"I was already on a spiritual journey, but engaging this process with my son and ASD has me on another level!" - Monica, mom of an 8 year old boy diagnosed with autism.
The Blissfulness of Same
Autism means dealing with lots of the same thing, over and over, and over again, often mixed with compulsion and vigor. My son's high need for control triggers my own and we both study to create as much predictability as possible. And with some planning and strategizing, we get it! The result: that brief moment of control in autism land.
A Terrible New Deal
But a day comes when things change. It could be anything: a new illness, change of school or medication or home address. In a moment, all the pseudo-predictability is gone. It feels like the normal confusion of having the rug pulled out from beneath you, mixed the disorientation of the twilight zone. On Spectrum Road, normal rules don't apply and it always takes some practice to figure out the current rules in operation.
We just had a combination of changes, including a not experienced before, very uncomfortable, contagious illness. Not only did all the kids become residents of the home sick bay (with me the only nurse), but the nature of the challenge varied so that it triggered everyone's specific Achilles Heel. OCD, sensory hypersensitivity, anxiety, poor sleep patterns... As I realized what the next several days would entail, I confess to many moments of panic and railing at God. Why me??
Sometimes I engage my journey with God through Spectrum Land like an unwilling captive. I resist every potential discomfort, distrusting new experiences, framing old ones through the lens of pain and resentment. This resistance usually begins with the Why me?? sentiment and continues through a litany of reasons why not me.
I really want to engage this journey with the attitude of an explorer. What is God inviting me into? What will I engage and grow through today? If I truly trust His hand (and honestly, when do I truly trust His hand) then I can know that He's actively engaged in my life, working in all the areas that concern me. I can trust his deep love for me and His commitment to connection with me. I can see glimpses of His orchestration, using bits and pieces of my experiences to provide for others. That's when I'm an explorer.
So for these days, I tried a tiny bit of the explorer mindset.
- I yielded. This is what it is. I cleared my calendar and created mental and emotional space to encounter the unknown.
- I unstressed. There was a strange freedom and relaxation that came with yielding. There were no plans to be thwarted because there were no plans.
- I noticed small things like the differences between my children. They needed different types of support from me and I heard myself spouting wise words that I thought, I better write that down, sounds like something I should be applying!
- I'm documenting the experiences, reactions, realizations, questions and God Whispers that have come our way during this time. It's like a time capsule, to help me continue the exploration in the days and weeks ahead.
We're days away from closing the family sick bay, and I'm exhausted. I confess the explorer and captive are in a heated battle, but I'm praying for the explorer. Through that lens, I see these past days as a gift from God. This gift is wrapped in many layers of wrapping paper. Even the paper is part of the gift. One sheet is the gift of patience, another is hope. Another sheet is love and yet another resilience. One sheet is faith, another tenacity. Perseverance, the power to choose, the power to yield.. The more I peel, the more gifts emerge. The captive is blind to these gifts. Maybe James is right...
Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.James 1:2-4 (The VOICE)
Embrace the Journey!
I pray strength for your inner explorer. I hope whatever comes your way today, you will embrace the invitation from God to participate with Him in whatever comes your way, you'll let go, notice and create a time capsule to savor in the days to come. Who knew all the ways you would grow on this journey with God?
Oh! The Places You'll Go!
by the Incomparable Dr. Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!