Grace to help us

I read once that Grace is a teacher. And those who have experienced grace… are experiencing grace… learn to ask for help.

Hope had a birthday party to attend this weekend. Her little friend and her family are very dear to us.

Our friends live on a very busy street – it’s state highway, in fact. By the time we arrived, the only place to park was alongside the street in front of the house. Rhema’s side of the van faced the highway. Not a good scenario because Rhema has a routine – I’ve been trying to overcome it for months – she has this compulsion to run at least one wide lap around the van when she gets in or out. (If her hand is held firmly, we can prevent the run around. But you can imagine the danger of this in a parking lot).

No way was I going to open her side of the van and expose her to the oncoming traffic. I walked around to Hope’s side and opened her door, and as Hope was climbing out, I saw the alarm on Rhema’s face. I usually always come to Rhema’s side first to open the door and take her hand. This was a change in the order. Instantly she undid her belt, and to my horror pushed the power button on her door. I screamed and lunged across the seats and somehow grabbed her arm, slick with sunscreen. She was already out the door, standing on the pavement –it was only God’s grace that I caught her arm in time.

But I was stretched across the seats and she was fighting me, pulling, desperately trying to break free so she could run her lap around the van. I could hear the cars whizzing by us, couldn’t bring myself to look.

“Please, God! Don’t let me let go! Please, Rhema! Please, baby!” I think I was screaming. I knew that if she broke free, she would be hit by a car. No doubt. She had absolutely no understanding of the danger around her. I’ve been scared for Rhema before – she’s been lost on several occasions – but for the first time I really thought I might lose her and I’ve never been more scared in my life. Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing of all was looking into my girl’s face, pleading with everything in me, begging her to come to me, to hold on, and knowing… knowing that she wouldn’t.

There are no words to describe that feeling, that sense of pain and utter helplessness.

It was only grace again that gave me the strength to hold on to her arm while climbing over Hope’s seat, a birthday present (one of those really big, plush Beanie Ballz), a juice box and an empty McDonald’s bag, and a backpack (Sorry, B. I’ll clean out the van) to get to her. Then I had to practically wrestle her into the grass to keep her from running.

We still went to the party, lasted a little while. And the girls had a good time. I tried to be normal but I was still shaking, and I spent the whole time chasing Rhema afraid she’d run out the yard, for the highway.

My friend Laura had asked the day before: “How can I help? Do you want me to go to church with you guys? Do you need help at the birthday party?”

And I was all, “Oh no. We’re fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yes! Thanks, we’re fine.”

Every summer when Brandon is gone (or every TDY or deployment), I go through this thing where I’m sure I can do it alone. It’s not easy for an intensely independent, Ivy League educated, capable (well, most of the time) woman to admit that she needs help, that she cannot go out in public and handle her own child by herself. As my friend Jess who knows me well said, it’s something I’ve been struggling to make peace with for years.

And some outings… Rhema is totally fine, some days are really good. Other days we go downhill fast, and there are too many close calls. She’s unpredictable, more so it seems, when her father is away.

I’ve reasoned that as she’s getting older, she’s maturing and gaining experience to navigate the world – I assumed we’d need less assistance. But as she gets older, stronger, more rigid – we actually need more help. I think deep down I didn’t want to be in “that category”, the one where the autism impacts us so much that I/we need a helper or an aide with us all the time.

I suppose I was in denial – until now. And there was some real pride underneath it all, and I’m not talking about the good pride.

But God’s amazing, preserving, never-letting-go grace is a teacher.

And at the point in the party where Rhema chewed all the buttons off her shirt and pooped in her pants and Hope slid down the Slip N’ Slide and busted her knee wide open, I said,

“O.k., Lord. I get it. I need help!”

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. ~Heb. 4:16

And I really could have wept right then, not because I was overwhelmed.

Because I kind of felt free.

Thank you, Father, for your work in me. Thank you for surrounding me with grace and help.

22 thoughts on “Grace to help us

  1. (((Hugs))) His grace is sufficient, my head knows that; so thankful His mercy allowed you to hold on to Rhema and keep her safe. Sorry Hope got a booboo!

  2. I’m forwarding this to another friend who is struggling in this place of accepting help, too. Your words are right on. So glad that Rhema is safe! Think of how good you feel when you get to help someone. Remember that the ones who get to help you are blessed by God in that service–by allowing help to come, you are giving much grace to those who love you.

  3. Terrifying doesn’t do that scene justice. I’m so glad Rhema is safe. It takes strength and courage to admit that you need help, and you are one of the strongest mamas I know. xoxo

  4. I’m so glad she is ok, how scary! There is nothing wrong with allowing others to help but it is so hard to do. I know there are many people around you who would love to help and those of us too far away are praying. (((Hugs)))

  5. Oh how scary J! Reminds me of this: “My strength (power) is made perfect in weakness.” We were really weak to begin with. Seeing, accepting, admitting… that’s the hardest part. We buy the lie of self-sufficiency. The mask feels good. But no one’s face really looks like that.

    Whenever my husband is gone for a few weeks, I always try to find a friend, cousin, college student, etc. to room at our house with me. If I can’t I have to spend weekends elsewhere.

    Hugs from Kenya!

  6. I know I don’t know you, and I’m sure you are not perfect, but I just want to tell you how much I admire you. You are so wise, so loving, so introspective, so inquisitive, so humble, so grateful, so … GOOD. I think, in your shoes, I would be woe-is-me, worried all the time, too stressed to pray, prone to negative thoughts, etc. I think I would love my child unconditionally – as you love Rhema – but I think I would be too depressed to lift my head to the Heavens as you so beautifully and eloquently do. Rhema and Hope are blessed to have you as their Mommy.

    And yes, there is nothing wrong with needing help! The help could even take the form of someone to play with Hope and take her where she needs to go, if that makes a difference. Whatever help you get, I will pray that it goes beyond your needs and is a blessing to your family!

  7. Thank you for this. It makes me laugh and cry because it is so real and so familiar. This verse encourages me, Psalm 121
    “I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
    2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.”
    God gives us help in so many ways. He often uses people. You are a help to me!

  8. Oh my goodness. I lack the words of gratitude to properly convey my thankfulness that you were able to keep hold of Rhema. As I was reading, my heart started to race and tears were streaming down my face picturing the scene.
    I understand the not wanting to admit you need help thing. I do. I’ve always been fiercely independent. Needing help felt like the ultimate weakness to me. I’ve learned though that sometimes, it’s the bravest thing you can do. I wish I were closer to help you first hand but you and your family are so often in my thoughts and always in my heart. Sending love and hugs. XO

  9. I’m with therocchronicles …terrifying doesn’t begin to describe! And what a situation to find yourself in – with one special one and one injured one to manage alone! I know just what you mean about accepting help. After years of gently reminding me, gently pushing me, keeping me to account, my key worker was so pleased, just today, to hear that I have finally arranged for respite to come help me. It has taken me that long and a few emotional slaps to the face for me to take steps to dol this.

    You are a brilliant mother… an amazing woman with a faith and humility that continues to inspire me and draw me in. God bless you and all your gorgeous family.

    But I have to ask… Hope’s knee “busted open” … that sounds really bad!? … does that mean it was broken? Or bleeding? I do hope she is ok!


  10. Sobbing tears of fear and recognition. And gratitude that God’s hands held yours tight and fast to your baby’s arm. Sending you love and wishing I were close enough to help in a face-to-face, in-the-flesh way and not just moral support. Love you, Mahi.

  11. I remember those moments (the car door opening when I was on the other side, the lunging to grab, the holding on for dear life) – you are in my heart and my prayers, always.

  12. How terrifying. It is hard for me to ask for help or say yes to help too, but I am often reminded by my mother that I would be robbing other’s of their blessing. I guess I sure can be an obstacle in God taking care of me.

    So I am glad you have decided to allow people to help you so that they may be blessed by grace too. So that they will reap grace by the seeds they have sewn in your family’s lives.

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