Christmas with autism is always a challenge. In truth, all holidays are. Schedules change, excitement fills the air, family gatherings can be overstimulating, store displays bring new obsessions to purchase not one, but two or more of whatever the item may be. There have been years when gifts have been left unopened or tucked in the recesses of a closet never to be enjoyed. Finding joy through these special occasions is often like a treasure hunt. My joy is there but sometimes behind a cloud, the cloud that leaves my son, Ben, frustrated and unhappy despite all my efforts.
Yesterday, the day after Christmas, I reflected on Ben’s holiday experience. I usually beat myself up a bit, thinking surely I could have done something to bring him more joy. I suppose that is the “mama guilt” with which I torment myself. Today, I will again accept the fact that this is Ben, this is autism, and I very little power over Ben’s ability to find joy in what probably seems like chaos to him. Today he will settle into his safe routine where life is predictable. Feeling as though he is in control, he will find what is peace for him.
In reality, after putting away the decorations and sweeping up all that glitter that you still find on the floor in April, we will all nestle back into our own predictable lives, where things are familiar. Familiar seems good. It seems safe. We feel in some strange way that we are back to steering our car down the same familiar road and we have “got this.” We forget how fragile life is and that it is only by the grace of God that we live and breathe and move through each day, each moment. However, do we rob ourselves of the beauty to behold down the roads less traveled? Does fear of change, the unknown, stifle our joy until we meet each day with very little anticipation? Have we ensnared ourselves in such a crazy, busy life that we are unaware of the joy we forfeit.
Wow, that was a plethora (one of my favorite words) of questions! With God’s help, one day at a time, I am approaching 2015 with a “Jesus Take the Wheel” mentality. I have lived more years that I have left on this earth. No time to waste! I cannot change Ben’s autistic tendencies, but with God’s help I can change MY tendencies to cave into the fear of change that traps me in the mundane. We all who are in Christ were made for the purpose of bringing glory to God and sharing the joy of being his sons and daughters.
To enjoy the view as we travel in life, we must slow down and make time to build a relationship with our Heavenly Father and sync HIS calendar to our lives before we pop up that one on our mobile devices. That is where we will find the joy that will spill over onto the people in your sphere of influence. And as the Dr. Seuss book is entitled, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” with your God leading you to and through the plan he specifically placed you here on this earth to complete.
Carry these verses with you into the new year:
“I have set the LORD before me. Because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!” (Galatians 6:18) The Message translation
My prayer for all of us is that 2015 is lived in the power of and under the direction of our Lord Jesus Christ with much joy and new scenery. To God Be the Glory!