Psychologists will tell you that there are five basic stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What I didn’t realize prior to two years ago, is that grief is not a linear process. You don’t graduate from each step, receive your diploma and move on. In fact, in my earliest days as a spectrum parent, I could experience all of these stages multiple times in a single day, and in no particular order. My emotions would bounce about frantically like a ping pong ball on speed. Depressions could be triggered by the most seemingly insignificant things, or by nothing at all. I could go from hopeful to despairing in a moment. I still can.
It has gotten better. I learned in the dark days to remind myself that the hopeful days would come again. I also learned in the hopeful days to expect that there would still be dark days ahead, so that I wouldn’t be so taken off guard. I learned that a certain degree of wishful thinking is necessary, so on my hopeful days I picture myself attending his college graduation or sitting in the front row at his baptism. I think about dancing with him at his wedding or holding his babies in my arms. Perhaps all of these things will happen. Perhaps none. I’m sure I’ll be okay with it when the time comes, as long as Luke is happy.
Eventually, the grieving slowed down. There are now many more hopeful days than dark ones. The dark days are not quite so dark, and they don’t last quite so long. Nowadays, I can put on a brave face and go about my day, with few people privy to the turmoil brewing just below the surface. I wait until the children are tucked into their beds, and the duties of the day are complete, and then I allow myself to tend to my hurting heart.
In case you haven’t guessed yet, today is a dark day.
I decided to process things a little differently this time, though. My usual modus operandi would be to withdrawal – to stop writing – and to retreat into my safe place until the storm had passed; however, since my planned topic today is “Learning to Have Faith in the Why Me Moments” it seems fitting to write it on a day that I am very tempted to ask, “Why me?” “Why Luke?”
Then again, “Why not me?”
If I am truly honest with myself I can see how God might consider me a particularly qualified candidate to be a spectrum parent. Certain character “qualities” (aka “flaws”) have served Luke well, and been a source for God to teach and mold me into a better person. My tenacity, determination and discernment (aka “my stubbornness, impatience and pride”) helped Luke to reach an early diagnosis, and helped me research therapies and figure out how to afford them.
Meanwhile the Lord has tempered my grit (aka “controlling behavior”) with humility. What better way to break a control-freak than by confronting her with a situation that offers zero guarantees? After months of tirelessly, desperately and obsessively trying to answer questions that had no answers, I accepted my fate. God wanted me to walk through this one by faith, not by manipulation.
We also have an amazing support system of people who love Luke and cherish him for exactly who he is. I have to admit, if I were an autistic child, I would have picked us, too.
I have run into a lot of people who seem to believe that it’s because of sin. Something I did. Something Nick did. Even something Luke did. I certainly believe that God punishes sin, but I haven’t found a single instance in Scripture in which someone was being punished, but had no idea what the punishment was for. God gave warnings, details, and second chances, so when the punishment came, no one was asking “Why me?”
Instead I did find the verse above, and many other accounts of people who suffered greatly, that “the works of God might be displayed.” Each event had one common thread – a miracle. The man born blind would never have been healed if he hadn’t been blind in the first place. Lazarus could not have been raised from the dead if he hadn’t died to begin with. The suffering and grief were a necessary part of the miracle, and while I don’t know what form it will take, I believe that Luke, and all uniquely designed children are miracles in the making.
Why me? So that the works of God might be displayed.