It's supposed to rain today. And tomorrow. Then Thursday, it's supposed to be sunny. Yesterday, the weather website said it was a 60% chance. This morning, it was 80%. Now, it's 80% today, 100% tomorrow. They do their best, The Weather Channel, and I'm convinced that if anyone knows they do.
Thing is, right now it's pretty sunny out with just a few stray clouds. Guess that 20% chance of sun is working its magic.
Yeah, that's right. If there's a chance it could rain, there's also a chance it could be sunny. The experts work to tell us what's going to happen... or might happen... so that we may prepare accordingly. How we react to that forecast is up to us. We can pretend it doesn't exist, they don't know what they're talking about. But if you're planning an outdoor event, the "lalala, I can't hear you" approach to weather prediction is more than foolish.
Say you're planning an outdoor birthday party. They say it'll rain... oh... a good 80% chance on Monday. Then every day the prediction changes a bit here and there. What do you do? Plan for rain? Plan for no rain? Or maybe no rain but with a back up plan?
This is somewhat how I see our Ryan's diagnosis. It would be foolish to suggest that the experts are completely misinformed and there is no reason to do anything differently than we do with our other kids. I could just hire a baby sitter and go out for a date and let the chips fall where they may. I could take him out of therapy, because those trips are pretty tiring. They wear on the budget, the other kids, the van, and to a degree on Ryan. I could give up on our church attendance. It's hard to make that part of routine too. God is in charge, right? And if He's bigger than Autism, bigger than it all... even church... I should be able to do what's easy and it'll all fall in our laps, if He really loves us.
Or we could go the other way, allowing the statistics of children with severe classic autism as adults to frighten us to the point where our faith is paralyzed. We could meditate on the issues, the struggles, the things he can't do. We could, out of concern for his potential disappointment, just start telling him about how the likelihood of him participating in band, social things, excelling academically is terribly low. We could start preparing him that statistics show he'll not live on his own, that he'll have a hard time in college if he goes at all. We could wake up every day reminding ourselves of these things, too.
But you see, the forecast is just that. It's an expert's educated prediction of what will happen. To take this as gospel... as the decided end to the chapters and books of our lives... would be tragic. On the other hand, to ignore them and not prepare and work toward goals set by ourselves and people such as these would be worse than foolish. In this circumstance, I believe it's neglect.
So what do we do?
We wake up every day and do the things we can do. Parenting is interesting, and a ton of work- no matter what their challenges. We focus on their strengths, encourage, correct, hug, and train. We tell them how great they are, how handsome, beautiful, amazing, precious they are. We pray for them, we dream for them. We celebrate the wonderful times, the times their sheer presence in our lives takes our breath away and brings a lump to our throats. When things get rough, when our hearts are heavy for their behavior, fears, anxiety, choices, or when that lump in our throats is brought by the fact that we wish we could take away the unfairness of it all, we keep loving. We hang onto them and cry with them. We correct them, taking a mommy time out when needed.
I wish I could promise that the hard things will end, and that sunshine will be all you see after this one thing passes. I wish there was a cure for all the illnesses, disorders, syndromes, and disabilities. But more than that, I pray that we all... no matter what we face... will grasp hold of God's promises for us and our kids. That we will keep rising, working, fighting the beautiful fight, whatever yours is, with grace and integrity. That we will remember that, since we cannot see one another's struggles, we must choose to offer mercy and love, especially in the moment-to-moment of life, especially when no one is looking. And know that God sees, hears, and will do the things we cannot to the completion of his plan.
I pray not that the rain would end, or the rain would come... but that we will all learn to bask in the sun and dance in the rain.