Kick Off Your Running Shoes
- Monday, October 04, 2004
When Drew was seven years old, we tried attending a children's Bible club that met once a week. Having a child with autism made this a rather anxiety-filled endeavor. It was loud, chaotic, and exciting, all at the same time. I remember one little boy, younger than Drew, who miraculously memorized huge sections of Bible verses in his workbook. Everyone loved him. And as much as this little boy had going for him, Drew didn't. Drew was physically awkward and found game time to be a real challenge. He was socially backward and struggled to relate to others more appropriately.
One evening I watched as the boys checked in. They would earn points for wearing their uniforms, bringing their Bibles, and for having attended Sunday school the week prior. I listened as Drew answered the check-in lady's questions. Just as I thought he was done, he paused, then blurted loudly, "Oh, and my brother had a large poopie today!" I was mortified! I quickly leaned over and tried to laugh it off with the check-in lady, "And how many points do we earn for that?" She laughed, too, but I have to admit, in that moment, I felt like we just didn't fit, that this wasn't the place for us, that it would never be. Why couldn't Drew be like that other amazing little boy? Why did everything, even the simplest things, have to be so hard for him? While my immediate feelings were natural, dwelling on them and nursing them would have been sin. How could I focus on all of Drew's shortcomings when God, in His mercy, had brought him so far . . . far for him? That was the key. I needed to concentrate on comparing Drew to Drew . . not to anyone else. When I considered that only four years prior Drew was unable to even answer a yes or no question, wasn't potty trained, and screamed at the slightest thing out of order in his environment, it was a near wonder that Drew was able to show up and participate at all in that Bible club. By focusing on the gains Drew had made over the years and comparing his own past to his own present, it caused me to grow in my thankfulness to God. God was glorified in my thoughts and a growing peace saturated my heart. My heavenly Father had heaped a mountain of blessings upon me and my son and I had nearly missed seeing it for keeping my eyes on that illusive race against others.
The next time you find yourself distressed over how your child compares to someone else's, remind yourself that 'it isn't a race'. Compare your child only to himself, and then thank God for how He has richly blessed you.
Cathy Steere and her husband, David, live in the beautiful Pacific northwest, and homeschool their two sons, Drew and Elliot. For the past seven years the Steeres have implemented an individualized neurodevelopmental home program with their oldest son, who has autism. Cathy is the author of the book Too Wise to be Mistaken, Too Good to be Unkind: Christian Parents Contend with Autism.
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