The 40 year journey

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Moses probably has as much name recognition as Taylor Swift, across all continents and varying demographics.  That’s where the similarity ends.  He does not command her stratospheric popularity, fortune, and beauty, though some 3,000 years after his death movies are still made about his life.  The story of Moses’ life saved my life.  The drama, forces of good versus evil, fight for liberty all make for box office movie material.  But it is the one about God’s resounding goodness and greatness that speaks to me deeply.

It is hard to think about God’s goodness when raising a child on the autism spectrum.  It seems like an unrelenting journey, and as a parent, I am terrified that the window is closing in as he is nearing adulthood yet not nearly as independent as he should be.

My faith certainly offered some comfort, though intermittently, it didn’t offer answers so I stopped asking the questions. And at some point, I stopped praying as it seemed pointless.  Because all experts and medical professionals will tell you there is no cure for autism.  And God seems to agree with them.

It wasn’t until I studied the life of Moses in the Old Testament that I found hope, relief and yes, yes, yes, answers!  These are not the same as “answered prayers” – the way I had prayed for things to turn out.  I don’t care what popular culture has to say about religion or authenticity of the story.  I found hope and answers where no worldly doctors, (we went to psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians) therapists, psychologists (we tried psychotherapy, cognitive therapy) or gurus could offer. And it is my blog, so I get to say anything I want.

When the Jews fled Egypt, the most direct route from Egypt to Canaan (God’s Promised Land) was along the coast, along what is today called the Gaza strip.  It could have taken days or weeks, but God led the Hebrews a long way that took them 40 years after they had already spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt.  That is somewhat more than a generation, there must have been many who never saw freedom, who lived their whole lives as slaves, wandering what happened to God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. My first lesson is that God is taking me on a 40 year journey.  I am one of the Jews, and like them, God is using our hardships to work powerfully on our behalf.

It is estimated that there were 2 million people including women and children who left Egypt.  It was a terrible, difficult journey, way larger than the Donner party. We are talking a whole race of people and their livestock.  There was no humanitarian aid and human rights group advocating for them when they were pursued and slaughtered by enemies.  It was an exodus of a nation, on a scale unmatched by anything we are seeing today. They were counting on Moses, whose faith was being tested, as much as that of the people he led.  Yet on EVERY occasion God provided, He heard Moses’ prayers and his people’s desperate cries.  At Marah, where the water was bitter and undrinkable, God gave a decree: “if you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes…I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians for I am (Yahweh-Ropheka), the Lord, who heals you.” He made bitter waters sweet, he led them to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees.  It reminds me that even when I seem to be “in the desert,” God provides green pastures and sweet relief.  He wipes away the tears from my eyes.  The lesson for me is that the burden of my life’s journey is not on me, but on God.

I need to stop thinking about my destination, but live and trust daily.  My life has not gone as planned.  It doesn’t mean there is no plan.  Raising Jack is my 40 year journey, adventure – and God’s plan.

Follow me as I figure out what God’s doing with our lives —

 

Footnote: some information taken from Bible Study Fellowship notes

 

Kate M

Reformed Corporate Workhorse. Reuser / Recycler. Blogger. Reader. Singapore Girl. San Diego Mom. Believer.

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Taming the Worry Monster

frightened-childIt was my son’s psychotherapist who first identified Anxiety as Jack’s biggest problem when he was in second grade.  He disagreed with the teachers that Jack was ADHD, explaining that one of the reasons he couldn’t focus in school and was acting out when the smallest, seemingly inconsequential thing went wrong was that he is constantly living on the edge, his mind filled with fear.

 

In Kindergarten we should’ve seen the early signs when he was afraid to get up from the automated flush toilet because the noise frightened him.  In first grade, he was punished for constantly munching on some cereal which he would hide in his pockets, (we later learned that the munching was for self soothing), he had to be forewarned about fire drills and put on his noise cancelling head phones.  At birthday parties at Chuck e Cheese, my boy was crawling under the table screaming when Chuck E came around and sang happy birthday.  It was embarassing and worrying for us that my little boy was crying when other kids were having fun… His life was a constant, unrelenting stream of problems all linked to his anxiety which we didn’t understand at that time.  He travelled everywhere with his security “blanket”- the Star Wars and GI Joe figures were cute, and quite normal, but these were replaced by a spatula which he carried everywhere, even on 20 hour flights to Asia where it (literally) never left his side.  God forbid he were to lose that spatula, so that humble spatula became as important as our passports, safeguarded by two very vigilant adults.

I first read this article a year ago, written by an adult with autism.  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/worrier-warrior/201404/first-person-perspective-anxiety-and-autism

Dr Catherine Alvarez is a mathematician, and founder of Math Wizard, student of psychology, blogger, and homeschooling mom of two great kids.  She discusses anxiety in Autism, where she explains that anxiety can be consuming and handicapping, preventing a person from learning or even trying.  Before all else, comes the Acceptance.  I wished someone had told me this twelve years ago, as there was too much pain, heartbreak and judgement that could have been avoided.  

“It’s so important to deal with anxiety before trying to address other issues or expect someone to respond to teaching.”
 
Look beyond the child’s behaviors which often seem irrational, embarassing, inexplicable, socially unacceptable, and remember that you have a frightened child, unable to explain what is troubling him.  You can’t cajole or punish away his anxieties, but you can work with him to tame those worry monsters, slowly, one at a time.  You won’t be  able to tame all of them, but every tiny little monster you can tame brings them a little bit of comfort and safety, which then frees them to learn.
 

Kate M

Reformed Corporate Workhorse. Reuser / Recycler. Blogger. Reader. Singapore Girl. San Diego Mom. Believer.

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