(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 8 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
In our previous chapters of Never Give Up!, Joyce Meyer gave us so much hope and encouragement to Never Give Up. She really lit a fire under me to draw closer to God and to push through this difficult journey with autism. Finally, in Chapter 8, she really gave me the tools I need to stay focused, committed to God and to not give up.
In Chapter 8, The Keys to Success, Joyce Meyer gives us the four important keys to success. They are commitment, determination, waiting on the Lord, and taking time to be refreshed and renewed. I'd like to spend a few moments this week discussing each of these keys and how we can use them during our difficult moments in autism and in life.
Commitment...."Without commitment, people give up easily; they have no staying power at all. If you want to be one who never gives up, commitment is the key." Joyce Meyer page 109
I think about our lives with autism. I'm sure they are very similar in many ways. I'm also sure that they are very different as well. On thing is that is similar in all of our lives is we have a child who is desperately counting on us to be committed to helping them through this. Even when the days are tough, heck even when the weeks are tough, we have to find it in us to be 110% committed to helping our children. Joyce encourages us to get the "radical commitment." On page 111 she writes "This is the kind of commitment that stays steady and strong throughout the course of a lifetime, and I hope it is the kind of commitment you develop in your life. You may not have it down perfectly, but if you want to move on with God and be blessed in your life, you need this kind of radical commitment-the kind that follows through even when times are tough, when you feel alone or rejected, or when circumstances look bad." In other words, on the months where money is beyond tight, on the days where you feel no one else can possibly know what it's like raising your child who has autism, and in those moments when you feel like your son will always have autism, you stay committed. God has you exactly where He wants you. You trust in Him. You commit to Him and you commit yourself to your child. You push forward to the next day and the next to help your child be the best he can possibly be. Most importantly, do what Joyce says to do when it gets really tough, "learn to say form the core of your being 'Nothing is going to shake my commitment in this situation. I am going to see it through to the finish. I will not give up, no matter what." (page 111)
Determination...."When we receive Christ as our Savior we receive God's Spirit; we receive a new "want-to", a determination that enables us to achieve goals and pursue dreams that seem impossible." -Joyce Meyer page 112
Here, Joyce tells us a story about a young boy named Ben. Ben did not perform well in school. He went through a time in his life where he had uncontrollable anger and a bad temper. His mom knew something had to be done so she prayed. She prayed that God would show her what she needed to do to help Ben. She then did as God showed her. Ben ended up graduating from high school with honors, went to Yale University, then to medical school at the University of Michigan, completed his residency in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Maryland and in his early 30's he became the director of pediatric neurosurgery. This story is so inspiring to me. Not only because it's a story about a young boy who went from being labelled a "dummy" by his fellow classmates to a neurosurgeon, but also because of his mother's will to never give up on him. She covered her son in prayer and listened to what God needed her to do. I believe that's what God wants us to do for our children as well. Pray that God will show us what He needs us to do for our children. Pray that He will show us what supplements or therapies to do. We need to stay determined to help our children. I love how on page 114 Joyce writes "If you are determined enough, nobody-no evil force from hell, no person on earth-can stop you from being successful. If you will obey God and do what He tells you to do, and if you will be determined to outlast the devil every single time he comes against you, then nothing will be able to keep you from reaching your goals."
Waiting on the Lord..."When success does not come easily, when we find ourselves frustrated and weary in our efforts, we need to wait for the Lord." -Joyce Meyer page 118
That's where I feel like I'm at right now, waiting on the Lord. I'll be honest with you, my son just turned 7 last month and this is not where I thought we'd be. Even when they gave us his diagnosis four years ago, I always thought by the time he was 5 he'd catch up to his twin brother. Then when he turned 5 my thoughts turned to he'd catch up by the time he was 7. He's now 7. Don't get me wrong. I am so thankful and feel so incredibly blessed by him and all of the progress he's made. However, my dream of my son being completely healed from autism is not working out to my timing. I believe God is trying to pull me closer to Him during this time and something is keeping me from getting closer. I'm not sure what. But, after reading this chapter, I'm going to spend more time waiting on Him. I am thankful that Joyce included in this chapter what exactly it means to "wait on the Lord" because I really needed some help with this. On page 118 Joyce says "it simply means spending time with Him, being in His presence, meditating on His Word, worshipping Him, keeping Him at the center of our lives." She then writes "While we wait, we need to aggressively expect God to do great things in us and in our lives." I believe that God still wants me to research all of the different therapies, supplements and biomedical treatments out there for my son. I also believe he wants me to spend as much time as I possibly can playing and being there with him. I don't think that by "waiting" for Him, He just wants me to do nothing. He wants me to continue doing what I'm doing for my son but take the time to be with my Father as well so that I know what He needs for me to do. I also know that for me, the more time I spend with God, the better my attitude, my outlook and my emotions are. Remember what Joyce says on page 121..."Waiting on the Lord does not have to be complicated. Just put Him at the top of your priority list. He wants you to have and enjoy a quality of life you may be missing because you are not spending time with Him."
Renewal..."If we don't take time for renewal, we are in danger of reacting to our circumstances emotionally, which always means responding without wisdom and often contributes to making bad situations even worse." -Joyce Meyer page 122
I don't know about you guys but by 7:30pm, I'm done. I've got to get my kids into bed and quick. I try to do it in a very nurturing Mrs Cleaver way, but most time it ends up with me rushing them to bed so that I can have what I think is my "renewal" time. I turn on my favorite shows and just totally forget about everything around me. There, I've had my renewal time, right? Wrong! I've learned a lot lately about what my body needs for renewal. The top three things are sleep, healthy eating and exercise. If I do all of these, I feel rejuvenated! At least physically. Emotionally, not. Joyce has shown me how much more renewal my spirit needs. I need time alone with God. I need to try to fast. (Probably not 40 days but I'm sure I can try a shorter one.) I need to turn off all of my electronics and just be with Him. (He can make me feel a whole lot better than an episode of Oprah, and I love me some Oprah!) Joyce writes on page 123 "We need times of real quiet because we can connect with God in awesome ways in those places of deep peace and quiet." I believe that this can help me get even closer to God.
We all get to the breaking point where we just don't know if we can go on. Autism can be extremely draining. However, we have our child and God counting on us. We can use these four keys to success that Joyce gives us to help us press forward. When it gets tough and we feel ourselves wanting to give up, let's say to ourselves what Joyce writes on page 115....
"Oh no, you don't! Stop your whining and straighten up right this minute!"-Joyce Meyer
So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]. Isaiah 26:4
Into Your hands I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth and faithfulness. Psalm 31: 5
Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psa. 27:14