Applause erupted all over the room as a fellow autism mom finished saying, "If there was a cure for autism, I would be heartbroken because I don't want my child to change, I think she is great just like she is." Applause from everyone but me, I imagine. I couldn't bring myself to clap. I instantly knew I was in the wrong place. I'd known it for a while but I just couldn't bring myself to break away for the sake of wanting to have a support group, someone who understood. In that moment, though; I knew, I had to move on.
I love Linky like he is, like he has been and for who he will be. But, I believe the Bible, the infallible Word of God. The Word that tells me what Jesus died on the cross for more than just salvation. The Word that goes against what most people say, "God has a plan, There's a reason for this." For that reason, I have to keep myself guarded from unbelief and distraction from the healing (Healer) that I have set my hope and faith in.
Fast forward 6 months.
We walked into a church we had known and visited frequently over the years. I felt at home in my spirit as this was a "Word of Faith" type church. (Our home church is a wonderful place and very good with Linky. Although, I wouldn't classify them as a faith believing church in regards to how I have studied the Word. So occasionally, it's nice to visit other churches that believe like we do in regards to healing.) I treasured the feeling of being surrounded by like minded believers as we fight this autism battle. I remembered Linky hadn't been there in a while so he would be in a different class than he had ever been in before when visiting. I found the teacher, logged my number in her phone, walked Linky to class with the group and explained some of the issues he currently had; particularly with waiting and following directions.
The door opened to the large room with playground equipment and I spotted the ball pit. I was thrilled about the ball pit as I knew Linky would play the whole time and be great. He ran straight for the ball pit as I heard her announcing to all the children to line up and wait their turn. She told him to get in line and she said, "Ok, he's autistic so he doesn't have to wait, but everyone else does." My heart sank as soon as she said it. (Sidebar; I have hardly ever referred to Linky as "autistic." As most of my faith believing friends know, I feel strongly about what we confess and speak and thought I was in like minded company. I also believe in "people first" language. For example; "This is Linky, he loves to play in the ball pit and by the way he has autism.") I could tell she wasn't real compassionate and looked frustrated with Linky interrupting her system.
I went ahead and made the long walk down the hallway back to the Sanctuary. I clutched my phone in my hand and prayed Linky would be ok. As soon as I sat in my seat, my phone rang. It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes. She told me that he wouldn't listen to anything she said and he wouldn't follow their rules and get out of the ball pit. So I walked back down there and the other lady opened the door carrying Linky as he was kicking and screaming. She apologized, told me the Devil was a liar and to keep the faith. I couldn't agree more. As wonderful as her heart was, it felt like rejection and I took it more along the lines of, "Keep the faith honey, bring him back when he is healed because until he works all his differences out, he isn't welcome. Oh and good luck!"
I often find myself in opposing situations like this. It feels like such a struggle.
They say, "It takes a village to raise a child." Well, not in our experience.
The "autism community "is amazing. They are accepting, helpful and encouraging. But for the most part, they believe that autism is just a part of who our kids are and why change it. My convictions tell me otherwise and we can't afford to go down the road. The trade offs aren't worth it. I have to be careful with the thoughts and comments I surround myself with in order to stay on course believing for Linky's healing that is promised to us.
The "faith" church is amazing. I have learned so much about the Word and healing and who God really is. But, I have not found much acceptance there with Linky. They teach you all about spiritual warfare, the enemy and what God's nature really is but there doesn't seem to be any room to love him or us in the process as we walk this thing out.
So where does this leave our family? I respect the autism community, love their hearts and know they are helping families like ours every day. I love the "Word of Faith" churches that we have encountered and appreciate the teaching that has helped changed our world. We know what we believe in our heart of hearts and know that Linky is healed according to the Word of God. Somehow, that seamlessly bridges the gap for us.
So, we walk this out appreciating the help we have gotten from everywhere, but know that at the end of the day it is up to us partnering with God and being led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. In my experience, "It takes a village to raise a child" hasn't applied to us. It's been up to Daniel and I to stay the course and keep our house in order. It has been up to us to keep ours protected and walking a different path than everyone else seems to be walking.
Sometimes it is okay to be that strong house sitting off by itself, down the remote (narrow) path, just outside the village.
Hindsight tells me, even today, I'd choose that path again. The rewards have been huge.