My father has a pair of shoes
So beautiful to see.
I want to wear my father’s shoes.
But they’re too big for me.
My baby doll has a pair as well.
As pretty as can be.
My feet won’t go into that pair.
They are too small for me.
There’s only one thing that I can do
Till I get small or grown.
If I want to have some fitting shoes
I’ll have to wear my own.
I said to clients yesterday that children will break you of every single character trait that you take pride in. The statement was delivered in a joking manner, but it was packed full of truth.
Before Seth was ever diagnosed with autism, I realized that God was using my child to break me of pride. After all, you can only apologize to strangers for your child’s sniffing and licking so many times before you learn to not be embarrassed by it. Before my husband and I reached that point of non-embarrassment, we were asked to leave restaurants, movie theaters, and even church because of our son’s behavior. It was during this time that I began seeking God for purpose. I have said many many times and I will always firmly believe that God can and will put purpose to any situation, IF WE ALLOW HIM TO.
So, there I was, six or seven years ago, spending quality time on my knees and opening my Bible with the hope that God would just point out what I was supposed to be learning from my child. Every single time I did that, guess what happened? I would find some scripture about humility.
I love the book of James. Mostly because of how direct it is. There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to the conviction being dished out.
“Be humble in the Lord’s presence, and he will honor you.”
The Bible is packed full of scriptures on humility. I know because I think God had to point most of them out to me before I got what He was trying to teach me. That particular verse stuck. If we humble ourselves, He honors us. It’s pretty simple. Humility is the antithesis of pride. Kind of like fear and faith, the two have a hard time coexisting.
So now I am the proud parent of two autistic children. Before someone decides to send me a comment about how it’s very un-pc to call them autistic…don’t bother. They’re my children. I parent them. I wiped my son’s butt for way longer than any mother should have to and I have scratches, bite marks and nice size lump on my head from my daughter. I’ve earned the right to call them autistic.
While pride may try to rear it’s ugly head in my life from time to time, I now have two little built-in pride-breakers with me at just about any given moment.
These past two weeks with Sofia have me once again desperately seeking God. I think He loves that. I know that when one of my two teenage children comes to me with big questions or life problems and they take what I have to say to heart and act on it, I glow like a firefly. Those moments are probably the most fulfilling ones I will ever have in this life. Don’t you think God feels the same way?
While sitting around asking God what He wants from me, I started thinking about what goes through Sofia’s little head. She does so many things throughout the day that I really want to understand. One of them involves shoes. When we first visited our daughter in the foster home, we laughed about the fact that she kept taking off her own shoes and putting on those of the adults in the house. It was comical to watch our little girl stomping around in grown-up shoes. Now that we have known her for more than a month, the comic effect has worn off. She is still attempting to wear the shoes of everyone in the house. Both figuratively and literally. I think that this little girl has been attempting to wear shoes much too large for her since she came into this world. I can only assume that any strong soul placed in an institutional setting at birth would do the same. She learned to meet her own needs as soon as she became aware that she had needs.
As I watch her now slip her feet into shoes that are twice the size of her cute little feet, I take note. This action is my reminder that I am responsible for giving her a childhood. That even if she has no concept of only one person filling the role of a mother, I am called to care for her and to teach her how to be loved. I have no doubt that God has barely begun to reveal the lessons He plans to teach me through this child.
Every single day I now wake up with the realization that I need to do a spiritual inventory. Somewhere around the age of eight, I memorized the fruits of the spirit. My older three children have heard me lecture over and over again about those fruits. Of course, they usually just throw it back in my face and remind me that I am failing to exhibit them myself. Since we’ve become a family of six, I am reminded on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minute-by-minute basis, that I need to check myself and see if I am exhibiting Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
Uhhhh, yeah. I usually fail my own test pretty miserably. I have more love for my husband and my four children than I even knew was possible. I am truly joyful. I faithfully work at being a good wife and mother.
As for the rest of the fruits…..well, I guess you could say they’re just not quite ripe. Will I ever find it easy to be patient with a child who tells me that they will unload the dishwasher, but waits two hours to even step foot in the kitchen? Can I experience peace with a child ripping my hair out by the handful and squealing at a pitch somewhere close to that of a dog whistle? Why is it harder to be kind to the people who live under my roof than it is to the people whose underwear I do not wash? I do try to be a good person. But, you know we’re all sinners, so I often fail at this one too. Gentleness? Maybe that’s the big one I’m going to learn from my newest child. There is nothing gentle about her and I struggle with gently loving her while she is aggressively testing me. Lastly… there’s self-control. If I ever master this one, the others should be a piece of cake. Speaking of cake…..I don’t think I’m gonna have much self-control when it comes to that last piece of pistachio cake that’s sitting on my kitchen counter right now. Sigh….
Remember the whole WWJD craze? What would Jesus do? Jesus would never fail to show those nine fruitful characteristics that I struggle with daily.
Since returning home from Serbia, I have made the mistake a few okay more than a few times of trying to fill the big beautiful shoes of my own father. All I can say is that my daughter must be exhausted. In the past two weeks I’ve noticed that every time I forget who’s in charge, I end up wanting to wave a white flag of surrender. This poor little girl has been trying to fill those shoes for five whole years. It makes me tired just to think of how weary her soul must be.
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those WHO ARE WEARY,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength…”
It’s so nice to know that the one wearing the biggest shoes around here never gets tired. He never stops to catch His breath. He knows every single detail of what’s to come in our lives. And no matter how weary any of us, including my daughter, become, He will give us strength and energize our souls.
I don’t know about you, but that knowledge feels like a security blanket or an old broken-in pair of shoes to me.