I will never forget when my wife Sam & I first got the diagnosis that our son Connor was on the middle of the spectrum with Autism. We started hearing all of these startling statistics. They were not statistics concerning kids with special needs, they were percentages based on parents with special needs children. Some said it was 88%, others said it was 83%, a number I heard a lot was 80% of parents with special needs children end in divorce. We were just trying to figure out what this diagnosis meant and now they’re telling us we’re already doomed.
I said to myself, “20%, that’s not good odds for us.” Especially me. I was always the one who feared I was going to get picked last on the playground. I’ve never won any contests except one time when I was caller #19 on love songs on the KOST and I won an “Air Supply” album. My wife is this kind, caring, “rock” in our family and I’m the passionate but far less than perfect male of our brood who has been known to jump on the next vision ride if God moved me while my wife hung on for dear life. I mean if eye rolling burned calories my wife would never have to exercise.
So, if they are only giving us a 20% chance of staying together what does this mean for Sam & I? What I observed with Sam after the diagnosis was that she began to attach herself to our son. Most mother’s are instinctively maternal and Connor became Sam’s mission. It wasn’t even a thought for her….Connor was her cause. For dad’s, many times they connect with their child emotionally. My son even as a young child before things changed would give me a hug or kiss when asked, tell me he loved me, and would look into my eyes and give this awesome smile. All of sudden it all stopped. No more hugs, emotionless. No kisses, no “I love you” and no more eye contact and very few smiles. These things would have to be learned or you would have to catch the moment. Those moments early on were few and far between.
A huge shift had occurred. It seemed I couldn’t connect with my son emotionally, so how do I connect?
I remember dealing with so many emotions wanting so badly to find an answer (as men love to do) to what felt like a loss of some kind in our family. But I realized I couldn’t fix this like other things. I felt helpless and numb for a short time.
Meanwhile, my wife is looking at me thinking “why isn’t he attaching himself to Connor like I am?” I’m thinking, “I just want to connect with my son like we used too.” The enemy loves to come in at crucial times like these to separate what God put together. The enemy wants to pull us apart because he knows WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER. We don’t want conflict when were hurting. We avoid it like we avoid eye contact with the mineral cream salesperson at the mall kiosk before they ask, “Can I ask you something?” We try our best to avoid it, but it doesn’t always work out.
Yet, God in His grace and gentleness spoke into our lives at pivotal times through our devotional time, prayer walks, long talks, and some amazing counsel we received. We realized that we don’t have to have it all figured out, but God will give us just what we need when we need it. We can’t worry about what’s ahead because we don’t have grace for two years from now we have grace for today. I’ve heard it said that sometimes we find our destiny on the road we took to avoid it. As long as we don’t back up but keep moving forward God will show us our destiny. Matthew 18:19 says, I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. It’s been almost 8 years later since the diagnosis. Now Connor is both of our causes. We get hugs, kisses, and lots of “I love you.” I encourage you to stay in agreement, trust God, we will beat the odds because WERE STRONGER TOGETHER then we are apart.
Director of Ministries Lakewood Church