In the Anderson household three things tell us spring has sprung: sticky floors (from making maple syrup); muddy boots and paw trails from thawing snow; and anxiety storms erupting from the transition of school to summer.
Whether its constantly cleaning spring-time floors or managing transition meltdowns, life isn’t easy and is usually full of errors (I submit exhibit A: the two pots with burned syrup I didn’t catch in time last week). But God is not about to leave us in our messes as long as we let Him take us by the hand, steady us to stand, and open our eyes to see where, even in the mess, He can provide love to calm us and get us through.
This weekend, it was my daughter (not the one with Asperger’s) who had the transition-based, end-of-school-year meltdown. It was the perfect storm of disasters—a lost file she had labored for 15 hours to create for her digital art project, an 7-page AP English paper assignment she didn’t understand, and news of a friend’s attempted suicide.
When my Sunday nap was abruptly interrupted by her tearful cries, two things were immediately apparent: there was no way I was going to finish my nap and, even after 16 years, my child’s cries can still flood my heart with pain, just as readily as when she was a newborn.
I ached to help her. But as she poured out her frustration and fears, it was her oldest brother with ASD who came to the rescue. He has an emotional barometer highly tuned to the pain of others and we have learned over the years to be careful what we say and how we express ourselves around him to avoid overwhelming him with our own emotional baggage.
This time, he caught the anguish of his sister. Hearing the tragic story of her friend who has been bullied to the point of self-harm, he boiled over in anger and loudly pronounced he would become a lawyer to defend Sarah’s friend against those who had driven her to such desperation.
This older brother (the one she has often wished were like other brothers she could lean on), this brother was coming to her rescue and demonstrating, just as surely as any older brother could, what it means to love. It steadied her heart to see how much he cared.
By the time we convinced him that passing the bar exam would not be necessary, Sarah, seeing her brother’s compassion, had calmed down enough to think more clearly to attack her problems. Love lifted some of the weight she had carried alone. Ironically, it is through this blessing of need and helplessness we sometimes experience as a special needs family, we are most transformed. God changes us, not necessarily by “fixing” every problem (as we assume things must be fixed), but by His love poured out to us, and through us, toward others.
Whether it is calming the meltdown, scrubbing the scalded pot we forgot to watch or wiping up muddy paws day after day, it is often in the messes of our lives God is most able to assure us there is more to life than fixing things. There is love. There are relationships. There are people who matter more than projects or deadlines or tidy houses. When so many things compete for our attention, it must always be people that win top priority, and the realization that it is God, ultimately, who can show us how much more we can rely on him than ourselves.
Q: How has the love of another brought healing even when fixing your problem wasn’t possible?
Kelli Ra Anderson, author, Divine Duct Tape, a devotional for those in the messiness of life and, soon to be released, Life on the Spectrum, a devotional for parents of children on the spectrum.
Latest posts by Kelli Ra Anderson (see all)
- Calming our Anxiety in Special Needs Parenting - August 24, 2015
- Victory in the Seeming Loss of Special Needs Advocacy - June 22, 2015
- Retreating in God’s Hands: respite for the special needs parent - May 25, 2015