These past few weeks have been life-altering. God reached down and shook the very core of me. Not one person was aware of it…but, for me, everything changed.
During worship time at church one day, a child with Autism was singing. We all were, but she was singing…
Belting. It. Out.
She was all-in. Her words floated out over the congregation and filled the room with the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit in such a way that brought me to tears. There were a few people glancing her way with dirty looks but, me…I could not stop smiling. It was extremely loud, it was way off-key, but it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
That morning reminded me of something my heart knew but my mind had lost sight of: Autism has a mind-blowing, game-changing, eternity-shifting, ripple-effect-having purpose…
“This happened so that the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:3
This verse is the answer to the question so many parents of children with disabilities ask: “Why?!…Why my child?!”
I’ve asked it myself. More than once. God always, without fail, brings me back to this truth and the proof is written all over my daughter’s life! I haven’t had to spend agonizing years searching for the answer, or live with the empty feeling of believing that Autism “just happened” to my child, like some accident or mistake. God doesn’t make mistakes! Don’t get me wrong, this journey is HARD. Undeniably one of the hardest things I’ll probably ever experience, but it’s no mistake. He allowed it and He allowed it for a reason. I could’ve been mad. I could’ve hated God for allowing this to happen to my child; to my family. But then I would’ve missed it…
You see, my daughter is an all-in worshipper as well. Autism creates for her a constant battle with anxiety but she doesn’t have a single ounce of worry about raising her hands to Heaven during worship songs, even if she’s in a room packed full of people. She will sing at the top of her lungs and dance as if no one is watching. She connects with God on a level, at the age of eight, that most adults I know have never reached…because she has Autism. Not in spite of it.
Whether she’s alone in our living room or on a stage in front of hundreds of people, when she’s worshipping Jesus…nothing else matters. She is experiencing His love and His holiness through and through because she doesn’t care what anyone around her is thinking of her. She’s focused on Him alone. She’s giving Him her whole self; everything she has. She is enjoying His presence and not letting anything get in the way of showing God just how happy He makes her.
She is joy. His joy. All-consuming love written all over her face. She’s all-in. Because she has Autism. Not in spite of it.
That joy. It’s contagious. His glory shines through her. Through every person with Autism, with any disability, that I’ve personally met.
How do I know that this isn’t just my mom emotions talking? That I’m not just being biased because I’m passionate about individuals with disabilities? Because I’ve had countless people, many of them whom I’d never met before, come to me and tell me how she’s changed their lives…because of that joy. Because of the freedom in her worship and in her love for God. Because she’s all-in! He designed her perfectly to point the world around her to Him. In her strengths and in her weaknesses, she is evidence of His presence.
This is the truth that, as a special needs parent, sets me free. His power. Her disability. They are intertwined. She brings Him glory. A specific kind of glory that only someone with Autism can bring. This purpose…this purpose is what keeps me going. This purpose is why I’ll never give up the fight to see the positive. This purpose, and my love for that girl and her Creator.