Fast forward to the worship service. I managed to sneak through the minefield of windows and doors, only revealing myself to Ryan and not the others. If you're a parent, you know that one poorly-planned glimpse of mommy that can tank the rest of the day. Yet another way parents have to be part ninja! We walked into the service, taking our seats in the very back-backest of the room. Ryan immediately asked for lunch and began to flip out just a little... but soon Daddy came in and all was well for a minute. The next time he asked for lunch, I whipped out the stickers. Ed. note... do not use stickers based on Angry Birds unless you want the sound effects that go along with every character. Lesson learned the hard way. Through the service, Ryan stick at least a hundred stickers all over a piece of paper. Then he started sticking them to the inside of his shirt pocket. I think Mr. Sensory Seeker was diggin' the feeling of the lumps in his pocket. Silly, sweet boy. And it was sweet! Such a wonderful time with my boy. No, he wasn't taking sermon notes. He wasn't sitting up most of the time. But he was in the chairs, between his Daddy and I, being quiet and letting us hear the sermon. We sat when everyone else stood, but that's no biggie. We were there and participating!
The Sunday before... even the night before... made this a vacation right up there with a trip to the beach. Ryan spent much of Friday afternoon having trouble waiting and accepting no. What's trouble? Meltdowns. Screaming, shaking, crying, kicking, hitting, beating, unstoppable. The previous Sunday I'd not yet discovered the sticker phenomenon. That day he started demanding loudly to leave. After a trip out of the building for about ten minutes, after saying calmly over and over that yes, he's okay, and that this is important and we're all going to sit together and listen and learn and worship... after explaining calmly over and over why we're here and that we're not leaving till it's over... he finally calmed down. More like snapped out of it. It's so hard to explain. I came very close to giving in and texting Eric to get the littles and let's leave. It was getting hard, and I began to doubt the worth of hanging on. After all, we go back in and everyone gets to hear all this. But I scraped what we had left and went back in, sitting by my dear Eric.
I was so tired. Weary. Worn. Exhausted. I wanted to hold him tight and cry. He started to fuss again, and as I was telling him calmly to "shh", the words shot through the room, hitting their mark with expert accuracy...
Pray your pain.
The little girls in front of me were writing notes to their mother, drawing pictures of random things, squirming, but generally just being normal little kids. The contrast hurt. Ryan isn't yet able to express himself by drawing. Doesn't enjoy doodling. Sounds silly, but you never realize how much these little things matter.. like sweet drawings on the bulletin in church... until they're not happening. Then more words hit.
Pray your hurt.
I get so frustrated, so angry at times that we live with Autism. I get angry at others for taking these things for granted. I get so angry at insensitivity... at CELEBRATED insensitivity from people who you'd think would know better... that I have to fight wanting to shut the doors and keep us safe from hurt. Safe from the looks and glares and shaken heads. So bruised and crushed by judgement of people... people who have no idea what we go through, what Ryan goes through, and have no idea who we are... that I have to fight to make myself step out and have relationships with other people.
Pray your anger.
This message was so huge to me. The things to do other than pray? Stuff it. Vent it. Stuff it... I've done that. It eventually explodes and causes more harm than good. If I do keep it from exploding, it still affects others via my attitude and heart toward life in general. I've vented too. But both of these options are expecting humans to solve our problems. Yes, there are times to go to the other person in love, but these instances should be carefully and prayerfully chosen. But if we pray it... always pray it when the hurt creeps up, the anger begins to boil, we're asking for help from a place we're likely to get it.
Right about this time, I realized that I had stickers in my purse. Randomly. I think I literally stuck them in there to clear off the table real quick before dinner, so they wouldn't get lost. Pulled them out, handed them to my precious boy... magic. For the last few minutes of that service, I had some quiet.
Fast forward again to this past Sunday. Ryan was all happily snuggled between us, being fabulous. I looked at Eric and asked if I should go get the littles. The service wasn't over, but the sermon was. Our church has communion every Sunday, each family walking to the front to receive the elements. We've decided Maelynn and Richie's first little taste of church will be this time. We walked to the front, did our thing, and walked back to the back to sit again through the offertory and wait for the benediction, the blessing in parting for the week. We raise our hands as a church to receive the benediction... as I glanced down, there was sweet Richie, standing with hands outstretched between his Daddy and I.
Is it a lot of work to stay involved in a body of believers? Yes.
Is it worth it?
Thanks be to God!
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a
great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV)
If you'd like to hear the whole sermon, click >HERE< . The inspiring sermon for this blog was September 11.