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I never knew what I was missing
Thinking back to life before Autism, there are definitely some things that I miss. Before having my son, I was an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force. There was always the potential for travel, excitement, and adventure... I had a decent income, which meant I could do all kinds of fun stuff. I received several awards and acknowledgement for my achievements, which I loved.😊 I also didn't realize how much I was depending on my own strength or how much I was letting my head swell. I began to sense it and prayerfully decided to separate from the military when I had my son.
Autism is shaping me for the better
I don't mean to make light of the serious challenges Autism can present. I've written before about not wanting the painful aspects for my son, but appreciating the good that comes with Autism. It took me a long time, however, to realize how much Autism has also been shaping me for the better.
Praising God for the struggles
My mom went through a really rough few years a while back and shared a story with me about a pastor learning to praise God for his problems. It really got me thinking. I believe God allows us to be refined by struggles, but their cause is rooted in a fallen world. I don't believe for a second that God desires for us to be in pain. With that, I am eager to share how God has used Autism in our lives for so much growth.
Pride- At the risk of sounding like an utter jerk... before my son was born, I could care less what he looked like, but eagerly desired for him to be smart. I think that maybe has to do with where I grew up, and having un-diagnosed ADHD as a child. My pride took a major hit and I was so convicted on it when my son was unable to speak. I knew he was smart, but no one else knew - and I realized I had placed way too much emphasis on his intellectual ability and it was mainly because I felt it would reflect well on me. I didn't at all realize that until it was gone.
Patience- I was so impatient. I've still got a long way to go, but I am getting there on the hurry up and wait ability. Between Autism, military life, and homeschooling, my temper is being worked on everyday. I've learned that I can't rush God in His timing in things. Keko began to speak on God's time. I've also learned that the things I desire which are not in God's plan, are withheld for my good. I may just have to be patient long enough to understand why.
Dependence- As I said before, I completely depended on my own self. Some days I still do. I am not sure why, other than human habit, because I never do as well as He can. There have been so many struggles pop up where I just have no control. None. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless as a special needs parent. These dark hours have drawn me closer to God. They have taught me that I can depend on his strength and live in His peace in the midst of a storm.
Empathy- This one kind of goes back to pride for me. I feel like pride is the root of all sin honestly. 😞 I think its the most basic problem with humans. Our wounded pride causes so many problems. Before becoming a parent, I was so quick to judge other parents based on my experience helping to raise my nephew.🤦 I always saw everything as a competition. Oh my friend, this is no competition. You are no better or worse, and neither am I. We are completely incomplete humans trying to survive and finish this race. With all of the issues we have faced (from being non-verbal, to school, to health...), I am painfully aware now that we need to be building each other up and not judging each other. There are so many hidden pains and factors in our lives. We don't know what we don't know about each other. Just be there for each other. 💙
Everyone grows up sometime?
I know part of those nasty traits were probably bigger and badder in me because I was in my early 20's and not yet a parent. I know we all mature over time, even if some may seem like they will never get there. I honestly don't think, however, that I would have been anywhere close to where I am today (which includes realizing how in need I will always be of grace). Strengthening these skills has had a profound impact on my relationships. I can't imagine how many relationships may have been destroyed or never even cultivated otherwise!
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.
I am so grateful for a God who allows the pain of this world to be used for good. I am grateful that He has used Autism to allow me to see how incomplete I am on my own; starting me on the forever journey of finding my completeness in Him.
What struggles are you grateful for today?