I’ve discovered that, in my life, it is a dangerous thing to grieve the past. You can look on it possibly with regret, but grieving the past holds you captive, keeping you from moving on and enjoying life. I truly believe that no one wants to feel bad. I don’t believe that, deep down, anybody wakes up each morning thinking about how sad and miserable they hope to feel that day.
I have a blood disorder. It is a rare one that gives me 140 times the risk of forming a spontaneous clot than the average person. The day Taylor was born, after the birth, as they were examining the placenta, the doctor gasped (Which also was when I learned I had this disorder.). They had found a large blood clot in the umbilical cord. Later the doctor told me that we dodged a big bullet in this pregnancy. We didn’t worry much about it because Taylor was healthy. Then at 3 he was diagnosed with autism. No one knows for sure what causes autism, but with my other two later pregnancies, I had blood thinners. Those children are normal, so one wonders. Maybe it was the clot. Was it my fault? Did I hurt my child? I miss those first years when I lived blissfully thinking everything was great in my life and on track. I want those years back, because after Taylor’s diagnosis everything changed. It progressively got harder. The initial grief cycle after hearing Taylor’s diagnosis took 4 years until I could at least tell someone the sentence “Taylor has autism.” without breaking into uncontrollable sobs. I look back now at those years as the good years. Life has increasingly grown more difficult. Yet I have found that in the periods I let myself stew on how great things were before and dream about how life could be different if Taylor was normal, I became miserable. Yet even though I was miserable, it changed nothing. It only hurt me. It’s uncomfortable to be miserable. So one must choose joy.
Joy doesn’t come to most people easily. For so many it is a constant struggle. The Bible talks about joy constantly. Most of the new testament are letters or biographies and journals of experiences. I am reminded of a section of the book of James 1:1-2 where James reminds his readers to have joy. If joy was so easy, we wouldn’t have to be reminded to choose it from time to time.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
My favorite poet is Emily Dickinson, who in this poem completely sums up the destructive incapacitating nature of pain.
Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
How to escape pain? Choose joy. Force yourself to hope. Try and find that silver lining, even if it is so small that you need an electron microscope to see it. Be thankful. It starts with being thankful for the little things. It’s hard. Trust me I know. I wish I didn’t know to the extent that I do, but know that I get it. I don’t sit behind a white picket fence, in a perfectly clean house, with children that always behave, with a husband that is always perfect and reads my mind, a dog that never sheds (or poops), dinner is always easy and ready right at 5, and my house is always squeaky clean. Actually as I type this, I’m struggling to reach the keyboard because my toddler wants to get in my lap, drive his car all over the keyboard, and worst of all he just filled his diaper. It smells like a doozy to change (oh yay). I had to struggle to get my son ready for school, and then his aides and I struggled for 10 minutes to get him out of the car at the school. All the while he is kicking and screaming. This is a day in my life. Actually it isn’t a bad day.
I didn’t get any bruises or scratches, my daughter made it to school on time, and my coffee is only cooled off to lukewarm…and I haven’t even reheated it yet. If you are curious about what a normal morning is for me see my post Exhaustion.
Choose joy. Practice thankfulness. You will drown in your pain, worry, sorrow, grief, struggles, or more if you don’t. Dwelling on what was and/or won’t be will not change anything. There is no gain.
22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
27 Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
29 And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32 So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
So today, I am thankful for my coffee (those who know me are laughing because that’s a given with me), time with my toddler, and some respite from the struggle with Taylor’s autism. I will be thankful for the little wonderful surprise accomplishments he makes, like stacking blocks in the order of the alphabet, showing he actually knows it. I will be thankful for the memories of him as a younger boy, for they help to remind me that he is still that little boy. I will be thankful that God has given me hope. Hope that I will see rewards for my journey; That I don’t suffer for nothing. My reward might very well be in heaven and I will have to wait until then, but I hear in my heart from time from time “I am proud of you My child. You work so hard. I see you.” I will tell myself not to worry, to let God handle it. I will tell myself to let go and trust. I am not good at these things.at.all. But hopefully with each time I tell myself this, it will become easier and easier.
Please take a few minutes and let me share with you one of my reasons to be thankful…Despite all the struggles, scratches and bruises, there is a sweet boy inside, who just wants to cuddle, love, and PLAY :)!
Choose joy. Practice thankfulness. It’s not always easy, but so worth it.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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