Thursday, March 10, 2011

Life Lessons

I will never stop blogging. I love to write. I love this outlet. I love pouring out my thoughts on the screen. But things are going to change on this site, and soon, I think.

It's been 18 months since Ethan was diagnosed with autism. Lately I've been thinking about this blog and how my writing not been about Ethan or autism so much as my reaction, my dealing with his autism. So much of what I've written has been immensely personal, and for those few who have been along for the ride here, I don't know whether to apologize or say thanks for bearing with me. I know my writings have seemed at times to be like a CD skipping...constantly returning to the same themes, retreading the same territory. This has been because literally I have felt "stuck" -- stuck working through not just Ethan's diagnosis but every ugly thing it brought out in me that I hadn't dealt with, or allowed God to deal with.

I feel like I'm ready to turn a page now. Although I am realistic enough to realize that whatever "moving on" means, what it does not mean is ever completely moving on. This is not a Scrooge moment, where from this point forward I'm living transformed. It's more like a...okay, it's just a Deb moment, and I'm living life as I have before, with some alterations.

What precipated this? Many things. A book. A sermon. An argument. A verse. A look. Even the words of a former Red Sox player (Curt Schilling, who incidentally has a son with Asperger's, but that is a very long story, which maybe I'll explain sometime). Bottom line is, in time this blog will seem a little bit different because I will be a little bit different. I will be writing without seeing through lenses that have brought me too much trouble. I am asking God, and He is helping, to take the scales off my eyes, scales of fear, insecurity and shame that have clouded the way I view life and interact with others. I thought I'd lost them. Autism has helped me see how far I have to go.

But before I think about where I'm going I have to share what I've been learning, in both the last 18 months and really, all of my life. I was looking up at all of the books on my bookshelf the other day. I have REAMS of books, Bible study guides and self-help and autism information and hints for raising kids and getting along with your spouse and being a good wife. I have books on the heart and the mind and the supernatural. Devotions for day and night, tips for success, for letting it all go and for getting organized. I have been blessed with this plethora of information, but (and this brings me to Life Lesson #1):

1. Knowing something means nothing if you don't act on it. This goes for everything from the word of God to raising your kids to cleaning your bathroom. We live in a culture awash with information. It's exploding, flooding our brains and then just leaking out, not going to any use, because we're not applying the information we have. It'd be better to grasp one truth and then act on it than to have shelves of Bible study lessons but never never do a thing with any of the knowledge and insights we've gained.

2. Grief and acceptance are not only a process, but an unpredictable process that often ebbs and flows. All that talk about the 5 stages of grief or whatever it is are nice in theory, but life doesn't really work like that. I have heard this from others, too, whether it's losing a loved one, having a child with special needs, facing a health issue or ending a marriage. Learning to accept something really difficult does not happen in a straight line...but is more like riding waves closer and closer to the shore. There is a lot of choppiness, a lot of up and down. You may inch closer and closer and then something happens that sucks you out deep again. Sometimes you may reside on the shore for awhile...sometimes another wave comes in and pulls you out for awhile until you fight your way back. And that's okay. That is perfectly okay.

3. We could prevent much heartache but just realizing we WILL mess up sometimes. And when we do, we need to be stern but merciful with ourselves. Messing up is not an excuse to throw in the towel or to drive ourselves into the ground with self-hatred. Just stop and turn back. Stop. Dust yourself off. And turn back.

4. The only way out is through. Everyone's heard that a million times, but are we living it? The only way through anything that is challenging is to just plunge in, slog through, keep going. Sometimes it's not pretty. Often it's uncomfortable. Certainly it's not easy. But while we may feel as if we're attempting to conquer the impossible, if we'll just do the next thing, we can make it. Take one more step. Then another. Then one more.

5. We DO have control over our thoughts. I remember saying to someone recently, "Well, if that happens, I just don't know how upset I'll get." She answered, "Well, that will be up to you." Maybe other people have always known this, but for some reason this concept has been huge to me. Wait, you mean other people out there consciously choose to not think about things and drag themselves down into a pit of depression? And I can do that, too? Well yes, but it will be hard, which is why I need to keep #3 and #4 in mind.

6. There is always something to be thankful for. And we need to remind ourselves what those somethings are. Paul says in Philippians to rejoice always. As Pastor Mike said in last week's sermon, he wrote those words from behind prison bars, not while on vacation.

7. Love people more and you'll think about yourself less. I had this "mentor" for awhile in the corporate world, who could be annoyingly truthful at times. He once said that shy people were actually more self-absorbed. I felt anger flash through me (being shy myself) until I realized in some ways he was right. When you're always thinking about how everyone is responding to you, you're not thinking about other people. When I'm always thinking about how I feel, mired in emotional temperature-taking, I'm bogged down with ME and me alone. Sometimes just helping someone else in the smallest of ways can snap you out of the pity party that was threatening to hijack your day.

8. Laugh.

1 comment:

rhemashope said...

#2 and #5 resonating with me today. thank you for sharing. i'm exciting to read/see how the Lord is teaching and leading you, Deb.

xo