Losing My Religion

Alright so my last post was a pretty long one about the journey we’ve been on with my son and trying to get a diagnosis for him. As of September 14th we have the official diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). It’s official he’s autistic and now we have an even longer journey ahead of us to not only get him fully evaluated so that he can be ranked on the spectrum (to determine just how severe his autism is in each area), but to also get him the therapy that he needs that he isn’t already receiving. The therapy that was recommended to us was ABA therapy. This stands for Applied Behavior Analysis and what it boils down to is behavior therapy that is geared towards reducing unwanted behaviors (such as tantrums) and increasing desired behaviors (like eating dinner or heck being potty trained). A lot of the ideas behind this train of therapy stem from classic conditioning and a whole host of other things that gave me flashbacks to my Psych 101 class from college.

So this is great right? We have the diagnosis. We’re even on the waiting list to get the extensive evaluation (it will be a few months though before we get an appointment). AND we’ve sent in the application to the state’s Regional office to enlist their help with getting ABA setup (and paid for). We’re doing all the right things. We’re moving in the right direction at least. We have all of these things to do and read and learn. It’s all great. Except none of this makes days like today any better. Days like today make it hard to see the good. Days like today make it hard to see past this bad spot, to see beyond to what could one day be. Tonight we made spaghetti for dinner. Now most of you will ask: what’s the big deal? Spaghetti is great, it’s an all around favorite and despite the mess is pretty kid friendly. Yes, well not in my household. Tonight we made the spaghetti with panini noodles instead of the typical spaghetti noodles. We did this because they’re so much easier for our daughter (who’s 18 months) to eat. Well Wyatt doesn’t like panini noodles (apparently) and so he refused to even touch his plate let alone try a single bite of his food. He spent the entirety of dinner crying in his chair while the rest of us ate. Afterwards he subsequently went to bed without having eaten anything.

The thing that no one seems to get is that this is an every day thing for us. Every day we struggle to get him to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day we deal with fits and meltdowns over food that he has even asked for. It is exhausting, it is frustrating and it is heartbreaking.

You might be wondering what this has to do with religion (if not, well you’re going to find out anyways). Over the last two and a half years as we’ve been dealing with everything it has been hard to stay connected to my religion. It’s been hard to make it to church (impossible at times). It’s been a daily struggle to even pray. Reflecting on the last few years I find it rather ironic that early on I had a friend who envied my faith and my resolve to endure to the end. The thing is, it’s not easy. It’s easy to have faith without being tried. It’s easy to have faith when you’re not being tested. It’s easy to have faith when you’re not struggling every single minute of every day just to make it through.

It is not easy to keep faith when you feel beaten down. It is not easy to keep faith when every moment is a struggle. It is not easy to keep faith when you can’t even see that ray of hope, that light at the end of the tunnel. When you go weeks and months and years struggling for something better only to be denied at every turn, to watch time and time again that better thing slip through your grasp it is near impossible to not lose your faith. You start to question what you believe. If my God loves me why does he let me struggle so? If my God loves me then why does he continue to deny me the things that would help me?

It is easy to blame your circumstances on God. It is easy to even convince yourself that there is no God because your circumstances are so bad. The thing that I’ve come to learn though is that this isn’t how God works. He will bless us, he will guide us and he will help us. However for us to get these things from him we must first put forth our own effort. We must first do everything that we should be doing. We need to try every single day to be the best version of ourselves. We need to try every single day to do what we can to be like Christ. We need to be kind and patient and understanding and giving and caring. We need to pray and study the scriptures we need to not only ask for God’s help, but show him that we are doing everything we can in order to help ourselves.

God gave us this life to live, he’s ensured that we have the freewill to make decision for ourselves, to learn and grow and become our own person. It is our actions or lack of actions that bring about our own circumstances not something God has or hasn’t done. We have grown into adults and we are responsible for each and every one of our actions. We are responsible for our circumstances. Even more so we are responsible for how we choose to look at our circumstances. My life is hard, there is true struggle in my life and I can either feel defeated by that or I can look at all that I have in my life that is good. Anyone can focus on the bad things in life, all of the things that make it hard to make it through the day. Not everyone can look at the good things, the small things that add up to so much more than all of the bad.

Through all of this I have learned that I need to keep my focus on the good things, the small blessing that I see in my life each and every day. It doesn’t mean that having faith will be any easier. It doesn’t mean my life will be any less hard. It sure doesn’t mean that Wyatt won’t throw the exact same fit tomorrow at breakfast, lunch, and dinner that he did today. It does mean though that I will cling to my faith, I will continue to strive each and every day to be the best version of myself and do all of the things that I need to do and in that I know that God will continue to watch over me and my family and bless us.

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