May 18, 2016

Through Years of Tears I Have Come

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth--
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3
My oldest son turns 13 tomorrow, making him an official teenager, evidenced not only by the calendar but by his deepening voice. The planned celebration of this child has now expanded across three days, first with our family, then a getaway with his dad and treasured men in his life to learn how to be a godly man, and then, finally, with his friends.

Friends. Did you just run your eyes quickly over that word? I didn't. When I typed it and read it back to myself, my heart stopped there to marvel, the tears pooling in the corner of my eyes.

Ten years ago I was crying different tears over this boy. They were bitter, desperate, pleading tears that soaked and salted my entire life. Like a broken faucet, I couldn't restrain their constant dripping. I cried throughout worship at church, unable to sing the words and mean them. I cried while driving the car with my son in the backseat and another in my womb. I cried in my bed, clinging to my husband, broken at the sight of his tears mirroring my own. Always, I cried after interacting with other people's children whose affront to me was simply being typical, everyday kids who were hitting all their milestones.
At night, after my little boy had fallen asleep, I'd slip into his room, kneel beside his bed, stroke his hair back, and beg God to heal him. The tears that came then were guttural and desperate. I'd imagine what that healing might look like and pray specifically for those things: the ability to form sentences and communicate his needs, answer simple questions, and write his name one day. Can you do this God? It seems hopeless, impossible. The list went on anyway: an interest in others, no more echoing, basic self-help skills, some sort of emotional connection with me and with his dad, an understanding of God and the gospel, the capability to one day live on his own.

And a friend. Lord, let him one day have a friend. 

The first 8-10 years of his life were the hardest years of mine. I prayed myself through years of tears, the bitter ones finally turning to resolve. I prayed hard, but I also worked hard, because nothing came easy and everything--everything--had to be taught. I charged at autism with the fierceness and conviction of a mama bear with her cub.

I have fought for him in every way I've known how, yet all along aware of my powerlessness to change him, all along begging God to help him and heal him.

And God has done it.

I used to think of healing as always instantaneous and complete. That is not the healing God has done for my son. Instead, He has healed him and continues to heal him over time in small, supernatural ways:

Two words strung together.
Writing his name.
Answering "wh" questions: what? where? who?
Tying shoes.
Looking at others in the eye.
Doing school work they said he could never do.
Showing empathy and compassion.
Understanding humor and inferences.
And making friends. 

God has helped and healed not only my son but also my own heart. I used to think I was so in control, that I could shape my life according to my own desires and dreams. I used to have little compassion for the hurting or the outcast. I used to believe that God would give me my definition of good things based upon my good behavior. I used to place my hope in perishable, self-centered idols.

Now I know He is sovereign, He is near to the brokenhearted, He is my hope, and that He gives His definition of good things from His grace alone. His definition of good things, I've learned, is so much better than mine, even though it's been the gift of joy borne from suffering.

Because we moved to a new city when my son was five, no one outside of our family has seen the full scope of what God has done. So let me tell you what He has done: He has never left me. He has wiped away my despairing tears and given me a tender heart. He has listened to my cry and answered me. He has held and helped my son every step of the way. He has received my lamentation and put a new song in my mouth--

Praise to our God.

Won't you see my son's story and trust Him today?
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His discipled asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him." John 9:1-3