We are busy and full with holidays and family visiting from out of town. Our Christmas was absolutely wonderful – the only thing missing was Brandon and he was truly missed. Also, we grieved with those who grieved during this holiday. Times like these have such a way of bringing out a roller coaster of emotions.
Rhema’s also been up and down. And taking me along for the ride. She screamed literally all day on Christmas Eve, so troubled and distraught by things I could not see, could not understand, could not change. I, in turn, was frustrated and angry and low and everything I did not want to be for “this most wonderful time of the year.” Then Christmas dawned with hope. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins descended on us. Fully believing that ‘when two or more are gathered in my Name, there am I with them,’ they formed a circle in my living room and prayed for our family. Emmanuel. Oh, I’d been waiting through all of Advent to truly know God with us. And He was. He is. We truly felt such a lifting, Rhema, Hope and I.
I’m re-posting an oldie – it’s “out of season” but hopefully someone can relate – it attempts to capture this mixture of happy and hurt and God’s nearness in it all.
I am driving with Rhema in the back, thinking about the week.
Yesterday I shared some of our story with my Bible study group. We’re studying Job, telling what we know of suffering, learning how to hold on to Jesus in the midst of many trials. I was none too pleased that I got choked up as I talked about Rhema, the pain of her diagnosis and ongoing challenges. But the women of Faith, many of their own stories untold, received me as their sister, laughed and cried with me, encouraged my heart. So good.
Then there was the presentation with two autism mama friends to a college class called Developmental Disabilities. These sweet students listened to every word, asked great questions and ohhed ahhed at baby pictures of our children. And even though I’ve found joy and contentment right where we are, I could not help but wonder why again, why mine is the child who sits on the nonverbal autistic, “low-functioning” end of the spectrum.
Then there was the playground. A girl a little older than Rhema came over, said hi, asked to play. Rhema was already upset about something, hiding her face behind her arms.
“Is she shy?” the girl asked.
“Does she talk?”
I smiled. “Not much.”
“Does she know sign language?”
“Aw, that’s sad.”
“No. She speaks in many ways.”
All this a bit much for one day, and it weighs heavy as we pull up to Hope’s school and jump out of the car. The joy and the ache. The goodness of the Father, His faithfulness then, His faithfulness now. How it’s happy. How it still hurts. How it heals, too.
And then I see something so marvelous across the street I don’t even recognize it at first. Even Rhema, holding my hand, stops and looks up. Ohhhhhh. Arms pumping, spinning, swirling under the blue sky, dancing in the wind.
It’s our Hope girl. Unquenchable spirit, hair in her face, she exults as God exhales.
And I imagine I am her lifting all these cares and jumbled emotions, this bittersweet, up to the heavens with every beat of my arms. My family, the future, silent pains, laughter in the wind, what I can’t undo. Everything becomes an offering. It’s surrender. It’s worship. It’s freedom.
“Look at Hope!”
He breathes life, and we fill our lungs.
Hand in hand, we run.