FIRST-PERSON: He's listening to a story about Jesus
CHURCH HILL, Tenn. (BP) -- Just a year ago I would never have imagined snapping a picture of my little guy sitting and listening to a story about Jesus -- or sitting and listening to anything at all.
That is normal expected behavior for 4-year-olds. At least for a little while for children with fidgety hands and squirmy bodies.
I'm quite proud of Miles sitting there and appearing to listen. But this isn't the behavior I repeatedly expect and once idolized for my son. I would often base a "good day" on his ability to appear normal and do age-appropriate activities.
Have I let go of expectations for my autistic son? Absolutely not!
However, I have adjusted my grace and mercy toward my child who has special needs.
In the beginning I would find myself filled with anxiety over the lack of controlled behavior. Now, because God has so lovingly poured out His care for this special needs mama, I am able to extend that same grace and love to my special needs child.
Jesus came to give us life and to have a more abundant life. Our children were not given to us to fulfill this purpose, rather that Jesus would be glorified through them.
Yes, children can fulfill a woman's longing to be called "Mom." But mamas sometimes allow a picturesque ideal of normal to become our idol (at least, I did).
When I finally turned my attention to my Father instead of my unruly, loud and messy child, only then did I capture the heart of Jesus. Because following Jesus isn't about performance or following a list of rules. His mercy, grace and love have already been poured out.
We cannot take our empty heart-cups to Him to fill if our knuckles are white from clinging to this idea of kid perfection.
I have learned:
-- Do the best you can, mama.
-- Don't compare.
-- Bring your special needs kiddo to Jesus and watch miracles happen.
-- The miracle may be something as simple as your child joining in circle story time.
-- Enjoy the child God gave you or you will miss out on many blessings.
-- Let go of expectations based off either 1) others' opinions or 2) your own grappling with perfection.
-- Rest: In Jesus and in your bed!
Instead of giving into weighted assumptions of how life is to be lived, autism has given me permission to let go and let God.
Autism will forever be full of surprises, but so will my heavenly Father.