“It’s okay.” These were the words a godly counselor shared with me one day when I was distraught over my child’s diagnosis of autism. Clifford was a friend of the family and a marriage and family therapist who had come to town for a visit.
My first thoughts were to scream at him, “No, it’s not okay. How can you say it’s okay?” But he was a wise older gentleman so I unraveled my emotional tightrope and let it flex a little.
Then I rambled on some more … ”But what if she never makes friends?”
My friend just listened.
“It’s okay,” he said.
“But what if she can’t live on her own one day?”
“It’s okay,” he repeated.
This man has the most soothing voice on the planet so I was beginning to relax in spite of myself.
I took a deep breath. It calmed me a little.
Clifford had raised a foster child who had schizophrenia. He told me about how he would brush her hair after her bath and talk and how they enjoyed that time together.
“Why is he telling me this?” I thought.
Finally, after he had repeated his mantra a few more times, I started to get it.
Clearly, autism or schizophrenia are not what we wish for. But if God allowed it in our lives, then maybe it can be okay? Is that what he was trying to say?
I didn’t really see it then. I wanted my daughter cured or dramatically improved. But he planted into my mind and heart the seed that this might not be such a big deal someday. Maybe, just maybe, I could get to the point where saying that my daughter has autism wouldn’t cause a catch in my throat.
This interaction with my therapist/friend took place 20 years ago. I’m now back in school to become a marriage and family therapist. I can talk about my daughter with autism easily now. I can talk about how autism affected our family for better and for worse. I can share about the periods of scary aggression and the times when she was depressed.
I can also share how she loves her dog, Eddie, and what a cute pair they are. And about how she was selected to go to the USA Special Olympics Games next summer—as one of only two tennis players from across Northern California.
Things could be better now in some ways. They could also be worse. So, somehow, it’s okay just the way it is. I’m learning that life is not a race or a competition to win—no need to be perfect for us to enjoy it.
God knew what He was doing when he gave your child to you. Whatever you are going through now that is unacceptable, know that God knows all about it and He knows it’s okay in the end. It will just be part of the story that God created the day you and your child became his new masterpieces.
So take a deep breath.
Enjoy what you can.
Dr. Karen Crum brings hope and practical support to parents through her blog and award-winning book, Persevering Parent: Finding Strength to Raise Your Child with Social, Emotional or Behavioral Challenges. Join her blog and link to her book at www.PerseveringParent.com.