While I may be good at many things, there is one thing at which I do not excel. Driving. Just ask my children and they will regale you with driving stories of automotive shame and humiliation. It is simply a fact that if there is a way to get lost, I will find it.
Which is why, several years ago, I was so very proud of myself for not only managing to drive successfully to O’Hare International Airport to pick up my brother and sister in law, but even more amazingly, I managed to navigate my way back onto 90 W. For the first time in my life, I’d gotten in and out of one of the world’s busiest airports unscathed. Clearly, my guardian angels were working overtime, deserving of a heavenly high five for a job well done.
As we headed home, weaving in and out of 8 lanes of traffic, I was finally able to relax and enjoy the ride, talking, laughing and catching up with my husband’s siblings who were on their way to rendezvous with my husband to continue their journey to their grandmother’s funeral in St. Louis.
For the first time in a long time, we were able to talk about all that was going on in our families and to share in more detail, some of the challenges we were facing as a family of boys with autism spectrum disorder while they, too, were able to share about disability in their family as well. It was a wonderful time of connection until I realized that I’d missed one very important connection—my exit to take us the rest of the way home.
In fact, we had been having such a good time, that I’d overshot my turn off by 40 miles and we were subsequently an hour late getting home and getting them on their way to St. Louis.
But the embarrassment, for me, had been worth it. For several blissful hours, I had been able to feel connected with people in my family’s life who cared, who wanted to know our story and who wanted to share theirs. And it has been a reminder to me ever since to ask the question, who is driving in our car? Who is sharing this journey with us?
As an introvert, married to an introvert, we have been blessed with a double whammy of social reserve that has made reaching out to others very hard. And with special needs in our family’s dynamic, we are like so many others who experience isolation as one of our biggest problems.
God first brought this issue to my attention when I was reading about Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist) who had people praying for him as he entered the Holy of Holies, and who had people celebrating with him at the good news of his son’s arrival. There were people in his life and God made me realize that we had too few in ours, despite years of involvement at our local church. It needed to change.
Several years later, I am happy to report that I am in a women’s group that make me feel loved, my husband is in a men’s group that care for him, and we have found a few close friends who are brave enough and loving enough to enter into our family’s sometimes crazy way of life. But it has taken time.
And so I ask you, who is on the journey with you? Who is riding in your car? If you, like my husband and I, struggle for a variety of reasons—introversion, family lives far away, disability so challenging that you can’t get away—let me offer some ideas and some encouragement to pray for God to bring a few fellow travellers into your life.
- Look for a committed prayer group that prays for one another’s families who can pray with and who can support you with regular prayer.
- Join support groups for families with disabilities in a local church.
- Find chat groups online that share in the same disability as in your family.
- Find supportive getaways like Joni and Friends family camps or marriage retreats for couples with special needs children.
- Try starting a support group through your church if you don’t already have one.
Question: What ways have you found that help you to connect with others?
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