Dear Autism Daddy,
First, let me say that I have been a fan of your blog for a very long time. I’ve found the information you’ve offered very helpful and your personal experiences very relatable and refreshing. It’s wonderful and validating to hear someone who will articulate the things that you experience when other people won’t because they are ashamed to feel that way, or scared of the backlash. Yes, it is safe to say that you and your wife inspire me with your bravery and candidness.
But a while back, I came across “The Autism Daddy Religious Manifesto.” As you may have noticed, my blog is dedicated to the inherent blessings or “gifts” of autism, so this post threatened to undermine my entire existence. Not really. 🙂
But it did make me want to write to you.
The first thing I wanted to tell you is that you’re right. The idea that “God never gives us more than we can handle” is a load of you-know-what. People of faith often quote that in times of trial as if it’s in the Bible, but it’s not. The narrative of the Bible is that God most definitely does give people more than they can handle, because it is in our weakness that His strength is made known – it’s when we come to the end of ourselves that we seek Him, and it’s therein that we can find the gifts that autism gives us.
That’s where we are blessed. Blessed by not taking things for granted, by having clearer focus on the things of this life that truly matter, by seeing up close a grace and generosity that restores your faith in humanity, and by developing a new perspective of the world that allows you to see things through a lens of sensitivity. Gifts of character and compassion – and those are all very good gifts.
I know what you’re thinking. You’d gladly give those gifts up for King Kyle to have a normal life – for him to grow up and have a job and a family and a mortgage. I’ll be honest. Me too. But these are the gifts we’ve been given, and they are valuable beyond measure, whether or not they are the ones we would have chosen for ourselves.
You also mentioned that Kyle is a gift, but autism is not. I have to admit that I can’t separate the two. Once upon a time I could. Back when Luke was two and he had just regressed into the boy I know and love today, I saw Luke and his autism as two separate entities, but I don’t anymore. Back then I was mourning the child I thought I would have and trying to reconcile it with the child that God had actually given me. But now I’ve realized that autism is inextricably a part of Luke.
If tomorrow I were to wake up, and Luke’s autism was completely gone, and he were miraculously healed, I’m sure I would rejoice, but then I wonder if as days and weeks went on I wouldn’t start to miss the child that I have loved and nurtured for the past seven years. Would it be bittersweet? Would I weep for that child just as I wept for the child I believed him to be the day he was born? I think I would. Because Luke without autism, just like Kyle without autism, is a completely different person than the one I have loved everyday until now.
I also wonder if Luke would be happier. For all of his tantrums and quirkiness, I have to say that I think Luke is very content in life. There are many things I want for him. I typically call it the “easier” life that comes with being “normal,” but it dawned on me the other day that I don’t know very many normal people that consider their lives easy. So, maybe normal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I also agree that I can’t fathom why God chose to give my boy a disability, but there are a great many things that I can’t fathom about God. I can’t fathom a being that is infinite, and who has complete control over all things. My pastor, Tom, recently gave an analogy in one of his sermons that summed it up in a way that was particularly personal to me. He likened each life to a puzzle piece in a grand picture that God is painting. A single puzzle piece may look like a mess of utter nonsense, until it is seen in the bigger picture. I have to believe that one day, when I reach Heaven, I will see how Luke’s piece fit, and agree with God that it was good and beautiful.
Autism Daddy, my faith does help me cope with the day to day trials I face with my sweet, silent boy. It helps me cope because it tells me that a day is coming when Luke will no longer struggle – when he will speak and his mind will be whole. If someone told you, with 100% certainty, that one day King Kyle would do and be everything you ever dreamed and even more, would it matter to you if you needed to wrestle with autism for a few decades more? No. You would do so and you would do so joyfully, because healing and victory were certain. That is what my faith gives me. I am assured that one day and for all eternity Luke and I will be together and that he will be perfectly healthy, happy and whole.
This is what I wish for you, the King, and your wife as well. I’m praying for you, my fellow comrade in the trenches of autism. Hang in there.