Being a mother to a special needs child can be extremely rewarding. I've learned to rejoice through even the smallest of victories, because I know how much work went in to them. I've learned compassion in a way I didn't understand before. I've learned how to rely on God's strength and not my own. I've seen how God uses the most difficult of circumstances, to work in my life and the lives of others.
However, it is also extremely exhausting. I've lost countless hours of sleep. I've spent many days in tears. I've spent days wondering if my child would live, and spent days crying out to God on his behalf.
On top of all of that, the really ugly side of special need parenting is that sometimes our children say and do mean things to us. I have shared in the past that Timothy's anger is most often directed towards me. Since his brain injury, he's had a more difficult time controlling it. This summer was even more difficult than before. My son can't process information or his feelings the way others can. He has the mind of a first grader inside the body of a thirteen year old.
This past week has been increasingly difficult. Timothy said some very hurtful things to me. It's painful. Painful to the point that sometimes I felt I couldn't breathe. It's painful to pour so much into a child that treats me so poorly.
It's common for autistic children to not show affection. I've learned to accept that and to treasure the rare moments when he does. I don't think I can find the words to describe how painful it is to love someone so deeply and that person doesn't return your affection and is openly hostile to you.
As I struggled through last week, I have cried out to God for understanding. I've also reached out to a handful of people for prayer support and wisdom. As I described my pain to my sister, she said, "Cari, this is the gospel. God's love on display for us even when we're hostile to Him"
Through the rest of the day, I pondered these words. She was so right. Before Christ, I not only withheld my love, I was openly hostile to Him. I did things that I knew were wrong; things that I knew were against His commands. I reached out to other people and things to ease the pain and emptiness I felt. I turned everywhere but to Him.
Yet, despite my rejection He still loved me and sought after me. John 15:11-12 says, "These things I have spoken to you , that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
How did He love us? He gave His life. He paid the ultimate penalty for our sin. He conquered sin and death, so that we could have eternal life. In Luke 7 Jesus talks about a sinful woman who loves so much because she has been forgiven so much. I have been forgiven of so much...so much. Jesus loved me even though I didn't deserve it.
So, how can I do any less for my son? I cannot withhold love from him just because he didn't earn it. That isn't what true, sacrificial love is.
While we try to find help for him to learn how to process his feelings, I have to love him through this. I won't pretend this will be easy. I know there are many more difficult days ahead. I also know that I don't have the power in my own strength to be the mom Timothy needs.
However, what I do know is God's strength is enough. His love is enough. His grace is sufficient.