(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 10 of Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we ask if you feel like it, to please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirits!)
Chapter 9, Knowing How to Pack for the Wilderness, really struck a nerve with me. I feel like it was an answer to prayer about how to handle myself in various situations I’ve had over the past week where I’ve felt more in the “wilderness” than in the Promised Land.
This chapter elaborates more on what it is to be brought through the wilderness on your way to the Promised Land. Stormie goes into greater detail about what the Israelites had to go through in the wilderness and why. God brought them through the wilderness so that they could avoid going to war with the Philistines because he knew their fear would send them right back to Egypt. She reminds us that the Israelites were given manna, protection and everything they would need until they gave their allegiance and obedience to God. It was only after they had stopped longing for Egypt and gave their all to God that the Israelites were brought into the Promised Land. Stormie does a good job contrasting this with a situation in her own life where her family was led by God to move from Los Angeles, California to Tennessee. Just like the Israelites, she had a difficult time leaving behind the things she longed for and had grown accustomed to. As a result of learning to let go, her family enjoyed “priceless knowledge of God’s goodness” (p. 96) and an abundance of blessing.
The very first thing I thought of when I read this chapter was "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley. If you’ve never read this before, or like me, enjoy re-reading this inspirational essay, click here. The beginning of this essay reminds me of when I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and other similar books to prepare myself for what I thought motherhood would be like. Somehow, my plans are detoured and instead of a “typical” experience, my journey takes me through the unfamiliar land of autism. I learn to speak a new “language”(involving new terminology, teaching methods, biomedical research, etc.), meet the most wonderful “tour guides” (aka: superhero autism moms) and learn to appreciate the little things in ways I never would have otherwise.
The last part of this essay really relates this well to the struggles I have in longing for what was lost in not following my original “travel plans”. It also reminds me why it is so important to let this go so that I can be brought into greater blessing and knowledge of God’s goodness.
“And for the rest of your life, you will say, Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned.
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.”
This past week there have been several situations where I have had to facilitate Matthew with more “typical” peers and have had interactions with other parents who have shared about their “Italy” experience with me. For some reason, it hurt a lot deeper than usual on several occasions for me to confront the fact that my life does not resemble the life of a normal mother. In fact, I felt more like I was living on another planet instead of a different country. Most of the time, I feel like I have adjusted to the demands of the life I have and don’t dwell on this loss too much. It’s as soon as I look at where I thought I’d be (try to relate to and compare myself with more “typical” parents) that I get into trouble.
Just like the Israelites, I have been given everything that I need: I have support and love from family and other mothers who’ve “been there”, I have the means to learn about and implement different strategies and treatments that can benefit my child, and most importantly, I have God, who never leaves my side and wants to use this to make me better than I was before. He has led us to doctors, schools, teachers and therapists and has brought us through so much already. It seems like there is still so much to conquer, so much “wilderness” to get through. This chapter was a reminder for me not to dwell on my feelings of loss. These are significant feelings that will continue to resurface, but for some reason God is allowing me to walk through all of this. There must be something on the other side, something that I could never learn any other way. This chapter was also a very good reminder for me to stay in faith and trust that God leads me to and through every bump in the road for a reason, and that it will all work out in the end. Just like the Israelites, He will sustain us as we make our way through the “wilderness” and lead us to the Promised Land.
Lord, thank you for providing everything we need to be sustained in the wilderness of our journey through autism. Teach us to trust in your goodness and to turn to you when our feelings of loss and pain overwhelm us. Fill our hearts with gratitude for every new blessing and give us the faith to follow where You will lead us. Let us walk without fear and in confidence so that we can follow Your light. I thank you for each mother that is affected by this site and ask you to bless all as we journey through the wilderness and on to the Promised Land. Our allegiance, trust and hope are in You. We pray this in Your name Lord Jesus. Amen.