I've written previously about our youngest daughter and our legal battles for her special education needs, due to her autistic spectrum disorder. I also referenced some of the tiredness, and emotional toll that this process took.
The challenges of this for us, ebbs and flows, but seems so often like surface water, that sits on the top of my soul, too saturated to drain away. One small downpour and I seem to be deep in water again.
Sitting in a seminar today with my wife, led by the National Autistic Society (that was immensely helpful), I found myself perfused again. As I was browsing some of the books and resources at the event, I was given a glimpse of many of the issues and future challenges that our daughter may face.
And for a moment, I was so overwhelmed, fearful for the future, and my ability to be all our daughter needs. Why I thought, when teenage children have such challenges to navigate, do those with special needs have those exacerbated?
I also found myself unable to take on board the other parents sharing their griefs and trials. The soil of my heart and soul too waterlogged to let them pervade me.
After a few calming breaths, I began to be able to listen to their stories, and noticed that their trials seemed to come in clusters. Families with not just one, but two or more children with special needs, and partners with serious illness on top of those challenges.
If I feel overwhelmed, how do these parents cope? Tears, and pain were close to their surface, their saturation seemingly higher than my own. But underneath that I saw something wonderful, and beautiful. A depth of serenity, and character that was almost noble.
As I prayed internally, wanting the water to drain away, these winsome, broken people brought to mind Romans 5:3-4
'...we [c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.'
And just for a moment, the water around me seemed to begin to seep away.