The Past few months I have been doing quite a bit of thinking, reflecting, re-directing. My son turned 13 in September, in the middle of a stretch of REALLY rocky road on this journey with Autism. School had started in August, and one month in, He still had not settled back into routine, and it was clear from almost day one, something was wrong. He protested that school was bad, and cried daily, BEGGING to stay home. He started running from class, his behavior went downhill FAST, and He started trying to hurt himself at school, all so He could come home. He was not sleeping at night…which of course meant, I was not sleeping at night.
All the no sleep gave me plenty of time to think, to cry, and to pray. I looked back at when the journey began. I thought about how long I had been fighting…with Doctors, insurance companies, schools. I realized I was Exhausted, I longed for a break from the “front lines”. I lost sight of just how far we have come, the progress made. My focus was off. I spent more time focusing on how tired I was, on the storms raging around me than on my source of Hope. Exhaustion took over, and I started to get angry. I felt lost and alone. I felt helpless. The worse things seemed to get for my son at school, the more helpless I felt. I was sinking, and I knew it. What I didn’t know, was how to turn my focus back to where it needed to be.
One night I was talking to a friend about it all, venting and crying, and she said to me “Stop. It’s time for you to remember you are not alone. It’s time for you to stop focusing on how hard it is, and focus on what you need to do. Your kids need you to not fall apart.” My mom listened to me day in and day out, crying on the phone sometimes for hours, she never stopped praying, never stopped encouraging.
One Sunday in Sunday school, my Sunday School teacher said ” I don’t know why but before we start I feel I need to read a passage of scripture that is totally unrelated to what we are studying.” He read Habakkuk 3:17-18 which reads as follows:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
It was a wake up call for me, a Reminder that I need to give thanks to God NO MATTER WHAT. That even in the darkest hours, I should be praising God, in the Midst of the storm. My Focus should be on HIM and not on the waves crashing around me. I was reminded of a Psalm that My Dad used to read to us all the time when I was Growing Up:
I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
I realized that I needed to start making a Conscious choice, every day, to give Thanks…to put my focus on God, and not on how big the storm was. God Knows what my son needs, even if Dak can’t tell me what is wrong. God goes with Dak to school, even if I Can’t. I started turning it all over, one step at a time, releasing control BACK to God. I did not realize I had been trying to handle it all on my own. Autism is TOO big for me. I Can’t do it. I don’t understand it. I started making the CHOICE to let go of each worry….My son’s fear of school…My Youngest Daughter’s grief over losing her closest friend to Cancer the end of August….Financial stresses…..As each doubt or worry or fear crept in, I fought it. Verses I have known all my life came back to my mind….
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
All the worrying I do was dragging me down. God has NEVER let me down. He has ALWAYS kept his word, so WHY was I wearing myself out stressing about every little bump in the road. Like Peter when He stepped out of the boat, I had taken my eyes off Jesus and put my focus on the water, and was sinking. (Matthew 14:22-33 ). I began to pray for help re-directing my focus OFF of how hard things are and back onto the one who gave His life for me. As I cried night after sleepless night, HE gave me a song…one I have known since childhood, but had forgotten….
You said you’d come and share all my sorrows
You said you’d be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending you away,
But just like you promised, you came there to stay
I just had to pray
And Jesus said
“Come to the water, stand by my side
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied
I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you
cried, and I strove to remind you,
That for those tears I died”
We have been studying Saul and David in Sunday school, and This week we were looking at 1 Samuel 13 and Israel’s fear of the Philistine Army. The root of Israel’s fear was that they forgot their Identity in God ( they are God’s Chosen People) and they lost their Hope in God. They forgot about all the times before when God had rescued them from overwhelming Odds, because God IS Bigger. This Hit me like a ton of bricks. How often have I forgotten all the times God has Provided, heard my cry, answered my prayers, come to my rescue when all seemed hopeless. I realized I was letting Fear into my day to day, and when Fear takes over, darkness sets in. I was reminded that Perfect Love Casts out Fear. (1 John 4:18) God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of Power, Love and a sound Mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). I continued to look deeper into this, seeking God’s help to overcome my struggle with worry, fear and anxiety and He reminded me of my Identity in HIM. He reminded me I am Bought with a Price, and when He looks at my life he does not see all the bad I have done, He sees what Jesus did for me when He died on the cross.
I cried again, asking the question once again that I have asked SO many times in the past 10 years since we heard the words “Your son has Autism”…I asked “WHY?” The answer I got was the same one I got all the times before…..
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
WOW…lets hear that again…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I need to Daily remember that..NO Matter what comes my way, HIS Grace IS enough. I am not perfect, and I struggle with this daily. I am learning to turn my focus OFF the storms in my life, and to look TO Jesus…My Hope, My Refuge, my deliverer, my Peace. I am thankful for the Blessings he gave me when He gave me my three children. I am thankful for the lessons that autism continues to teach me about love, about patience, about peace and hope and joy. Sure, the road is hard, and the tears often fall, sleep is often …well non existent, but HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH!