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Lessons from Autism: The Joy of Hope

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It was the news I was dreading, the news I had prayed a million times wouldn’t come. On our journey to answers about Joy’s developmental delays, this was my biggest fear and now it was real. I had rehearsed my reaction to the news plenty of times in my head. I shouldn’t have been surprised.  I should have been prepared. But I wasn’t.

No parent is prepared to hear that their child has a disability.

No parent wants to hear, “Your child has Autism.”

Our lives changed in the blink of an eye and I was devastated. Questions, larger than life questions, loomed in front of me as reality set in.

While I loved my child and recognized she was a gift from God, honestly, she can be a challenge to parent.  With this new label, I had to face the cold, hard truth.  Those behaviors I prayed were only temporary phases and part of the little years, may be permanent.

She may tantrum excessively, at any given moment for no reason. Forever.

She may unexpectedly bang her head against the wall, and I will have to rush to keep her from hurting herself. Forever.

She may scream or play LOUDLY in the middle of the night, leaving one tired mama in her aftermath. Forever.

She may not communicate well or at all. Forever.

She may be in diapers and require full assistance with daily living skills. Forever.

She may live with me. Forever.

These realizations of what my entire life could be like, with little respite from her, were daunting.

I felt trapped.

I wanted to run away and never come back.

And I was plagued with guilt and so ashamed of these new thoughts.

How could someone who was desperate for children at one point dream of running away from home, and of finding peace and solace in solitude?

Who thinks these thoughts? Certainly not a child of God! Why did I feel so lost and abandoned on this new journey? I knew God was with me, so why wasn’t I alright? Why wasn’t He taking this burden from me and healing my child as He has healed so many?

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The evil one was there too, trying to persuade me that I would never find happiness in the confines of Autism and fill me with lies.  He whispered that Autism had its clutches on my girl now, and it would never let her go. This disability meant I would never have peace here on earth. At this time I needed to think about me, what this was going to look like for my life and how I will never spend my retirement years traveling the world as planned.

I was in the pit of despair, so engulfed by grief that I could not see anything but my present circumstances and believing the evil one’s lies. I felt trapped in a sea of darkness, held captive in chains of bitterness with no chance of breaking free.

Yet, in my heart I knew the truth.  I knew that the grief would not swallow me whole although at that moment I thought it would.

I knew that God was there.

Through the darkness and through the pain, I never stopped talking to Him, crying to Him and sharing my heart with Him.  It was in those candid chats with God, where I was honest and fully let down my guard, that I saw IT.  IT was a tiny ray of light, piercing through the darkest nights and the wildest storms.  This light, so pure, and radiant, was a ray of hope.  This hope did not come from self help books, reading up on how to treat my child’s condition, or even the gentle words from my loving family.

This tiny pin-prick of light, was solely from the Lord. It was His glory and His power that penetrated the blackness of my soul and a tiny flicker of hope started to grow. This glory began to overshadow the darkness, day by day, as I brought my sorrow to His throne.  This glory would surprise me with moments of joy and glimpses of a new future and a new path.

Eventually God’s light took me over, captured my soul and restored my brokenness.  I realized that that light, that glorious light, was God’s hope, not the hope I had come to know.  Without realizing it, hope to me had become dependent on how much progress Joy made, how often she threw a fit, how much she interacted with us and how well she slept. I had put my hope in the hands of a 3 year old girl.

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But God’s hope does not depend on my child’s behavior or how much progress she makes.

God’s hope met me in that place, that pit of despair and rescued my heart from destruction.

God’s hope is dependent on following His lead on this journey through life and trusting that He will not let me fall.

God’s hope rests in knowing that that I WILL see Him in heaven and spend eternity basking in His glory; free from the pain of this world.

God’s hope gently reminds me that life is unexpected and I may struggle with my child over the years, but He fulfills my every longing and will give me the strength to get through each day if I set my eyes on Him.

God’s hope is far greater than any pain here on earth and His hope will bring healing and life to a wounded heart.

God’s hope fills me with His joy and allows peace to penetrate my soul on days when I am weary and overwhelmed.

God’s hope has changed me over the course of this year and has given me a new vision for our life as a family.  We have our good days, those days where Joy is full of words and has clarity and progress. We have those days where my heart aches because I have battled her all day long.  Either way, I have learned to put my hope in God and trust that there is more to life than what I see in my limited vision. On good days and on bad, that hope, the promise of my Abba wiping away every tear from my eyes, is enough.  He’s enough hope for this battered soul and enough hope to get you through this crisis of today and the tragedies of tomorrow. HE IS ENOUGH!

Is there a time when all seemed dark yet you chose to put your hope in God? Are you struggling now and need some prayer?  I would be honored to pray for you, so either leave a comment below or send me an email. May you remember today that God’s hope will outshine any darkness and blot out any grief.  Hugs to each of you, my friends!

This post was linked to Juana MikelsVibrant Cottage and Holley Gerth.

 

About Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a perfectly imperfect wife and mother, and is thankful for the saving grace of the Lord. When she’s not busy folding yet another load of laundry or comforting a crying child, she enjoys studying God’s Word, writing, and spending time with authentic friends. She's passionate about equipping women to live with intentional faith, family, home, and habits at Proverbs31Mentor.com. Join her for biblical encouragement and practical lifestyle tips to help you live on mission for the glory of God.

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12 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this post! It’s BEAUTIFUL and a great challenge! Thanks again! <3

  2. I love the part about putting hope in God, not progress or our circumstances. Those always seem easier, but they leave us feeling empty and anxious. Thank you for such great encouragement to look for that ray!

  3. I love how honest you are. I know we want the world for our kids and the reality that your sweet girl won’t have the life you were dreaming (and niether will you) is hard, but I think you are doing the right things. I want to have more of a relationship with God. I struggle with doubting that I truly belive (if that makes sense). I thank you for your posts.

    1. Thanks, Amie Jo for your sweet spirit! I always appreciate how encouraging you are! I too, have struggled with my faith at times, so know you are not alone in this! But God loves us, even when we doubt and for that, I am thankful. If you ever need to talk or have questions, I am happy to provide a listening ear. While I don’t have all of the answers, I know just where to find them! 🙂

    1. I’m ecstatic and so humbled for the nomination!!! Thanks, my friend!

  4. I’m so sorry your daughter has autism. Thank you for sharing this open-hearted, touching post. A friend of mine has a grandson who has autism, so I plan to send this to her. Thank you, Sarah Ann, for comforting my heart today in reminding me that “God’s hope is far greater than any pain here on earth and His hope will bring healing and life to a wounded heart.” God bless you and your family!

    1. Thanks Trudy!! I appreciate your thoughtfulness and prayers more than you will ever know. May God bless you and thank you for stopping by!

  5. I love that you choose to share your story with us. It’s inspiring and encouraging!! Thanks for your transparency!
    Link-up tomorrow for WYWW!

    1. Thanks, Leslie!! I will see you at the link-up! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I recently stubbled across your blog and felt immediately connected to your journey. As I read this blog, tears streamed down my face as the emotions came flooding back after hearing the “A” word is relation to my daughter. I mourn the dream of what I envisioned for my her and look to God for comfort. I can only have faith in Him and find peace in my heart that all will be okay. Without a doubt, this is a roller coaster ride but as time goes by and with lots of therapy things improve. Thank you for your openness and know that you are not alone in this Autism journey.

    1. Yvette,

      Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone! Sometimes it’s a lonely journey, but I am learning to rely on the Lord for joy, strength and peace. Many blessings to you on your journey with your daughter!

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