This week we had a contractor come in and put a backsplash on our kitchen walls. I’ve never had a backsplash in any of the houses we’ve owned, so this was a real treat. Jay had been here before when we had our moldy carpets removed and replaced. The first time he came, he saw Kyle running around the house naked.
Unfortunately making someone wear their clothes is not something you can force a person to do. If you don’t believe me, just have a special needs child or adult. Some of them could care less if they are in their birthday suit since they don’t see their nakedness as we view our own. Their clothing is also a control issue for them, it is one of the only things they sometimes feel they have control over.
I know what you may be thinking, “Well you could give him consequences that will make him wear his clothes.” This is partly true … we could beat him till he submits but that is not humane. Kyle doesn’t really care about consequences or think about them. You and I do.
When we have a contractor over, the last thing we want is for him to see our son with no clothes on. We feel this is an invasion of Kyle’s privacy, but there are times when we have no control over what we want or desire.
On this visit Jay could hear Sarah upstairs taking care of Kyle, he was continually saying, “I have to go pee, I have to go pee.” On Kyle’s anxious days he will use the bathroom as an escape from having to go anywhere. He was running back and forth in the hallway as Sarah patiently waited him out. She has an enormous amount of patience, and I have no clue where she gets it all from.
After they had finally left, the house was quiet. I walked into the kitchen and Jay said to me, “I don’t know how you and your husband do it, I lose my patience with my own kids and they are not like Kyle.” We ended up having a bit of a conversation on the struggles of raising a child with autism.
Sometimes people put Vance and me on a pedestal and believe we have enormous amounts of patience for Kyle. But it wasn’t always like that…
Twenty-nine years ago my husband and I were newlyweds, living away from our hometown of Wawa. One day a letter came from an old Sunday school teacher we had both had since we grew up in the same church. What a delight, a letter from home! My excitement quickly evaporated when I began to read the letter and realized it had quite a bit of constructive criticism, and our former teacher pointed out all our character flaws and how we could improve on them. The things that stuck out in my mind the most was: Cindy, you are impatient.
I was offended, how dare he! But what he said lingered in my heart and mind for quite some time. I was impatient… extremely impatient. This led me on a journey as I began to pray for patience.
NEVER PRAY FOR PATIENCE! UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO GO THROUGH THE WRINGER!
I hope you can see that sentence. I prayed for patience, and a few months later I was handed a baby that would require the patience of Mother Teresa and Gandhi rolled into one. I was a weak candidate for being a mother to a child with autism since I lacked severely in this department.
Have you ever stood in front of someone for up to an hour waiting for them to take their seizure medication, while they paced back and forth in front of you? Or had a child ask for a cookie seventy-five times in two minutes? Or tried to get them out of the house because you need to be somewhere and they are taking their sweet glorious time, as they battle an anxiety attack and now you are late?
I prayed for patience, but I didn’t get patience… I got autism.
Before you get angry at me for suggesting God would give me autism, let me explain. I know God didn’t give me autism, but he allowed me to have a child with autism. At any time God could have healed Kyle, but he chose not to, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now or my book, Beauty from Ashes. He allowed it because he knew I would gain patience, and he also knew my son’s life would touch the lives of others, through his story.
If you heard your child was about to set off a bomb that would kill hundreds of people, and you knew if you broke his legs he would not be able to do that, and it would also turn his life around…would you do it? I think most of us would say yes. You would do it out of love. We wouldn’t want our child’s actions to hurt others. Now please don’t go breaking your child’s legs, I’m just using this to make a point.
Autism turned my life around, it hasn’t been easy, and every day I still pray, God, please heal my son. Although the world sees autism as a burden, and some days it can feel that way, I have also learned to see it as a gift. I prayed for patience and many years later, through too many trials and tribulations to count, my patience has increased abundantly.
There were days after I had wrestled Kyle for fifteen minutes to get him out the door, that I was so frustrated I’d slam the door and scream at the top of my lungs. Once I even threw a glass across the room, after I shut the door and it smashed to pieces of our fireplace. I had no control in my life over anything, autism controlled every stinking moment of my life. My cries were desperate to God. I needed him every minute of the day to keep me from hurting my own child out of frustration and anger.
This morning Kyle had an anxiety attack and threw his eggs and bacon over the banister and down into the great room, just before the contractor showed up. Have you ever tried to clean scrambled eggs up? It is not an easy task. I sighed and got down on my hands and knees and began to pick up tiny bits and pieces of scrambled eggs.
I use to have a beautiful shag rug in the living room. Eventually, it had to go. It was so filled with broken glass, scrambled eggs and other ungodly stuff that we rolled it up and took it to the dump. I am still hoping to have a new rug one day, but Kyle would have to be healed from anxiety first before I could have one. So, what’s a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon all over a floor before the contractor comes through the door… nothing really.
The amazing thing is, the stuff I see other people sweat over, be impatient over… is peanuts to me now. Meaningless fluff that we as humans think is essential, but really isn’t. But sometimes I will stand back and watch someone and think to myself, That use to be me…
When we were teenagers in our church youth group, we were practicing our Christmas play one year and were all sitting around Quentin and Beth’s living room as we took turns reading our lines. I loved acting and took it very seriously. Some of the girls in the group started to get the giggles as we were practicing and it was slowing up the process. Finally, I snapped and said something rude to Heather, since she was giggling and her lines were next. The room went silent, and everyone looked over at me. All the fun was sucked out of the moment.
After Vance and I left youth group that night and he was driving me home, he said to me,”Cindy that wasn’t very nice, you hurt Heather’s feelings.” I knew he was right…I had been impatient.
Impatience is a focus on myself and my goals: I have a goal in mind, I want it accomplished by a particular time, and I don’t want anyone to get in my way. When autism came into my life, I learned my child was much more valuable than the goal I wanted to accomplish. I had to learn to put a small child’s needs ahead of my wants.
There was a silver lining in my autism cloud… I learned to be patient.
I am glad I prayed for patience almost thirty years ago, I went on a very long journey to find out how one acquires patience, and also found a deep and abiding trust in my Heavenly Father and his plans for my life.
What are you praying for? Are you hoping to snap your fingers and see God magically grant it to you, or are you willing to go on the journey of a lifetime, so that prayer can be answered… It may cause some discomfort along the way, but I can almost guarantee you it will be worth it!
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 NIV
Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. Colossians 1:11
Believing and hoping
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