Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Creeper

This year, we've begun to enjoy yard work for the first time since Ryan was born.  I mean actually get out and try to grow some things other than weeds.  It's probably a combination of having our own house, having the kids old enough to run around the yard (in back where it's fenced) while we work, and just plain-old wanting to have the place look nice.  With three kids, after all, we will be outside a good piece of the time.

The recent bane of my husband's gardening existence is an ivy-like vine.  We first noticed it in the spring, when it began to grow close to my clothes line.  It was kinda pretty, to tell the truth.  I wasn't too worried about it, so I left it.  After all, how can anything with a cute little purple flower be bad?

Through different little yard jobs here and there, we noticed that vine taking over a few things.  We still didn't worry with it too much.  There aren't many things that stay green in central Texas sun!  BUt we saw more and more of it.  Soon, Eric figured out that it was the primary cause of one of our bigger flowering bushes not growing properly.  It was even trying to choke out one of the rose bushes!

Once Eric started evicting this horticultural menace we began to see how tightly and thoroughly it encased each branch.  There was simply no room for any positive growth for the host.  I watched a little as he yanked, pulled, tugged, and threw.  Over and over for a couple of days he worked on removing this mess a little at a time.  When we was finally through, he brought the root to me as I watered my tomatoes and zucchini.  We were both amazed at the depth and diameter of this thing.  It was clear that the vine wasn't leaving until we did some radical surgery.

There are things about life that just aren't fair.  Things happen that we didn't plan, and we have days when we want to sit in a corner and pout.  Just a little.  There are times when we're talking with a friendly, caring soul who mentions that they don't know how we do it.  There are also the times when someone is quite the opposite of friendly and caring.  Either way the pendulum swings, we have to rein in our hearts and emotions.  With both extremes there is danger.

In a hurting, weary heart, we can easily turn to self-pity.  It comes in so many packages and wears so many masks.  And just a little won't hurt anything... after all, we're only human, right?

"Did you hear what she said?  This really is hard, isn't it!"

"I deserve a break.  I deserve so much that I'm not getting!"

"Why can't we do what they do?"

"All this thankfulness stuff is great, gratitude sounds nice and all, but where is it really getting me?"

"Nobody understands.  Nobody wants to understand.  There's no end in sight; guess I'm always going to be alone."

It manifests it self in so many ways.  It twists and turns, makes you think you make more sense than anyone else and that your life is so much harder.  The truth is that no one gets my issues.  No one. But guess what?  No one gets anyone else's either.  Not really.  Not fully.  Honestly, as close as my husband and I are, we each still have to figure ourselves out.  The best part about being a believer is just that.

I know someone who gets it.  I forget to turn to Him too often, but when I do, things always get better.  They may not get better externally.  The situation may not change, but our hearts can.  I know that when the word "autism" was first spoken, I prayed fervently that it wouldn't be autism.  Please God.  Not that.

But guess what?  Ryan is autistic.  Richie's not, Maelynn's not, and for that I'm thankful.  But Ryan is.  God is capable of doing anything.  He could make Ryan wake up tomorrow completely void of all the challenges he faces today.  I truly believe that.  No, I'm not angry that Ryan still has autism when God could take it away.  And I love Christ more today than I did then.  He is Lord; he has held my hand through so many things when others fell short.  He has taught me through the Word, other believers, and the peace that passes my understanding that no matter what mess there is, He is there.  While autism is not for sissies, it's made me a better person in ways words cannot express.

Still there are times when the nasty little vine of self-pity pops up.  It's actually kind of refreshing at first.    But before I know it, that sneaky intruder has snaked along every branch of my life, holding each leaf hostage.  I wonder why I feel so frustrated and why it's so easy to snap at the kids.  I catch myself speaking to my husband in ways I know aren't healthy.  My thoughts become more focused on how hard it is... and it is hard... rather than how many incredible gifts we hold.

Yes, it is hard.  Intellectually, I can say with all confidence that it's like parenting with the challenges and struggles magnified a hundred times.  I know that, but I can't let my heart live there.  If my heart lives there, I forget other people's struggles.  I forget that everyone has issues and hurts, and that suffering is not a competition.  A brotherhood, maybe.  Competition?  No way.  There is no yardstick for pain, sadness, or misery.

And before I cut out for the night, I must remind you that I haven't figured out how to obliterate the vines for good.  Sometimes I catch them quickly, yanking them out by the roots.  But other times I wait a bit... and when I do, I always wish I hadn't.  I can't pretend it doesn't hurt, but I can choose to look around and find ways to make things better.

That bush in the backyard?  It's slowly greening up a bit.  The rose bush is still not happy.  It's green, though it's growing in an odd direction.  But they can both count on their grower... their caretaker... to rip out the vines when he sees them.

Thanks be to God for being our maker and caretaker.

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