FIRST-PERSON: A diagnosis & a calling
EDITOR'S NOTE: April is National Autism Awareness Month.
CHURCH HILL, Tenn. -- The first time I became a mother, I was keenly aware of an inadequate feeling I had after my first son's birth.
Growing up, I was a younger sister to two older brothers that I adored. I played the baby sister role with precision. Even though my mother considered me an independent child, I always felt the need for someone to lead the way. My actions may have reflected my mom's viewpoint, but in my own heart I was exhaustingly timid.
Because I was never in a position to have to care for someone below me, I somehow assumed it would never be God's plan for me to have children.
But there is a popular saying that God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.
In my case of motherhood, I can confirm that this is true. Something that can only be explained as a supernatural intervention became my mentor.
God became my counselor as I navigated caring for my child.
Surprisingly, even though I had no previous experience, I began to feel a miraculous peace that could only be explained by the Scripture recorded in Philippians 4:7: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Before then, I had never been fully confident of anything that I had set out to accomplish. In fact, I could have been known more for my inability because of my painful lack of confidence.
But for the first time in my life, I felt like I had a purpose and God had placed a calling on my life where He was the only one who could get glory for what was His will.
Five years later, God gave us our second son to further prove Himself as Lord of my life. Soon, I would discover that the perfect gift that was given with my first son would be doubled. Not only in the life of my youngest son, but in the revealing of an autism diagnosis.
When we found out he has autism, initially we had a long list of questions. There were so many unknowns in our new special needs world. We felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of everything that we had to learn just to be able to scratch the surface of understanding our son's needs.
Thankfully, God had been preparing my heart early on. I had determined there were some things that were different in him, and I had been led to several autism-related online videos and articles. Even though I had so many challenges to overcome because I had zero knowledge about autism, the same God-given determination that I had with my oldest son took over once again.
God's strength was being made perfect in my utter lack of anything related to being a mom and a caregiver. I was being made into His likeness as I learned to lean on Him through every new therapy appointment, meltdown and fear. I was not functioning in my own power but through the eternal gift of the Holy Spirit.
Now, three years after receiving our son's autism diagnosis, I am still learning to surrender each day to the Lord, knowing as James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, ...."
A special needs family's journey can be a spiritual one when we learn to exercise our faith in the midst of the uncertainty and depend on God for our every need -- even if we don't yet know what it is.