Throughout the last few years my heart has continually wrestled how to honestly and respectfully share about special needs mothering. It is a significant part of my stewardship as a parent, but I am not the only one holding a significant role in this authored story. Therefore, this tender place in my heart has me running in circles.
My preference is to understand exactly where the line falls between transparency and protecting the journeys I am entrusted with. Yet, I fall back on my desire to be obedient to the promptings of God to share our family’s story as He leads, so He receives the glory. Obedience over clarity, it shall be.
I desire to share from a place of honesty and honor. Honesty in my struggles and what I am learning by the grace of God. And, honor, in the way I share a story that is not all my own. I do not have it figured out, but this I know: Trust Falling is my new norm, so here we go.
Revelations 12:11 ESV, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Special Needs mothering has generously supplied an abundance of refinement within my soul and ushered me closer to the heart of our Heavenly Father more than any other difficulty I've endured. I discovered the truth of how God sees me and how I see Him by walking this path each day.
When I began taking my first wobbly steps onto this untamed terrain I searched high and low for someone, a little further along in my same journey, who was closely walking with the Lord. Although disappointed by the search engines lack of findings, my desperation opened my eyes to the only Person always with me, Jesus. He never left my side, even in the too messy moments, or in my fierce honesty.
My prayer is the words sewn from this delicate location in my heart offers a sense of respite to the exhausted mother bravely taking on another day of caring for her beloved child. For even when dread and defeat seems easier to sink into, she rises once again empowered by the Love within her. And special needs or not...We are all in this mothering together.
I must clarify from the beginning, my child is NOT the struggle, special needs is the struggle. My child cannot do anything to earn more love and acceptance from me. New skillsets or developmental milestones obtained could not possibly increase my adoration for him because he is MY son and a great joy in my life. More than that He is a child of God and nothing can be added or subtracted from his rightful identity as son.
My absolutely precious, six year old son, Barrett, is on the autism spectrum and functionally nonverbal. He requires 24 hour care and I am his primary caregiver. He must always be holding a hand that won’t let go, so he stays safe, no matter where we are outside of our home. Within our home is his only true safe place. Physically, it is safe with the proper locks and safeguards implemented, and emotionally safe because we, as his parents, understand him the most. In our home, with our family of five, we don’t have to expel energy explaining all the unconventional ways he does or does not do everything. Our home is our respite place. Yet, even in the boundaries of our home we must have a set of eyes on him 100% of the time.
More times than I can count or recall, I have experienced feeling helpless while caring for him. Most recently this emotion surfaced navigating the newly developed aggression, which is common in autism, that surfaced at the beginning of this year. Seeing past aggression, there is a little boy who finally has a will to communicate. This is the goodness of God in the midst of anguish. Recognizing the enlightenment of his will is light during the dark times. The pain point causing him exceptional distress is not having a way to communicate with me.
One time in particular, I offered him everything I could think of in hopes to calm his heart. I searched the house for any favorite toys that might have gone missing (we should have created an inventory system by now), Face-timed Daddy (his favorite person), pointed to every body part asking if he was hurting, and went through his entire picture exchange communication system. Nothing. Nothing was working. I wasn't even sure to what extent he understood my attempts to communicate. And in his suffering, he kept pushing me away, or taking his aggression out on me. Each of my attempts to help, aggravated him even more.
When Barrett denies me the opportunity to help him, care for him, and comfort him, I am grieved. As his mother, I want to make him feel better. I desire to bandage his wounded heart, take away the pain, and calm his fears. I long for Barrett to fall into my arms and allow me the opportunity to soothe his heart. I yearn to hear him speak to me about how he is feeling, why he is upset, and everything in between.
When we verbally process our emotions, in a safe place, this way of unburdening our soul creates a pathway for healing, and I deeply desire for Barrett to receive that gift.
After restraining him and bandaging our injuries, I sat down on the kitchen floor with Jesus. Sharing my grief with Him, He reminded me of a season when I responded to Him as Barrett responds to me. A time when I was frustrated at God for not understanding what I desperately explained over and over again to Him. Because if He did, surely He would have fixed my problems by now. A time where I pushed Him away, like Barrett does to me, no matter how many times He offered to help me. God would approach me in gentleness and love, but I refused to receive His comfort because He refused to do things my way.
He kept tenderly speaking to me, “Lauren, if you repent, I promise to heal you and your family.”
I was scared if I accepted His invitation, it would be a manipulative requiring me to perform some “good works” or an “act of faith” I would not want to do, nor had the strength for. God allowed me to hit the breaking point I had to encounter, so I would cry out to Him. I finally offered my mustard seed of faith and learned the power of grace.
I found a Father who did not require performance, but One who values my heart and relationship with Him. A Father who desired to hold me in my brokenness and was not afraid of my honesty. He offered me His hand to hold, so He could ease the pain and reveal the Safe Place I have in Him. He longed to hear my voice, listen to my cries and pleas, and be the Truth and Hope I made my home. He desired to grieve with me in my brokenness, so I was not alone.
Through intentional discipline I've developed the response of running to the One who holds my vulnerability safely in His loving hands and is my only Secure Shelter. I shout quickly in my distress, “Father! Father! I am hurting and need your rescue!” Oh, the lovely place in Him that no one can take away and nothing in this world can rob us from. His presence is the unshakeable perfection of Peace.
I learned pain holds a soul hostage until its power is broken by the confession of vulnerable words in His presence. Pain is real and valid. And, so is our Healer.
There is an abundant life waiting in Him. It satisfies more than any quick fix the world offers. Distractions or medicating pain through the things of the world will only last so long. I know this because I have been rescued from that soul-stealing cycle. In our Father God we exchange a heavy burden for a light and free way of living.
Jesus tells us in John 10:9-10 ESV,
“ I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Standing back up in the kitchen, the Holy Spirit enlightened me to the trigger of Barrett’s distress the past four days. I ran to Barrett showing him a picture on my phone of a broken toy that was thrown away the week prior. As soon as I asked him, “Is this what you have been looking for and upset you?” his countenance relaxed and he smirked. I wanted to do a wild holy dance in that moment. “Mommy will order this for you right now!” I declared. Suddenly I heard two of the most beautiful words. In a faint hush Barrett said, "I want."
I didn’t hold against Barrett how he treated me when he was in pain. I restored the broken and lost desire he had because I love him. I have mercy on him because I know his limits. And God has unfathomable mercy on us. He knows we are humans, made from the dust of the earth, living in a broken world. He understands we reside in the space between the original garden of perfection and waiting for His ultimate rescue. He knows the longings of our soul can only be fulfilled in Him. He doesn’t hold against us our past, sins, limits, or the way we have treated or ignored Him.
Instead, He runs to us.
He is the God of the Come-Back.
He restores. He gives good gifts. He lives up to His promises.
We can trust Him. He is a place of forgiveness, gentleness, and love. He not only rescues from torment, He heals hearts, and teaches an abundant way of life. He restores losses, holding nothing against us, because of His great love and desire for us to flourish for His glory.
As a parent, I desire for my children to thrive in the life they have been given. The truth is this springs up from sowing them into the True Foundation of Jesus. Once the foundation has been established, seeds of life are sewn into the soil, and in due time a vibrant garden blossoms and flourishes. This is the life we are offered through Jesus.
Recently in a conversation with a friend I learned birds are experts at hiding their injuries. In the wild they would become easy targets if they showed weakness. This disguise of false strength prevents them from being rescued and receiving the care needed to survive. Even when offered safe medical care a bird refuses to let their guard down and continues to act healthy because of their innate desire to be their own protector.
This is precisely the lie the enemy detains us in bondage with — “You can handle it and fix it on your own."
My Friend, we aren’t powerful enough to rescue our own soul, time does not heal pain, neither does happiness from any other source than our Father. Distractions only ease the pain for a brief moment. We can be freed from limping through life and run in grace saturated freedom instead.
My prayer for every precious heart parked at this place of the internet is this…
May you open the wings of your heart allowing the Great Physician entry to the wounds you have expertly learned to hide. May you let down your guard in the safe presence of your Friend, Jesus, offering your honest words to Him. Surrendering your ways, may Truth sink deep into your injured soul cultivating a new nesting place. May you develop a trust in God as He gently removes the residue preventing a life of wholeness. May what has been stolen or abruptly lost in your life be overcome and restored by your Father. Not because you are good enough. Not because your performance exceeds expectations. Because you are His Daughter and His love for you runs deep and wide. He is the God of YOUR COMEBACK. May His grace be the new beat for your feet. And, may you speak of His glory, power, and wonder in your life forever and ever. Amen.
You. Yes, You, are the God of the Come-Back, and I am HERE for it.
Love from my heart to yours,