Ten years ago, our family experienced a sudden shift in our life journey that no one saw coming. Our son became autistic. There were subtle warning signs starting when he was about 15 months old, but nothing jarring that really made us question his development. That’s for another post. But, the fact of the matter is, at age 3 1/2 our only son swirled into autism and our life was changed.
I tend to gravitate towards challenges and I always like to be great at everything I do (or I won’t even attempt it- its a flaw of mine!) and once we had our official diagnosis, I was determined to beat it. My son would be cured come hell or high water. We would be one of those success stories. Besides, having a less-than-perfect son was NOT in my life plan!
I jumped into exploring autism with everything I had. I read and I researched. I left no stone, no diet, no supplement, nothing unturned. We found a bio-medical doctor four hours away. After a battery of tests, it was determined that he was deficient in a bazillion different vitamins and minerals and he was intolerant to a bazillion different foods. I ate, drank, breathed and slept autism (I seriously literally dreamed about all the diet and supplements he was on!). At my ten year high school class reunion, I told everyone that I fully expected him to be cured by the next reunion. I wasn’t gonna be one of those parents that just let it all go, come what may. No, by golly, we were gonna beat this thing!!!
Over time, something happened. Or rather didn’t happen. Our son wasn’t getting better. We begged and pleaded with God. I said the same prayer every day, “Lord, please heal him.” I was doing everything I was supposed to do! We were on the right diet and were giving him the right supplements. But, he wasn’t healed. Oh, we’d have our steps forward, but we had just as many backward. I kept thinking that there was something else out there, that if we just found the last piece of the puzzle, that it would all be better and we’d have our “normal” son back. I had our book written in my head. You know, the one with our family’s picture on the cover where I tell all about our journey and how we healed our son.
But, about 3 years ago, I finally realized it- we weren’t going to be that miracle family. It just wasn’t going to be us. Our son would always have “special needs.” God wasn’t going to grant me my miracle. After seven years of desperately trying and hoping for that bolt of lightning, I stopped.
Our story doesn’t end there. I didn’t spiral into depression and I didn’t quit loving our son. I didn’t stop praising God or question His sovereignty over my life. Instead, I looked back on our journey and thought about the what-ifs in a different way. What if he was normal? What would our life be like? Would we be a happier family? Would Jeff and I have a stronger marriage?
You know what? When I changed my perspective (or perhaps God has changed it for me, slowly working on my over the years), I saw different answers to those questions. My son and his quirks have made me a better person. They have given us a stronger marriage. They have made his sisters more compassionate kids. They’ve shown me traits (both good and bad) in other people that I didn’t know were there. Where once autism was the enemy to fight, the one bad thing in a really good life, I have found that autism hasn’t been the enemy. A cure for it is not the miracle I needed. God knew all along that for me to grow in my faith, for Jeff and I to become an extremely tight partnership, for my girls to be able to see people in a better light, for our family to be healthier and stronger, He would have to give us something to make that happen. He chose autism for us.
While I still have hopes for our son to live a “normal” life, I also don’t worry as much about the future with him. God has seen us through all the time. He knows what we need and He knows what our son needs. Who am I to question that? That is the real miracle.