The other day a friend came over. One we hadn’t seen in awhile, and Timothy got really excited as he usually does when someone comes to visit. (The same son who used to hide behind my legs or press his body so close to mine so as to become invisible to any and all.) He’s been doing so well – improving eye contact, conversation, and body and emotional self-control. But that day, I couldn’t get him to stand still and talk or look her in the eye or handle disappointment much better than he did 3 years ago. What was going on!? And I thought a thought that hasn’t crossed my mind in months; I had prayed it never would again. Yet, as I stood in the kitchen, and he was freaking out over something not worth freaking out over, I thought that shameful thought again…”God, I just need him to be normal. I just want him to be normal!”
I talked to him later as we stood in the upstairs bathroom. “Timothy, you know you have a choice. You don’t have to behave that way. You can choose self-control.” “Okay, Momma. I’m so sorry.” Me too. Selah.
That night and the next morning I shared with Nathan my troubled thoughts. How I don’t even know how to pray for Timothy. I know that God made Timothy “fearfully and wonderfully.” God has big plans for this Little Man! So, do I pray that God “heals” him of autism or do I pray that God glorifies Himself through Timothy with the autism? I know that praying for him to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man is completely appropriate (I pray that for all my kiddos), but what else do I pray? If I pray that God makes Timothy think and act “like every other child,” is that really God’s will? Is that really what I want? (No!) But if I don’t pray for him, will he be stuck thinking and acting the way he does now? Most of the time I don’t think he’s much different from my other children; they also need the reminder to look at people in the eye, to stand still, and to show self-control. So, how do I pray for him and for God’s glory and God’s will? How specific do I get before I start sounding like I want to squeeze out all the plans the Father may have for Timothy so that I can put my own ideas in?
The kids wanted to play water guns the other day. A great summer activity! Then they wanted to include the dogs; I thought, again, a great summer activity! They played for a good long time. I was able to finish some housework. I was up in my room when I could here the garage door opening and closing several times with shouts at the dogs to go back out while another little boy was saying it was okay for them to be in. I prepared myself for what inevitably would be a muddy mess, but I thought, “It’s okay! They are having fun; this is just a mess that can be cleaned up.” I psyched myself up, if you will, and was prepared for a good laugh. Then, I walk downstairs. And though I had had all that mental preparation, my spirit gave in to my weak flesh and I yelled instead of laughed. There was no good reason. We weren’t pressed for time in any way. The mess was completely clean-able. There was only one dog in the house, and though she was downstairs (which meant she had to put her wet, muddy feet on the carpet), the carpet was generally clean. As I’m yelling out loud, I’m also yelling in my head to “Stop yelling and just enjoy!” In all this commotion, my youngest boy, who is feeling “in trouble” a lot these days, begins to cry and say, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Me too. Selah.
That night I share with Nathan how I can see that Aaron feels just defeated most of the time. Like we think there’s something just so wrong with him, when really I adore who he is! I love his personality; that he doesn’t fit in any box. I love that he climbs to the tip top of our pine tree and makes shadow puppets and still climbs up and sits on the counter in the mornings while I make his chocolate milk. I just don’t know how to get him to stop crying over everything! I feel defeated most of the time.
Monday was Timothy’s first day of summer school. He has been looking forward to it since the last day of school (so my kid!)! He got up, got ready, and was coaxing Dad out the door to be there on time. I couldn’t help but think of five years ago when I had to walk him to Preschool and leave him there for the first time. I walked out crying quietly as my three year old son screamed loudly. It was one of the most horrible experiences for this mom to endure, but five years later I see a confident, eager little boy. He is an amazing writer and very good at Math. He can read very well, and he loves and prays for his friends. Today he was saying how, even though he didn’t win during soccer, he was able to to congratulate his other friends who did. Truly, God is glorifying Himself in and through Timothy. This Little Mister who is always concerned if you are okay, if you’ve had a good day, and that you know he never meant to hurt you. This guy who can remember scripture from two years ago and who loves to write about God and to God.
So, no matter my confusion over praying for Timothy, God knows exactly what He’s doing in his life! Nothing is impossible with Him! Whatever the “something” is for Timothy, God’s got it all figured out!
In the midst of my 30 year old tantrum to the muddy, wet dog mess, my oldest began to show me how to behave. I was yelling, “Why!?” while he was calmly saying, “Mom, I know it’s a mess, but I’m going to clean it up.” Somewhere in the middle of my personal, emotional mess, I stomped downstairs, got him a white dog towel, and tossed it to him. As I’m spraying the carpet with Resolve, he’s on his hands and knees wiping up brown mud with this white towel – not complaining at all! Not muttering under his breath. Not even frowning. They had laughed. They had had fun. And the mess, he knew, was worth it. I finished the carpet, and walked past him up the stairs. I began doing something in the kitchen while praying that the scowl on my face and in my heart would be erased, and as I looked down into the “mud area” I saw my Little Christ doing something I had not expected. He had gone to get the mop, and after wiping everything with the towel, was now mopping the floor and the stairs. Mind you, I had not asked him to do any of this! He continued up the stairs and mopped the muddy footprints off the kitchen floor. He continued right into the mess of my heart, humbled me, and lit up just like Jesus to me.
Christopher wasn’t scared off or appalled enough over my actions to lash out or to leave. Instead, he was encouraged and spurred on by his unconditional love for me. Unworthy Momma! Graced-over Momma!
It is Wednesday now. All of these thoughts have been whirling around in my head and heart since Monday. I have wondered if I should even share them or if I would ever have time and energy to share them:). But I want to. I want to share them because they are part of my every day. Every day I get to see Christ. Be it in the gentleness and faithfulness of my husband, in the calm and compassion of my Christopher, in the care, concern, and excitement in my Timothy, in the laughter and the cuddles with my Aaron, in the kisses and hugs from my Hannah, in the comforting movements of my Ruth, in the flight and song of the sparrows, or in the “goodness and faithful love” that the Father pursues me with all my days. And always, always in the forgiveness! I fail so often, but my Savior doesn’t count my failures; He counts the hairs on my head. He doesn’t forget me; He never forsakes me. His love endures forever, and because of Jesus, I get to be a part of His forever love. So, if every time I fall, I know His grace – His pure, white grace – is washing off my muddy, sinful self, the mess will not be in vain.The ashes will have been made into beauty. The shame will turn into sanctification, and my weakness will be transformed into strength…