What does it mean to have faith on this parenting journey? September will mark 16 years since autism came into our lives. J was 22 months old.
In the very early days, faith meant trusting God for healing. People prayed and encouraged and gave us timelines for God’s miracle. “By 6 he will be healed!” they said. I knew to treat that with caution, since they had also told me he would sleep through the night at 5 months. In those days, faith meant believing healing was possible.
God, I know you can do anything, and you understand my son’s body fully. Please heal him completely, and honor Your Name in the process.
In the early childhood years, I quickly hit autism burnout. I got tired of the therapies, tired of the forest of interventions with no roadmap, tired of the cost, tired of learning the hard way (“Oh I should have done that first??”), tired of the cost, tired of not sleeping, tired of going through support staff that didn’t value what I valued, tired of the cost … One day, I yelled, “Stop world!” pulled my children around me and retreated into my cave. Faith in those days meant seeing beauty in the way J was in that moment, in not fixing, in loving as is.
Lord, thank you for these sacred moments of pulling away, and loving you through lovingly caring for my son, this gift you have given us. Help me be a channel of your love to him.
Puberty brought autism on steroids to our lives and faith meant believing I could make it, believing that I could be safe, believing that my energy would be renewed daily, believing that there were people out there who would love my son if I couldn’t care for him any more.
God, I do love him and sacrificially worship you as I express my love for him. But please, could we at least get potty training?
The teen years brought an unveiling. New interventions, approaches, thoughts came my way. Old, shelved thoughts resurfaced. Faith meant daring to believe that help was still possible, yet wrestling with what loving acceptance of an almost-adult with autism looked like. Faith meant challenging my assumptions about my son, about myself, about autism.
Please God, potty training? But also help me to believe again that the sky is the limit.
After this past year, I’ve had to wonder if the Healer had been at work and I hadn’t been paying attention. In the past year, J has suddenly started potty training himself. It’s not complete, but there it was, having nothing to do with me. In the past year, I noticed that he’s able and willing to imitate fine motor movements. When did that happen?? He asked to watch tv! What has been happening that I’ve not been noticing because I’ve stopped looking? In the past year, he typed a sentence!! I had no idea …
Which takes me back to today. Faith again means healing is possible. But today, my son’s healing doesn’t look like it looked when I first imagined it so many years ago. I actually don’t know what healing looks like. Faith looks like believing that the Healer has been healing, and been healing more than I have had eyes to see. Faith now looks like believing that God can show up and glorify Himself in anything, at any moment and that I can’t script it. It’s a re-evaluation of everything I thought I knew.
The faith challenge for me today is believing that the Healer has already been working in the minds and hearts of the people who will encounter my son. That one is hard for me. I’ve lived life as his advocate, training, teaching, mentoring, giving voice to the wisdom he’s taught me by being himself. It’s become easy to believe that God can influence others when I’m there to be His mouthpiece. What if I’m not there?? Like at school?? Honestly, I’d somewhat given up on school. It’s just the place he goes for now. My expectations there have been deliberately low. I’m not there to advocate daily! (Well … I wasn’t there when he was learning to imitate motor movements or …)
But I am.
That brought me to a huge pause. God is. Faith is seeing the Invisible God (Hebrews 11:27).
So today, I’m getting a faith overhaul. I just never know what God will do. I’m going to believe that He is. He’s healing, loving, energizing, transforming, empowering, revealing, caring, supporting, guiding—for the glory of His Great Name. I hope you get a glimpse of the invisible God today, and it energizes your faith, on this parenting journey.
Written By: Faith Clarke