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Tomorrow is the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event that will take place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. This will be the 5th year our family has participated in this event. I’m excited to see that the weather should be in the 60’s, sunny and mild. In some previous years, it has been frigid and blustery and we had to don at least 4 layers to keep warm. This year, a light jacket and maybe a scarf should do it!

Autism because an official part of our lives on December 20, 2007, though it really entered when Sam was born on August 29, 2005. We just didn’t know it yet. It’s been quite a journey, and while I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t change anything, I can say that I’ve discovered just how strong a mother’s love can be. I’ve discovered the supernatural strength and grace that somehow got me through the horror of watching my son bang his head repeatedly against the floor, the ear piercing screams that were the only form of communication for the first two years, and the terrifying steps forward to go to an evaluation.

I’ve learned that in the face of seeming tragedy, beauty exists in the marrow. Despite the incredible challenges autism affords my sweet son, I believe that he was created just the way he is – with autism – for a grand purpose. While our family exists outside the gates of “normal”, we don’t exist any less because of autism. Samuel is no less of a person or a beloved child of God because of autism. As the saying goes, “Different, not less.”

I believe in the incredible worth of all of my children, and Samuel is no exception. While I may have never questioned my abilities as a mother more than when I am faced with decisions in dealing with behaviors stemming from the challenges of autism, I don’t believe I’ve ever been more confident in the love I have for Samuel, Benjamin, and Joshua, and any other child the Lord sees fit to give us. It’s easy to love when I am not challenged. When my faith is not being tested. In the last eight years, I have been challenged more as a mother than I ever thought possible. My faith has been tested more than I thought it could bear and still live.

Through every frustration, every challenge, every discouragement, hope has shone through. For every moment I was bestowed a patience and compassion that was not my own, hope was living through Christ who strengthens me.  Autism has presented unexpected difficulties, tried my patience to the breaking point and challenged my faith. Through every step, I have learned to see Samuel for who he is as my son living with autism. I can see little glimpses of the ultimate renewal Christ will bring one day in the tiniest victory in Sam’s life to large triumphs every day. I am loving and delighting in my son in the grace of God in ways I never thought possible six years ago.

This is why I walk.

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