Finding The Strength to Embrace the Life You Have
“This is autism,” the clinician told me about my three-year-old son after a three hour-long test. I stared at the piece of paper she placed in front of me on the wooden table and nodded.
I knew it. It confirmed our suspicions. But seeing the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder” written in bold with my son’s full name on top of that paper felt like a swift punch in my gut.
The clinician shared a few resources with me and then I took my son home, my mind whirling. When we got home, I kissed his plump little cheeks, smiled into those gorgeous blue eyes, and ran my fingers through his baby-soft hobbit-like curls. I ruffled my older son’s curls as well and kissed his cheek and then left them on the couch to watch a movie while I escaped to the master bedroom. I lay down on my bed, wrapped the welcoming comforter around me, snuggled down into my newly made nest of woe and cried.
My older son had several diagnoses and our life already revolved around speech and occupational therapies for both of my sons. I had operated under the belief that a few months or years of therapies and all would be well, that they’d be able to catch up to their peers.
But this newest diagnosis shattered all the daydreams of motherhood I’d ever had.
I no longer officially had one child with special needs, but two. I felt cheated and anxious and heartbroken.
I was already exhausted from the never-ending therapies and from praying for so many things and having God not answer any of my most desperate prayers. I was discouraged and angry, feeling like God was silent and far away when I needed Him the most. I found myself doubting God’s goodness, or if He even existed, and this new crisis of faith terrified me.
It was in the midst of this grief, so desperate for God to show up in my life, that I finally experienced Him whisper one word to my anxious and grieving heart that would change everything for me.
Surely that word was from God. What was there to embrace in my life with all the hard stuff I was experiencing?
So I asked Him. And for the next hour or so, God revealed area after area of my life that I needed to embrace. I wish I had written it all down at the time, but I don’t think my pen would have flown across the pages fast enough. I was convicted. Encouraged. Loved by the God of the universe.
He would gently remind me of something I needed to embrace fully in my life. Something that I needed to not only accept, but cherish.
My role as a mother. My husband and the fact we were teammates together. My children. Their progress. Their personalities. Their hearts. This special-needs journey. Myself. And most importantly, God. My perspective was transformed to the biblical, rather than the worldly way of doing things that I’d been trying to do unsuccessfully for years.
I don’t know how long I spent with God, tears rolling down my cheeks, anxious thoughts stilling, surrender and transformation unfolding in my heart. An hour or two at least, and it transformed my life, my faith, and my purpose. It gave me the strength to continue forward on the path God set for me and my children, trusting that God was faithful and had given all of us a life worth embracing.
It wasn’t until a few months after that encounter with God, while on my journey of discovering and experiencing what it meant to embrace life, that I found a quote by John Piper that summarized eloquently what I had learned and experienced:
“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped for. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
Jenn Soehnlin is a mother to two boys who are precious blessings and who both have special needs. She loves spending time with her family, curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee, enjoying a walk through nature, and writing. She writes about faith, praying Scripture, special needs parenting, and more at www.embracing.life, and on Facebook and Instagram.
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