The calendar marked me a year older this weekend. While I’m grateful for another birthday, I confess it caused me to contemplate the future again – when the children are grown, and I am older and grayer than I am now. It is something I try not to think too much. But, like background noise, the questions are always there – What about Rhema? When we are gone… will she be able to live on her own? How will she live, where will she live, who will care for her? It’s one of the hardest things a special needs parent has to grapple with.
Breakfast had been served. Hair and teeth had been brushed. Faces scrubbed, clothes donned, bags packed, and everyone had “gone potty.” We were heading out the door when Rhema entered the bathroom.
There’s a not-so-wonderful side effect that comes with the learning of a new skill: obsession. Now that Rhema has handwashing mastered (almost), we cannot keep her out of the bathroom sink. She would happily play in the water and bubbles wash her hands all day, if we let her.
So when she went into the bathroom, we assumed it was to wash her hands for the umpteenth time. Brandon, Hope, and I all stood at the side door and called out in unison,
“Rhema. Come on!”
I heard the toilet lid slam, and Rhema quickly emerged. She came to us. We took a moment to praise her for coming. (The fact that she will now respond to her name and come when called – most of the time – is something we try not to take for granted.)
As we were piling into the van, it occurred to me that maybe she had not gone in the bathroom for bubble eating and water play. I scanned my mental spreadsheet of her eating, drinking, toileting, sleeping behaviors. No BM’s in the past 2 days and 8 hours. (Sorry if that was too much information).
“She’s gotta go potty!” I declared aloud, unbuckling her seatbelt. As we rushed to the bathroom, Rhema held her stomach.
Get a clue! I muttered, angry at myself.
She did her business on the toilet, and we were both very relieved (pun intended).
I marveled at her obedience and trust in us. Like many ASD kids, Rhema craves order and predictability, due in part to her limited communication. To her, ‘new and surprising’ can often equal ‘out-of-control and frightening.’ In this case, she knew we were taking a trip, but she did not know where we were going or what we were doing. Would there be a restroom at our destination? Would the car ride take 5 minutes or an hour? She had no way of knowing.
She did know she had to go potty. Yet when we called her, she stopped what she was doing and came. I think she believed that somehow I would figure things out and get her to a restroom. Gosh, I love this girl!
Most young kids have an abiding faith in their parents to meet their needs. Perhaps that faith must be even deeper for children who cannot communicate as easily. It’s amazing how much Rhema trusts me to understand what she wants and needs, to use my knowledge of her and my mama instinct.
I once read that trust is the product of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Rhema gets this. If she did not know we loved her, really know it, she could not trust us.
On this ride, it’s not always clear where we’re going. And we don’t know how long it will take to get there, wherever there is. But I want Rhema-faith. I want to know so deeply that God loves me – that He loves my girls more than I ever could – that I can trust Him completely in the details of their lives. That He will always go with them, provide and care for them – even as I make mistakes now and long after I’m gone.
And so, we are loved. And so, we trust.
“Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life… We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. Immediately we abandon to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises all the time… Spiritual life is the life of a child… “Believe also in Me,” said Jesus, not – “Believe certain things about Me.” Leave the whole thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come.”
— Oswald Chamber, My Utmost For His Highest