Saturday, January 2, 2010

lessons learned from one small autistic boy ...

well, the holidays r almost over, and we're heading back to the routine. monday morning will bring rushing around to get ready and driving daughter to school and then i'm off to help a family with two small boys who have autism. i will help the boys get dressed and fed and off to school two or three mornings a week.

during the holidays, another friend and i took them to the local school yard where they could sled and play in the snow. the younger boy is milder in his autism, but the oldest boy (the one i'm really taking care of) has an extreme form -- so rare that only about 100 cases in the world have been diagnosed. he's a really sweet boy -- although he does have his moments. he doesn't speak, but he does have ways of communicating (some sign language and a book of pictures of things he likes). but even though he can't speak, he can show joy and sadness and pain and love. the last one is the one that always gets my heart. he will come and look at me and then hug me -- or he'll come up behind me when i'm not looking and give me a big hug. he's just so affectionate.

one day, after i first started helping them, when i was waiting for his paraeducator to come to the house to get him for school, he was sitting in the chair looking out the window and i was singing to him. he loves to listen to ppl sing and i like to sing worship music to him. at any rate, just at that moment i saw this glimpse of how god saw him -- as a little boy with so much potential and any thoughts i had of self-doubt about being able to work with him, went away. my heart broke, just like i knew papa god's had, over the fact that that potential might now be lost due to his disability and i started praying for him, his brother, and his family.

again, i am reminded that sometimes we need to look at others and see what god sees. sometimes that is difficult to do if we have been hurt or betrayed by that person.

recently i had a conversation with someone who had moved out of the area a while ago and came back for a visit. i saw them at church on two separate occasions and then later in the week talked to them in chat. i have to preface that the relationship i had had with this person before they moved away was sometimes difficult and hurtful, but, it was a relationship that had a good deal to do with where i am now in my walk with papa god, so there is still a good deal of love and appreciation in my heart for them.

during the conversation they were talking about how they saw me wearing my gray sweater on the two occasions we had seen each other recently. i said, "i'm sorry, i wasn't wearing my gray sweater -- i don't wear that sweater any more since it has a hole in the elbow of one sleeve." he was insistent that i had been wearing that same sweater and i was just as insistent that i had not and explained the two different outfits i had worn both times.

what struck me, and as i explained to him, was that sometimes we can't see past the "person who was" to the "person who is now". that the sweater was just a symbol of something deeper. like my father and brother can't see past the 5 year old little girl to the almost 54 year old woman i am now. there's an image there that we either can't or r unwilling to let go of to see the person who is now.

the great thing about papa god is that he sees us as to the ppl we will become -- the potential. he also sees us where we r all along the way, but it doesn't hinder him in any way to seeing the person we r to become. if we get words about us from papa god, we need to keep them present in our lives because it helps us to see ourselves as papa sees us. but i believe its even more important to listen to the words from papa god given to others so that we can see them as papa sees them. this gives us guidance then for encouraging them and supporting them so they can come into their full potential in papa god. even more than that -- it allows us to put aside any judgements we might have about someone based on their treatment of us and allow us to continue to love them and appreciate who they will become.

i have to admit that i haven't always been the best at this -- as a matter of fact when it comes to certain ppl (the ex for example), i have failed terribly. i continue to try to see him how papa sees him, but as of this writing i have been unsuccessful and therefore, allow all the hurt feelings and bitterness come into my heart when i have to deal with him. i'm a work in progress, i'm not perfect, and i know that at some point in my life, i will get past this and be able to see him as papa sees him. so i'm not professing perfection here, just suggesting a different way of looking at someone. and to think, it all began in earnest because of working with one small loving boy....

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