It was almost one year ago to the day. I broke. I had emotionally and spiritually worn myself down so much that I literally came to the point of believing that there was no God. That no real God would allow the things to happen in the world that do… especially not to my boy. Not to children. Not to the disabled.
Looking in, no one could see the real mess I was. I had been raised in a way that gave me the ability to conveniently compartmentalize emotion. I could be positive on the outside, yet dying on the inside. Why share pain with others? What good would it do? For many years, I was able to keep the scale tipped towards optimism, but this year leading up to Erics 15th birthday.. This was different. School would be over in 6 years, what would he do everyday without it?
The emotions I held in and suppressed for nearly 13 years since Eric’s diagnosis finally came to a head. So many years of optimism. Seeing the good. Being hopeful. Believing it would all be ok. And then… Like a cold and endless tsunami.. my emotions swept me up and sent me into a desperate spiral looking for a purpose to life while I drowned in the endless current. Months and months of seeking answers finally culminated, leaving me alone.. scared.. and desperate.
Why would this be? Why would my boy suffer? What is the point? How could this happen.. why would God allow it? My sweet son… so pure, gentle and innocent. To live in such a cold harsh world without the ability to even speak. What happens when I die? Where will he go? Where is the God I thought I knew? Is He even there?
The silence at times was so loud it was deafening. Countless questions never answered. The echo of my own voice when I would cry out in prayer, coming back to me as a taunting nag. Who was listening? Anyone? What a cruel world. What a cruel God.
I decided at that time that I would give God one last chance. To think of it? ME, give God one last chance. The creator of the world, would need to come to me. He would need to show me His glory. Show me His power.. because I.. well I,.. was checked out.
It was February of 2018 I decided to drop my ultimatum. My biggest worry to that point was where my son would be able to go if I were gone. Would my family be able to care for him, and was that fair to them? The thoughts consumed my being. Nights of broken sleep riddled with visions of his future in an institution or group home, ignored by his surrounding community. Left to wither away and not experience the richness of life. Knowing that places that I thought were an option.. really weren’t because he isn’t “functional” enough. To imagine your child.. whom you’ve seen the sweetness of… to be one of the 63% of individuals with intellectual disability who are physically, mentally and or even sexually abused by their caretakers.
On my way to work one morning, I decided I needed to go sit in a chapel and let God know exactly where I stood. And so I did. I cried. I begged. I demanded. I grew angry. I laid it on Him. I let him knew where I stood, and that I needed a clear sign He was there or I was out. I needed an undisputable way to know things would be ok, or I was done with Him and I would let everyone know it. I stomped out like a 5-year-old who was told no when I didn’t get an immediate response. I left deciding that the ball was in His court and that my clock was ticking.
I went back every day for the next week, and just sat. Expecting something to come to me, but nothing. With tattered faith still flailing in hope.. it happened. A few weeks later.. a proverbial “how dare you test me” came from God. My nightmares for my son and for so many others like him.. brought me to a realization… I had found my purpose, and it was there all along. God needed me to break, to let go of all hope. To burn the oars and learn that while I may sail my own boat, that He is the wind. I realized,.. God had been giving me direction all along,.. that I was blind to. He knew all along, that I would come to this moment, and that then.. and only then.. He would show me who He was. Everything up to that point was preparation and training for the road ahead that He had already paved for me before I was born. He didn’t create me to be someone to sit idly by when I see something wrong in the world,.. He created me, and groomed me,.. to somehow make a difference.
I’ve learned that God buries a gift within each and every one of us. Something special. Something that without His help, you may never find. Expect great things in life. Expect that all you will need to fulfill your purpose will find you as long as you trust in Him. Once you awaken as I did that you are not in control,.. you realize nothing in this world can be made good or right without Him. He will take your hand and hold it. He will walk you down the path He has carved just for you. He will give you the strength you didn’t know you had or needed. He will help you find a voice, and in some cases, help you be the voice for those who do not have one.
Luke 15:4 teaches us.. He left the 99 for the 1 who was lost. Children and adults with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities represent 1-3% of our population. Isn’t it ironic? God tells us.. the 1% matter to Him. He will leave the rest.. to rescue the 1. My Eric may be in that 1%, but to me.. he’s everything.