and told him I wanted our marriage to work- I was going to try harder, I was going to have nothing to do with that man. He accepted my plea and loved me. His love had more of an impact on me than I can ever describe. Andrew, if you are reading this, you have to know you changed my life. You SAVED my life. You helped turn me around in ways that impact me still to this day.
God showed me on the drive home how that whole ugly situation was more than just an ugly situation- it was an analogy of my entire life. There were sins in my life i'd committed. BIG ONES. and there were sins committed against me. BIG ONES. But He is there, regardless of all the dirtiness and shame, HE is there and His love for me is not contingent on my ability to follow the law. His love for me is not contingent on my willingness to follow the law. He just loves me, period. How amazing and shocking and marvelously joyous is that?! WHY does he love me? Who the heck knows, and further, WHO CARES!?! I'll take it! And i'll return that love to the best of mhy ability. My heart burns with tearful gratitude at the one whom I could betray and yet would love me anyway. Today, i look fondly on the man in my life whom God blessed with grace to be my example of my Savior. I love Andrew with everything that is in me and my gratitude to him will never cease. How much more, then, is my gratitude toward HE who is more than the example. Jesus Christ took my sin and MY penalty for that sin. I was dead in trespasses and never could I measure up. I'm certain of that now. NEVER.
But he didn't leave me alone to suffer and die! He loved me- one who's transgressions HE had to pay. With no bitterness or anger, He just loves me.
How incredible is that?!
There is nothing more that I could wish for each of you reading than you would have the same earth-shattering realization. You don't have to earn his love, you don't have to be good enough, or pretend to be good enough so you fit in. You aren't. You never will be. But He loves you anyway. Because of HIS goodness. Not yours. Be glad. Be grateful! Repent of your sin, cry tears of sorry and regret and then wrap them all up in laughter and Joy, because on that fateful day, He proclaimed, "It is FINISHED!" No one can ever steal that from you.
This is why I can look at that man who hurt me, who tried to destroy me and not feel even a hint of anger. I don't have to! I have enough sorrow for him to take the place of that anger. Because as sure as he hurt me, he's been hurt. He's been so incredibly harmed that he was able to be a tool of the enemy who seeks to destroy and devour and devastate. I wish so much for this man to have a breakthrough, like i've experienced today. I pray that someday God will reach into his heart and change him. I pray that he will not be silent about his own sin and the sins committed against him, but be LOUD. Be as loud as I am, maybe louder. Because this is how people will know how amazing our God is. By our testimony.
When wretched sinners like me and like him stand up and share what we have done, What's been done to us, sin loses ALL of its power against us.
What's left is the overwhelming love of the one who loves us so.
With this, I leave you. Swimming in the unwarranted grace that I am somehow dripping in... hoping He'll knock you into the pool also.
Posted by Rebecca K. at 12:45 PM