I’ve been a Christian basically my entire life. It’s just part of who I am. I don’t consider myself religious – I actually don’t like that word nor its connotations – but I believe, I pray, I have faith that I will be going to Heaven when all is said and done. That doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts or struggles, especially when “bad things” happen.
I had a light-bulb moment in church on Sunday. The subject of the sermon was Peter and how he denied Christ three times, but then was reconciled after Jesus rose. Things happen in life. Sometimes we walk stronger in our faith. Sometimes, we fall away. The main message was – or what I really took away from it – we can always come back, the door is always open, and there will be celebration when we do return and are reconciled.
When Big Man was born, it was a terrifying time. There was so much fear, hurt, heartache, grief, despair. We didn’t know if our child was going to survive, and, if he did survive, we had no guarantee he would be anything close to normal. That alone would give a person every reason to turn her back on God. How could He let this happen to me, to my child? I didn’t turn away. I hit my knees. I was surrounded by family and friends who loved us, loved our son, prayed for all of us. And I fully believe our son is a living, walking, breathing miracle. I handed him over to God because it was all I could do for him. I couldn’t hold him when I wanted to. I couldn’t feed him as you would a full-term baby….he ate through a tube. I stared at him through the walls of a plastic box. I could hardly see his face for all the tubes, wires, and tape. Since I couldn’t be a normal mom, I prayed. When he had bad days, I cried out. When he had good days, I celebrated. That journey drew me closer to God. I could feel Him with me, especially on our hardest days.
When Little Man was diagnosed, it was a relief. We finally had a name for what was going on. We had direction. We had a plan. I was also at a point in my life church wasn’t even on the priority list. I still believed, but practice was a different thing entirely. I became consumed with the care, therapy, and education for my littlest love. That has continued for the most part for the past two-and-a-half years. It takes up so much of my time and energy every single day. Even when he’s not with me, I’m wondering how he’s doing, if he’s okay, what’s going to have to happen when he gets home. The latest episodes with suicidal thoughts, sleeplessness, and medicine changes have added fuel to that fire. When this bad thing happened in my life (which I do some days call a bad thing, but more on that later), I was already far away from God. This pulled me further away. There wasn’t enough room in my life for God. I have been too busy taking care of Little Man.
It hit me on Sunday morning as I sat there listening that I can come back. If I continue to let Little Man’s autism consume every part of my life, then I’m failing in so many other relationships. I have a husband who needs me to be fully present for him. I have two other children who also need my attention, love and focus. I have friendships I need to give attention to, people who need me, people I need. I have God who wants me to put Him first so all other things can and will fall into place. I’m not saying that if I focus on God, pray a little more, go to church every Sunday, and only read Christian literature or listen to Christian music, Little Man will be miraculously healed. I do believe if I re-prioritize, I will better be able to manage whatever each day may throw at me. That’s the difference-maker.
Just a footnote: It is not my intention to preach here. I’m not saying that what I believe, what works for me has to be the path you follow. For the most part, my blog is me working through things in my head and heart. This is where I am in my journey through life. Whether you believe in God or not, I hope you’ll continue to read and share our journey. We all need community of one sort or another, regardless of religious beliefs. I am a Christian. I do believe. That’s who I am. But I have never, ever been the type to make shared belief a “requirement” for friendship or community.