I’ve thought a lot about the whys. Why has my path been riddled with difficulties. Not only the recent challenges that come with raising a sensitive child, but challenges that began during my tumultuous childhood. In the end, the answer that I’ve come to is for me to know God. For me to know deeply and experientially that there is more than this physical realm.
Verspoor and Smith, in their book, Autism: The Journey Back, come to the same conclusions:
Illness and disease are adversaries that we have been given to test ourselves against so that we may have the opportunity to become who we were meant to be, or given the potential to be, by our Creator (p. 67).
Eckhart Tolle, in his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purposes, also says the same thing. Essentially saying that disease and adversity occurs to bring forth a spiritual awakening in people. And when they occur early, it can bring forth an early spiritual awakening in a person.
Children who have suffered greatly often grow into young adults who are mature beyond their years. What is lost on the level of form is gained on the level of essence… Some great loss or disability on the level of form has become an opening into spirit. When you have had a direct experience of the unstable nature of all forms, you will likely never overvalue form again and thus lose yourself by blindly pursuing it or attaching yourself to it (pp. 286-287).
In Todd Burpo’s book, Heaven is for Real, he shares the remarkable story of his four year old son’s near death experience and the gifts that it brings, as his son, Colton, recounts stories of his time in heaven with God, Jesus and the angels.
It’s fun to talk about heaven, about the throne of God and Jesus and Pop and the daughter we though we had lost but will meet again someday. But it’s not fun to talk about how we got there. Recalling those terrifying days when we watched Colson cling to life still brings tears for Sonja and me. To this day, the miraculous story of his visit to heaven and the story of almost losing our son are one and the same event to us (p. 148).
All of these stories share the same message. The gift of adversity is that it opens up a doorway for spiritual awakening. I feel that my own tumultuous childhood and experiences opened to the door for me to be a seeker, so that I might discover the spiritual realm that is just as real, even more real than this physical world. My spiritual awakening started before Moses was born. I felt intrinsically that there was more to this world, more to life than meets the eye.
Yet, I felt completely unprepared (or so it seemed) to raise my sensitive child. It’s one thing to suffer, but another to witness your child suffer and to feel moments of helplessness and despair. Through these moments, I kept getting the same messages: dig deeper still. Remember that your child is a holy child of God. Remember that he is being held in the hands of God. I am not the doer. I just need to open my heart and love my son and all will be shown to me. Breathe by breathe. Step by step. And sure enough, we have been led and my son is healing / has been healed / is perfect as he is, always has been and always will be.
There is a part of Todd Burpo’s book that spoke to me strongly. It may help to know that Todd is a pastor.
Over and over a single image assaulted me: Colton being wheeled away, his arms stretched out, screaming for me to save him.
That’s when it hit me. We waited too long. I might never see my son alive again.
Tears of rage flooded my eyes, spilled onto my cheeks. “After the leg, the kidney stones, the lumpectomy, this is how you are going to let me celebrate the end of my time of testing?” I yelled at God. “You’re going to take my son?” (p. 40)
I can certainly relate. I have felt that way. Not angry at God, but certainly I’ve felt hopeless moments. Moments of despair. Moments of “what the h*ll is going on, this isn’t part of the plan. I never signed up for this. How the h*ll do I get off this crazy ride?”
Months later, Colton tells his dad the reason that he came back to earth is that, “Jesus came to get me. He said I had to go back because he was answering your prayer” (p. 81).
Later, Todd shares…
What had I learned?… I learned that I am heard. We all are. I had been a Christian since childhood and a pastor for half my life, so I believed that before. But now I knew it. How? As the nurses wheeled my son away screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, don’t let them take me!”… and when I was angry at God because I couldn’t go to my son, hold him and comfort him, God’s son was holding my son in his lap. (p. 84).
Wow. So powerful. A powerful reminder to me that at all times, God is and has been holding my son. At all times, God is holding all of us. Sometimes it makes no sense to us on this physical plane and from our limited viewpoint, but if we take a broad viewpoint, we’re all okay. We’re all being held. We’re all safe.
I feel that my son is going to be okay. Better than okay. His body is healing. His emotions stabilized. He is brilliant. Funny. Courageous. Wise. Strong. Resilient. Compassionate. (And then, of course, sometimes he’s also a crazy five year old).
A friend of mine remarked the other day that Moses exudes such depth, such determination, such courage, such strength, such wisdom, such resilience. He is wise beyond his years. An old soul. She feels that this resilience, strength and determination is likely a result of the difficulties that he has experienced.
Like Colton, Moses spends a lot of time talking about God, angels and heaven. He talks about how he can’t wait to get to heaven so he can fly like an angel.
I tell him, of course, that he’s going to live for a long, long, long, long time and that there’s no rush for him to be an angel, but that God and the angels are with him always anyway. Both around him and also in his heart.
There’s one more thing that I wanted to share.
It’s the story of Garvan Byrne, a boy with a rare disease that caused him to stop growing at the age of 5. He is 12 years old in the video, prior to his death. Although it’s very difficult to watch, it is also very inspiring and touching. A fully enlightened boy. May we all come to a place in our lives that we might have such courage, strength, wisdom. Such knowingness of God.You can watch it here.