A Pastor, A Hug and A Lesson

I woke up this morning exhausted. It was one of those days where you dont really know how you feel. Its almost as if you feel nothing and everything all at the same time. After a long day on Saturday of Autism walks, chasing three kids, working to put up a shed in our backyard and fervent housework in the midst of normal everyday house upkeep I sat on the couch computer on my lap so ready to write but so unable to focus due to exhaustion. This morning Aiden began to stir at 5:30 am and his moans continued as they always do he entered our room and I handed him my broken phone (that works just enough to be functional for his needs) and rolled over. I drifted back to sleep and had the strangest dream that I was coaching his hockey team. Yeah, like I said… Strange. (the night before I had been thinking about what it would be to be a “real hockey mom” maybe this was the remanants of that thought) After an hour of fighting the inevitable task of getting up I walked down the stairs my legs feeling both heavy and light at the same time. I cant really describe to you the level of exhaustion that special needs parenting can bring. I felt disconnected almost. I thought about church and buffalo wild wings our every Sunday tradition and thought “well at least I will be able to rest somewhat at church”. Knowing I had to work this afternoon David decided to gather all the supplies while I took the kids to church so that he could continue working through the day. He went on the computer and ordered the materials and ran out the door. And not three minutes later I heard the door alarm go off and him say, “your truck died again I need you to come help me jump it. I just stood there. still in my pink robe and pj pants and kinda froze for a second not even thinking. It took me a moment to lift one leg, then the other to go out to the car. We jumped the truck and he was gone. I poured my coffee with some french vanilla creamer and battled the kids out the door.

We got into church and I ushered Aiden into the special needs room where i found myself apologizing to the teacher if i had seemed cold or distant at the walk the day before and couldn’t find a moment to introduce her to the lady who had put the walk on but she was understanding. I’m sure she understood that three children and one adult places limitations on adult conversation.

I got Caleb into class and had to coax Sabrina into her class (just like every Sunday) and then i walked alone into the worship area. I noted that the congregation looked a bit light this morning and slipped into the empty row where i sit every week. I opened my bulletin and began skimming the notes to see what the sermon would be this week and couldn’t help but think “wow, I’m glad i came this week.” It was a sermon on feeling tired and about where to turn in the course of trials. The music began to play and unlike most weeks this week i just couldnt bring myself to sing a word. So i stood there feeling completely drained. I wondered if anyone even saw me anymore. I wondered if i was just another person lost in the congregation. As the congregation began to sing of hope and the greatness of God i just stood there. hands grasping onto the chair in front of me looking at the blankness of one broken screen that once held all the words to the songs and thought “how appropriate” I feel just about as empty as that screen. I used to have hope. I used to have faith but lately not so much.

After a moment of singing I saw the pastor slip out as if he had forgotten something. He walked past and I couldn’t help but watch and wonder as this is out of character for him. After just a moment he re-entered and instead of just walking past as I had expected he stopped, changed direction and came to me and gave me a hug. It was as if God had told him… Someone here needs you. And for the first time in a while I felt seen. I didn’t feel lost in the crowd.

As the songs came to a close I sat there encouraged but still exhausted. I listened but my focus was in and out as my thoughts took over. I thought about the day ahead and how i would make it through eight hours of work being as tired as i am already. I was thinking about ABA the next day and kept wondering when i would find rest.  and then as pastor was playing a music video on the main screen I began to focus, i began to connect to the stories of others struggles and just as I started to relax my friend walked in and sat down next to me and said, “Sabrina threw up”. I thought “how appropriate for today”. I got up and gathered my things headed out the door to find Sabrina sitting there covered in the one thing my stomach cant handle. I ushered her to the car and ran back into to gather my other two ducklings and we headed home. I got her bathed and informed David that we would not be in attendance at Buffalo wild wings today but that he should still take the boys because we all know that Aiden looks forward to this buffalo wild wings visit every Sunday. “Just bring us something back” I said.

As he walked out the door and the house fell silent I vacuumed the living room and opened the laptop. And that brings us to this very moment. As i prepare to leave my house and head to work still heavy, still highly burdened I cant help but still feel encouraged because of one simple hug. I cant help but know that God was there this morning even when I couldn’t sing a word. And sometimes just a little bit of faith is all you need to help you carry on when everything seems so heavy and you just can’t seem to find the strength within yourself. Maybe I have lost faith in the treatments, Maybe i have lost faith in my abilities to care for him, maybe i feel defeated, broken and worn down but that doesn’t mean I have to give up. I need to stop looking at Autism as a battle and look at it as a lesson. Like pastor said this morning, sometimes God puts things in your life to keep you dependent on him. Its how he refines us. Its how he keeps us. Its how he loves us.  and if that’s the case instead of saying “God sure thinks I’m strong because of all he has given me in my life” I should be saying “God loves me enough to give me these things to keep and protect me”.

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