We’re doing it tomorrow. THE talk. The talk I’ve dreaded since shortly after her diagnosis. The one where we tell our daughter that she has Autism.
She has no idea as of now but we know it’s time. I’ve been researching and planning for over a week. Talking points, social stories, tips from others who have been through it…I’d had my heart set on finding a book about Autism that I could give her as a gift. Something that we could read together after talking about her diagnosis that would remind her that she’s perfect just as she is. Something really special. My heart sank when my search came up empty. It just added to the stress of prepping and trying to make everything perfect. I was trying to do it all and still hold it together emotionally. That last part wasn’t going so well.
I know that, in many ways, this discussion will make things better for her. That some things she’s been wondering about will make more sense. Yet, that doesn’t make it any easier on a Mama’s heart. There’s something about looking into that sweet face, those big green eyes that still shine with innocence, and telling her that she’s different…it’s just not something I ever wanted to have to tell my little girl. I know that we’re all different; that we all have struggles and we all have special abilities. (Just finished up a social story that will tell her just that.) We fully plan to make this conversation a positive one. But none of that can erase the reality that having Autism will make her an outcast on several occasions throughout her life. No matter how hard I try to change the world around her…I can’t change that there will always be people who will be unkind. People who will treat her as less than, simply because her differences have a label. Everything in me longs to protect her. I want to take away the pain that comes along with the struggles of her daily life. I want to enter her world and make her feel safe. So much of the time I just can’t. I can pray constantly. I can take classes to educate myself on how to best provide what she needs. But I can’t make the world see what I see when I look at her. I might not even be able to make her see it. That breaks me.
With the weight of tomorrow coming, the past couple of weeks have been heavy with anxiety, tears and desperate prayer. I’ve been fighting a battle against my own feelings of “less than”, my own fears and weaknesses. I’ve avoided social events, slacked on the housework, and let my to-do list collect dust. Every ounce of energy has gone into putting one foot in front of the other and storing up my courage for what’s ahead. My depression kicked it up a notch and panic attacks made repeat appearances. The worry’s been weighing me down and, as I walked into church this morning, my goal was to not let anyone see the tears I knew I’d end up crying. During worship, I sang more quietly than usual, realizing that I wasn’t focused on God at all. The One who gave me the privilege of being her mom deserved more from me than worry. He deserved faith. I decided in that moment to push it all aside in my mind and praise. Praise, with whatever energy I had left, as if He’d already carried me through this storm. As if tomorrow was over and everything went beautifully. As if He’d been there, filling our conversation with His truth about how uniquely He created her to be and about the plan He has for her life. I decided to simply praise Him for who He is, for all that He’s already brought me through, trusting that He will carry me through this as well…to praise Him for the win before the battle has been won.
I had a Sunshine Session after church, taking photos for the family of a little boy with Autism. Being my passion, this was my chance to escape into something I love. Capturing images of children with special needs fills me with a certain kind of joy that, for the moment, makes me forget my own troubles. I get lost in their beauty, and so deeply love watching their families interact and care for one another. As the session ended, this little guy’s mom gave me a gift. A book. A book she’d written herself, called “Different Not Less”.
THAT is our God.
That little boy’s mom had no idea what the gift she’d just handed me meant in that moment. She had no clue that God was using her to help our family in a way so deeply special and important, at the exact moment we needed it. But that’s what God does. Regardless of our lack of faith during stressful times, He shows up! He never fails us. His ways aren’t always easy for us to understand and His timing may be entirely different than what we’d like, but He is there! He never abandons us. In the middle of my mess, when I was inwardly focused on my own stress and anxiety, not giving Him that unwavering faith He deserves from me…He was there. He never left my side. He was orchestrating the perfect moment and the perfect gift all along.
When we choose to praise Him in the times that our world feels like it’s crashing down, He honors that love. He honors the choice to trust Him and He blesses us in ways that are so much more beautiful than we ever could’ve imagined for ourselves.
THAT is our God.
He will be there with us tomorrow as we tell our child about her disability. He will be there with us when we fight the battles that her Autism brings. And He will be there when we celebrate her victories. Because The One who designed us all so differently, loves us all so deeply.