Creative Destruction

Happens almost daily at our house.

It’s the phenomenon coined by an Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, in which we destroy the old structure to create something new.

A Biblical metaphor for creative destruction is the clay in the potter’s hand. The potter mars the clay on the wheel, and a new vessel is fashioned. Another image is the seed that dies in the earth so that a fruit-bearing plant can burst forth.

On Saturday, during her home ABA therapy visit, Rhema was working on an animal puzzle. She suddenly decided that she did not like the zebra piece and no longer wanted to play with the puzzle. When instructed to continue with the puzzle, she launched into major meltdown mode. Hit the floor. Kicked and screamed. And kicked and screamed. Shoes, clothes, puzzle pieces, chairs went a-flying. (Rhema often conveys the sense of distress and mourning of people in Bible times who would rent their clothes when they received bad news, for invariably during a tantrum, Rhema gets naked.)

T (her therapist) and I tried to wait her out and see if she would calm down, but the tantrum escalated to a point where I was unable to even get her clothes back on. Brandon came into the room, lifted her off the floor, into the air, and spoke to her. Somewhere, somehow she heard him and as he put her in her seat, she calmed. T gently guided her to clean up the mess she’d made, and she completed the puzzle. When T held up an animal and asked Rhema what is was, we were surprised (that’s putting it mildly) when she clearly said,

“Cow…Mooooooo.”

The great thing about creative destruction is that it always grants the ability to innovate.

Daily, Rhema has to resist the part of her that would rather escape into a screaming fit or some other unreachable place. Sometimes when someone calls her name, I can literally see the battle in her head. It takes a lot of willpower for her to turn around, look you in the eye, and give you her attention.

When our children calmly adjust to a change in the order or routine…when they tolerate an unfavorable color or texture of food, when they choose to do something they do not want to do… when they figure out how to focus and complete a task even though the sensory system is bombarded with distractions, they are practicing creative destruction. Killing the old way – the safe and familiar way – with a new way.

Brave kids.

I cannot resist but mention Rhema’s countless, literal displays of “creative destruction” such as the Slip N’ Slide or the Poop Art that still occurs more than I would like. Or, say, her body art – diaper rash cream in geometrical swirls from head to toe.

Then there are those days when I pick her up from Sunday School, and the teachers hand out all of the art projects to parents. They come to me empty handed, with a shrug and a smile, “Rhema made a ‘Jesus Loves Me Necklace’, but then she ripped it up into tiny pieces. So we made another one with her… but… she ate that one.” We always have a good laugh.

Parents of special needs children go through a changing process as well. In many ways, you become a new, different person capable of things you never imagined. When your child is diagnosed with a disability, you learn about-
Humility
Empathy
Thankfulness
How to rejoice in little things, taking nothing for granted
How to be strong when you think all strength is gone
How to pray
How to stand up under discouragement and sometimes, despair
How to give, love, fight, trust and hope against hope

We have Rhema to thank for that.

There’s a line from a Sara Groves song: “The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned.” The old me would not recognize the new me. My dearest friend Cha told me that she believed that God was going to chip away at our family until there was nothing but beauty left.

I think… I hope we are being re-molded and re-shaped into the people God wants us to be.

Because the process of creative destruction in our lives is not always pretty. Hang out with us for a weekend and you will see that we lose some battles! We wrestle. We resist the new, and cling to the old. We wonder what in the world God is doing. But the Potter is faithful, and somehow we remain a work of art in His hands.


The ultimate creative destruction is found in 2 Cor. 5:17. Please ask me about it.

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11 thoughts on “Creative Destruction

  1. This post really touched me.

    “Daily, Rhema has to resist the part of her that would rather escape into a screaming fit or some other unreachable place. Sometimes when someone calls her name, I can literally see the battle in her head. It takes a lot of willpower for her to turn around, look you in the eye, and give you her attention. ”

    That is our world as well. I’m glad there’s others out there who understand how hard it is for our kids to do what seems so natural to the rest of the neurotypical world.

  2. We’ve often found that Frog makes great strides in the aftermath of creative destruction. Rhema, you are one strong and brilliant girl! :0)

  3. Our Sunday School experience is similar to Rhema’s – when Joy is even willing to set foot inside the room, that is! I’m so curious to see what will happen with the new fall Sunday School season.

    And wow for the cow!

  4. I just love your posts. They are filled with raw clarity and truth. As I read this one, Revelation 21 came to mind:

    “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … God Himself will be with them … ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away … I am making everything new!’ …” (v. 1-5)

    Tuesday blessings …

  5. The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned.” The old me would not recognize the new me

    I’m so glad I know the new you … Pretty soon you’ll be bursting at the seams again.

  6. Every time I read, just bring tissues. Praise God for His miraculous dying to truly live. I am soooo proud of Rhema and her “Cow…Mooooo.” That is awesome. Hearing your hoping heart and faith coupled with your challenges makes me so incredibly thankful for everything I have. Surely Rhema is trying her hardest and you see that and cheer that and you are an amazing mother for it. I can’t wait to see what God’s final plan is for your family….

  7. So beautifully expressed. You’re a very talented writer and authentic about your journey. Your post reminds me of a Psalm that says something to the effect that when the seeds that you sow are watered by your tears they will one day reap a harvest of great joy.

    My hope and prayer for you is that one day you will look back to this period of tilling and planting that can be so very painful and swell with even more joy when you look at your little Rhema’s face and give God the glory for how far she’s come. We fiercely love our kids, don’t we? Even in the trying times. I’m standing in prayer with you that your Rhema will be made well and anything that has been lost will be restored.

  8. Pingback: Precious Junk « Autism In a Word

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