Why I'm not really here anymore

If you've been a regular reader of this blog you might have noticed that my postings have become less and less frequent. I started off thrilled to bits that at last I had a forum for my odd and random thoughts and posted twice a day on the odd occasion that I had two things to say in 24 hours.

For the last month, though, there hasn't been much room in my brain for extra ideas and interesting concepts.

I have been a little bit concerned about my second child for about 18 months - ever since he was one and a half. His social development and language seemed a long way behind his very bright big sister at the same age. But people kept saying things like, "Oh, he's just a little bit slower. Einstein didn't talk until he was six you know," or "It's just boys and girls. Girls always talk earlier."

As he got older he seemed to become more and more 'eccentric', and around the time he turned three, a month ago, about three or four people independently mentioned the word 'autism' to me. I have done a whole lot of research on it, and when we take him to the paediatrician in two weeks I am expecting a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, or something very similar.

Obviously, this is hard news. I feel very very heavy about it. I feel sapped of energy for anything else apart from thinking about him and what we should do for him. I feel angry. I feel tired. I feel ripped off.

Even though I don't understand evil and sickness and the many bad things there are in the world, and even though I don't know why it has to be my little boy who is afflicted in this way, I can stand and firmly attest to God's goodness.

Just before all of this came to the fore, I had an interesting conversation with God. I do not normally have conversations with God. I am not the type who says, "God told me" with great abandon. I have trouble believing those who do say that sort of thing. However, I was praying one Sunday, as I wheeled my baby around in the pram outside church (he didn't want to sleep and was too noisy to stay inside). I was praying for a particular spiritual gift. "Lord, give it to me please. It would really be great. I could do so much for you."

Like a little quiet voice inside my head, I think God said "Why do you want that so much?"

I had to stop and think. "Well, it would be great for pastoral ministry. I could really do some good - for you of course." And then I realised - I wanted that particular gift for myself, so I could look good in ministry and have charisma and personal power. I had to repent. And again the quiet voice came, "It would be better if you really loved people."

"All right, Lord, that's what I'll pray for. Please - teach me to really love people." I started to pray the prayer, believing that God had given me that desire.

The very next day, the first person of the four mentioned autism to me. My heart stood still, and I had to cope with the idea that my child could have something seriously wrong with him. At the very same time, I felt a love that I have not felt for twenty or so years.

Let me explain: someone in my close circle when I was growing up had developmental difficulties in their life. And although I loved that person deep down, I often found frustration and anger crowding out the love. Now, in one instant, I saw that person from a parent's perspective, and love for them absolutely overwhelmed me. It has not gone away since.

Already I can see God's goodness in this. It's a beautiful, tangible reminder of his love that he's given me in this hard time - sort of like an extra little light in the darkness. Praise God for answering prayers and working all things out for the good of those who love him. In the meantime, I'd appreciate your prayers, for us, and for our little boy.

I'll keep posting, but it may be less frequently. And I may break the rule I started out with - which was that this blog would be my one 'child-free zone'....

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