(Instead of my usual random essay about life in general- I am beginning a series of letters to a younger version of me. I do not claim to have all of the answers or to have landed on some really good insider knowledge- but rather hope that these will come across the screens of people who are like me- wanting to hold on to their faith when their world is upside down and sideways of what they expected- and the only thing they are sure of is that they love God and are in need of Him and His help every day.)
Dear Younger Me-
I look back at you with the lens of hindsight and I want to tell you- God is faithful.
You who are sitting there naively taking in the first IEP meeting for your three year old who has been pronounced autistic, being told by experts that they can fix this. They are confident that with a simple addition of structured routine, they will accomplish what you can’t. You have tried so hard to teach your wiggly little boy to color instead of try to eat the crayons. You have tried so hard to coax words from his mouth, and are so keenly aware of how frustrated it makes him who can so beautifully reaches out to your heart with his eyes and his smile, but can’t shape words the way he wants to.
You who can’t help but hear accusation in their words, even when that is the farthest thing from their minds, because you feel that somehow you have failed your child- take heart. Just as you are blameless before God because of the work of the cross, you are blameless in this. You live in a broken world, and you will learn that you are far from the only mom facing this monster word autism as time goes on. But right now you need to know that God didn’t do this to you, but that the world he was born into did this.
Right now you are numb. You are not yet feeling the sting of the word because you are so very trusting. You believe that what they are telling you is right. You are willing to sacrifice your confidence in your ability as a mom so that you can make this whole thing make sense. I wish you hadn’t. In time you will get some of that courage back, but right now I am watching you let it seep away- trusting the words of men and women who are experts because they have gone to school and worked with other kids, but you are the expert on your son. The skepticism you are squelching to maintain your composure as they tell you that with in six months he will be just slightly behind his typical peers because they can offer structure to him will echo again in your heart when you meet with them and see them guessing just as much as you are. I wish you weren’t in awe of their education and degrees, because you nod silently and say yeses when your heart screams no-
Numbness will carry you for a little while, and for now you are not lying when people ask you if you are okay- the grief will come later and I will write again about that pain later.
Right now though, you need to know that the connection you made with God when you felt isolated and alone and bleeding heart broken while sitting in youth group when you were sixteen and seventeen will serve you. Right now you aren’t so sure maybe. Right now you aren’t sure where to go to church, but are really sure things will get better if you could go. You aren’t ready for what will come of that hope now, but I will say, keep pressing in to God.
Dear heart, you will make it, and as I keep moving forward I too will keep making it, not because of the footprints in the sand that everyone is so agog about, but because when you fall flat on your face running your race, your Heavenly Father will always be there to help you stand back up and support your shattered steps as you keep moving forward in this race. You don’t yet know how long this road will be, but you are right to keep trusting in God. There is no other hope that will help you stand – and you are going to have to stand.
Love and courage-
Your future self.