I Belong to You

“Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky”

~The Love of God (my favorite hymn)


I help Hope into her satin-y red dress, stand her in front of the mirror and fuss with her soft curls, while trying to keep my heart in my chest.

Her father calls “Time to go!” and I rush her downstairs and into her best shoes and coat. I kiss her cheek and she’s dashes for the door.

She’s been practicing “Away in a Manger” for weeks, and tonight is the big night. The school Christmas concert.

And I am missing it.

My thoughtful friend – her daughter also in the concert – had called days before wondering about our plans and how she could help. B’s going to go, and I’ll stay home with Rhema, I tell her. I don’t want him to miss it.

A long night. In a church. Lots of children and adults. All kinds of sights and sounds. The expectation to sit quietly through it all. A bit too much to ask of our Rhema-girl right now.

At least one of us could enjoy it, that was my reasoning. I should have planned ahead and asked for help, got babysitting. But I just didn’t expect to feel the overwhelming longing, sadness and yes, resentment toward the autism, as they hurry out and the basement door slams shut.

I walk up the stairs slowly, aware of the fact that my big girl had been out of my sight too long, but I take my time, my own little rebellion.

I come upon a small flood. The child in a tub full of water silently dumping pails of it onto the floor, as if she’s going under. And I just watch her for a while wondering how many more nights… how many more years like this autism will isolate her and dump on me and make parents choose between their children.

She steps out of the tub at one end, runs to the other end and jumps back in the tub. Then out, then in, then out, then in, sloshing water as she goes.    

Any other mother out there staying home tonight  because her child has a developmental disability?

Is it just me and my strange girl and our chaos?

Later, after the bath rugs are thrown in the wash and towels are on the floor, I coax her to sit in my lap for a few moments. She puts her face close to mine and breathes heavy. That’s her best, sweetest version of a kiss; her love refreshing me.

“I belong to you,” I say.

(I’m never sure if she’s listening or understanding or even interested, but sometimes she’s the best person to talk to.)

“I heard a song today that made me think of you. It’s based on a Bible verse that says nothing can separate us from God’s great love for us. Not anything in this world! Not the present or the future, not angels or demons, not height nor depth, not the worst sins, not hardship, not pain, not sorrow, not even death can do it. That means so much to me, Rhema, when I think about my life and things I’ve done. That He loves me still, anyway, even though.

I can’t even make sense of that kind of faithful, unending love. But God gave me a taste of it when He gave me to you and Hope.

Because nothing can separate you from my love. Not silence or distance. Not stimming, flopping, bolting. Not poop art. Not floods or any form of destruction. Not aggressions and regressions. Not lost opportunities. Not stares in public. Not a million school consults and IEP meetings and therapy appointments. Not broken dreams, not heartache. Not weakness or failure. Not the present or the future. Not highs or lows. Not trouble now or ever. Nothing can take you from my great love.

I belong to you.”

36 thoughts on “I Belong to You

  1. I love that song. Now I’ll be singing it all day. 🙂
    And we were home from church again yesterday morning, not because of the autism but because yet another of my four was throwing up…do not feel alone…even the mothers of neurotypical kids are isolated at home way too often just because of a stomach bug or colds or random fevers…it is not just you and the chaos…

  2. I’m so sorry… having two kids who are in very different places is so tough. But the words you wrote here and that song sure are comforting.

    Wish I would have seen this last night when we were at home and missing our church’s candlelight service.

  3. At our house, it is usually me staying home with both kids while my husband goes out, or him at home while I go out alone. Someday things will be different.
    Thanks for sharing this, it is beautifully written.

  4. Sorry you had to miss Hope’s concert, maybe someone recorded it so you can at least see it after the fact? Beautiful post…great reminder of both our Father’s extravagant love for us and our love for our children.

  5. Going out has just gotten so hard for Wyatt lately. I often feel that my husband and I are a tag team. I can’t remember the last time the four of us have been anywhere together. Even Christmas celebrations have been divided this year. I celebrated with Nathan and my family yesterday, Eric will celebrate with Nathan and his family next week. It’s complicated, and it’s lonely, maybe even getting lonelier, but as you said so beautiful, absolutely nothing can separate this child from my great love.

  6. Just Beautiful and very real. This just happen to me last week. Same situation, stayed home with my son and mu husband went to our daughter Xmas school play.

  7. wow, what is it with our kids and bathtub calamities! i have witnessed that scene myself, more than once. there is a reason why the faucet cover/handle has been taken off our bathtub and why none of my sinks have drain plugs anymore!

    make sure you go the next one, J. those shining moments with “the other child” (no offense intended to either of my kids) are so wonderful — and needed.


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  9. When reading your story I saw my own life. On many occasions me and my wife have had to determine who is going with our daughter to her activities and who is going to stay home with our son who has autism. And the event on the tub; exactly the same with our son. Sometimes is good to know that others go through our same situations and struggles; that there are others that truly understand. Thanks for shearing.

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