I’m not a patient person. I don’t like waiting for answers. It’s hard for me to deal with not knowing what will happen in the future. I’m the kind of person who can deal with difficult situations as long as I know ahead of time and can make a plan. So I guess what I’m really saying is that God often has to teach me lessons the hard way!
Almost 20 years ago, my first child was born. She was beautiful. She was perfect. My husband and I adored her. As we began our new journey as parents, we had no idea how difficult and uncertain our lives would become. Looking back now, I can see that it’s a very good thing God didn’t allow us to see into the future. We could never have handled that revelation all at once.
We had no idea that we were about to begin a whole new journey not only of parenthood but also of waiting on the Lord. In fact, almost 20 years later, we’re still waiting. Let me tell you about it.
For a while, my husband and I dealt with the same issues that all new parents deal with: lack of sleep, adjusting to being a family of three instead of two, feelings of inadequacy as parents, and so on. As our daughter, Hannah, grew over the next 12 to 15 months, she had a few delays, but she was developing within a “normal” range of time, so we weren’t worried.
Around age 15 to 18 months, though, Hannah began to lose eye contact. She stopped using the words she had been able to say. She stopped playing and laughing with us. In a matter of weeks, she regressed until she was no longer the child we had known just a few weeks before.
Over the next few months, I researched until I was certain that Hannah had autism—even though she wasn’t officially diagnosed until later. As certain as I was, though, I didn’t want it to be true. I wouldn’t say it out loud or let other people say it. But that didn’t change the truth.
For about a year after Hannah was diagnosed, I was depressed and barely functional. I felt guilty, tired, and sad all the time. Then one day I realized that I wasn’t doing my daughter, my husband, or myself any good by remaining in that state of mind. I decided to do everything I could for my daughter and to pray that God would heal her—because I knew He could. I also knew that, unless He healed her, she would remain autistic, and I didn’t want that for her.
My daughter will be 20 years old this summer, and she’s still autistic. She’s still completely non-verbal. She still has very poor motor skills and can’t do things like brush her own teeth or hair, pour her own drink, or dress herself. It took 4 years to potty train her. Yes, we’re still waiting and still praying and still believing that God can heal her if He chooses to.
For years, I felt angry and upset with God. I didn’t understand why He chose not to heal Hannah. I didn’t know what good could possibly come from her continuing to be autistic. It took me many years to realize that God truly does know best and that, if He chose not to heal her, I could handle it and still choose to love God instead of feel angry about it.
Do I understand why He doesn’t heal Hannah? No. Do I wish He would heal her? Absolutely! I sometimes feel guilty because I wonder if it’s a lack of faith or maybe it’s selfishness that makes me want her to be healthy. I’ve been able to deal with it better as time goes on, and I’ve (mostly) given up feeling angry and resentful. But, to be totally honest, at times I do feel those emotions. At times, I still let it get me down and let the stress of taking care of her all these years get to me.
But I’ve also realized something. If God loves me as much as I love my daughter (and of course He does), He will take care of us both. He will give me the ability to keep on doing what I need to do to take care of her, or He will make sure someone else is able to care for her if I get to the point where I can’t.
Another thing it’s shown me is God’s unconditional love. To God, I must be a lot like Hannah. I can’t take care of myself. I need lots of guidance. I need someone to look after me and keep me safe.
But, just as Hannah loves me for who I am, I love Him for who He is. I need Him just like Hannah needs me. I can only do the things He gives me the strength and direction to do just like I have to help my daughter do the things she needs to do each day. But the best part is that, while I feel frustrated and tired at times, God never gets frustrated with me or tired of taking care of me.
I love my daughter so much that it’s hard to understand how God could possibly love me any more than I love her, but He does! And I don’t deserve His love. I don’t do anything to earn it. All I have to do is accept it. Amazing! And He loves you the same way—unconditionally. And I’m thankful even as I wait.
Wendy lives in the South with her wonderful hubby and 3 great kiddos! She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for 24 years. Her oldest child. age 20, has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, age 18, is a typical boy and would rather do anything than school! Her youngest child, age 12, is a little social butterfly and ballerina. Wendy is co-owner of the Hip Homeschool Moms website and is returning to blogging on her own personal blog, Homeschooling Blessings.