She had a bad day today. Which means that we had a bad day today. We are one and the same, my daughter and I. My soul is intertwined with hers. Yet, I can find myself in the same room with her and somehow be another world away. Sometimes, in these moments, I recall Ephesians 2:10…”For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” …and I wonder what God was thinking.
This is the work. I was prepared for this. I grew up the sister of a child with special needs. My heart was seasoned with the joy and the pain…the necessary compassion…that this kind of life entailed. I knew the moment I heard the words “We believe she has Autism” that everything leading up to that moment was practice. So, if these are the works that God had prepared in advance for me to do, why am I no good at them?! Why, when she needs me most, can’t I reach into her storm and pull her out from the darkness? Why, when her body’s disregulated and she spirals out of control and is punching, kicking, and screaming at me for what feels like hours, can’t I be the thing that calms her? Why, when she’s filled with a rage that she can’t escape and I see that terror in her eyes, can’t I save her from it?! Why instead do I find myself on my knees sobbing and crying out to the very God who appointed me to care for this child, begging for the strength to get up and try again? Why would He choose me? Why give me this calling when the pain of her reality is beyond my ability?
Nothing makes a mother feel like a failure quite like helplessness. One thing Autism does very well is make you feel helpless. It makes me question my calling almost every day. Until I remember that I’m not called to save her. Someone else already has.
She knows Him. She’s asked Him into her heart. She prays to Him every night before we tuck her into bed. He has already done the good work of saving her. He tells us in His Word that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Just like all of us, she will have trouble. She will suffer.
As much as I wish I could, I’m not called to save her from her suffering. I’m called to suffer with her. I can’t pull her from the storm. But I can walk through it beside her. I can hold her hand until it’s over. I can carry her burdens (Galatians 6:2). These are my “good works”. The work He’s prepared me to do.
I refuse to give up. But when the heartache is too great and I can’t keep putting one foot in front of the other, He will carry me. So, one day at a time, I will fight the good fight…and on the days that I just can’t fight anymore, like today, I will cry. On those days, when love hurts, I will cling to the hope I have in Him and remember this truth:
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126:5