The other day my 15 yr old son Nathan told me that when he finally gets a job, he is going to save his money and take me out to dinner to Ruth Chris Steak House. “How much money will I need mom? I will take you to a fancy dinner…just you and me.”
Yep, that’s my son Nathan. This proclamation of his got my mama tears immediately rolling. You see, there was a time I never dreamed that such a thought or reality could be possible.
At just under 2 yrs old, Nathan was diagnosed with classic autism with possible mental retardation. He seemed lost in his own little world and I felt helpless to really know who he was. I determined early on that I would pray for a miracle. My miracle was straightforward and unwavering; I asked that any signs or symptoms of autism be completely gone and erased from his life. If the Lord God granted me one request in the world, it would have been that. That was my plea for days, months, and even years. I only saw a future robbed of possibilities and hope while autism remained. Fear has a way of clouding the mind.
I used to dream and envision back then what Nathan would be like in the future as a teenager. I, of course, reasoned with all the faith I could muster that he would be blissfully ‘neurotypical’. That is a term to describe a person who is not affected by any type of developmental disorder, especially those included in the autism spectrum. The Webster’s dictionary providers further clarity: a “neurotypical” person is an individual who thinks, perceives, and behaves in ways that are considered to be “normal” by the general population. I was one of those special needs’ moms who believed that having only neurotypical children was the ideal and best plan. I prayed for that plan with all of my heart. Praise the Lord God that he sees in full and knows what is far better. The years have brought beautiful clarity and I know that God’s ways are indeed best.
I have such admiration and profound respect for parents and families who live life to the fullest while caring for a special needs child or children. I had the privilege of meeting families coping with profound and disabling conditions who embraced joy through it all. A biblical truth comes shining forth through such people: James 1: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
There is great strength, wisdom, and patience gained through the challenges of this life. While most of us might not choose the more difficult paths, it is those very paths that instill precious qualities in the heart that last. The amazing mystery is that what may seem to be a hardship and suffering from a human perspective, are turned to blessing and goodness when the Lord God takes hold of and transforms that very situation in ways that only he can. Whatever trial you face, the Lord God is ready, willing, and able to bring you through it with hope and restoration waiting on the other side. Nathan’s life and journey in our family have proven this to be true. He has brought such blessing and goodness to our lives in countless ways and has taught us to appreciate the beauty of simple things.
I am humbled and regretful concerning all of those previous demands of the Lord to ‘fix’ Nathan. There was never anything that needed to be fixed. I literally laugh out loud as I consider that I longed for him to be ‘neurotypical.’ I shake my head in disbelief that I struggled to accept the unique and fabulous human being that he has always been. Nathan is a gifted, talented, selfless, honest, and loving young man. He is quick to forgive and never holds a grudge. He means what he says and you never have to guess where you stand with him. If you want the truth, he will provide it. There is a purity and sweetness to him that is beautiful and refreshing to be around. He has no use or desire for social media, selfies, or useless comparisons of himself to others. He loves to ask many questions and he will call you out on any deviations or changes in your answers! He loves magic tricks and is a master of sleight of hand with playing cards. His smile takes up about half of his face and he shares it easily. He is quite simply, a beautiful soul.
I do not know what the future holds for Nathan and do not have to. I have let go of the countless fears over how he will get along in this life and who will be there to love, accept and help support him. The Lord God created Nathan and knows the path and plans for his life, and they are good. I encourage every parent who trusts in the Lord to release every fear and worry over your child’s future to the faithful and good hands of the Lord, no matter if you have a child of different and special needs or not. This world is rough, but God is in control. Remember to keep praying and holding on to hope.
Somewhere along the line I actually did have a miracle answered regarding Nathan, but it was far better than the one I had been seeking. I can’t even exactly say where or when it happened, but it did. The miracle is this; if the Lord God granted me one request regarding Nathan now, I would simply ask that he remain exactly the way that he is and always has been. I wouldn’t change a single thing.
A change of heart and perspective is indeed a profound miracle from the Lord.
I am really looking forward to this Ruth Chris dinner date one day! Oh, it’s coming…