Growing up, my faith was weak. God still used it, what little there was, but I had always wished I could be more bold. Even now, I struggle with coming out of my shell and really speaking up or standing out when I need to. My heart is on fire for Jesus, but putting myself out there is still hard; mostly because I start to feel unworthy and I worry about others’ opinions of me. But, through God’s grace, my daughter is changing all of that…
I’ve learned, through having a sibling with severe Epilepsy and parenting children with Autism, that many look down on those with special needs. Some expect them to fail or see them as less-than. Others pity them or try to justify treating them differently. I can admit that I used to do some of the same things when I was very young, before the special needs community became such a huge part of my world. Before I understood a powerful truth; a truth that my daughter has taught myself and many others, just by being who she is.
In church, towards the beginning of worship, when most people are waiting to be told to stand, I used to wait right along with them. Inside, I wanted to stand up and raise my hands and throw myself into worship with abandon. Outside, I was scared to be different. I didn’t want to stand out. It was a time for worshipping the very God who holds my heart…and I hesitated. All because I was focused on the thoughts or opinions of those around me and not on my love for The One I was there to praise.
My daughter has always had a passion for worship. Her whole being is wrapped up in it and it’s her primary way to connect with a God who created her uniquely and perfectly. Anyone who knows her, knows she is all-in. She worships without a care in the world. It doesn’t matter who’s watching or what others may think. The world around her seems to disappear; one of the many gifts given to her through Autism. She’s intensely invested; all else melts away. The moment the music starts, regardless of what anyone else in church is doing…She is the first to stand. She is the first to raise her hands in worship. She continues to stand and praise Him, even if no one else joins her. In her love for worshipping her Savior, she is courageous.
She’s given me the courage to stand as well. She’s inspired me to push past that hesitation and lose sight of the world around me; seeking only His face. Seeing nothing but His glory. Feeling nothing but love for My Father, Who has been so kind to me…The One who gave me a child who leads. A child who is different. A child who doesn’t need pity. A child who rises above. A child fashioned after The One who made her.
Not all of Autism is beautiful and poetic. It’s hard and it’s painful. But no one will ever convince me that God isn’t working in and through it; that there aren’t incredible gifts weaved throughout. One of those gifts being the inspiration to take a stand, both inside the walls of the church, and outside in my daily life. To fight the good fight. To be courageous. To be more than I ever thought I could be.