It was a verbal game of chess. Winner takes all. If my son won the argument, we would return home. If I won, we would get out of the car and walk into the church. When John added a new reason why he didn’t want to go inside, I was sure he’d made a fatal mistake. He said he felt “stood up,” as he attended church each week. I countered with a correction, “’Stood up’ means showing up and no one is there to meet you.” My queen slid into place.
“I know,” he insisted, standing his ground. “That’s what happens when I come to church. I show up and people don’t greet me or really mean it when they do. And when I go up to them, I can tell they don’t want to talk. I feel ‘stood up’ because I am.” He was right.
And with those final words, he toppled my king and our morning-long battle ended. But the war was not over. I put the key back in the ignition and we drove away from our church parking lot. We needed a new strategy.
Despite 18 years of attendance at our church where we’ve come since he was an adorable four-year-old, my son had not formed many meaningful relationship because, in part, we were the first of our kind. We were among the first to bring awareness about high-functioning autism to the schools, the churches, and to our neighbors. It was new to us. It was new to everyone. No one really knew what they were doing.
Two days after I lost our “chess match”, however, my son was invited to attend a meeting at our church. In a newly-built wing for a new special needs classroom, he became part of a team to dream new dreams with a newly-hired special needs ministry leader. She had just returned as the first person from our church to ever attend to a national special needs ministry leaders conference. They wanted his opinion and valued his insights.
At the table next to him were young parents whose children now have buddies in their Sunday school rooms and volunteers who make it possible for them to worship together as a family. 18 years ago, none of these things existed at our church.
Sometimes victory is so much bigger than our experience. Sometimes we have to see victory as being part of what God is doing through us so others can be blessed.
Simeon understood that. The day the old man finally saw a young couple enter the temple carrying their son to offer their poor sacrifice, he knew this was the Child of Promise he had been eagerly anticipating all his life. This was God’s answer to Abraham’s promise thousands of years earlier—the One who would reconcile all the nations of the world back to the Father and to each other. As Simeon lifted the infant child into his arms, it was a sacred moment. It was a “Simeon moment” we experience, too, whenever we participate in God’s reconciliation and blessing to the world.
Simeon never saw Jesus complete God’s mission. He would never get to benefit from all that came after him. But he took hope in knowing he was part of a blessing to follow and the same is true for us. My son did not benefit from a special needs room or a buddy to shepherd him in the classroom. My son was not understood in the early years because no one knew about ASD or understood disability can be as invisible as it is visible. But things are changing. Others today are being blessed by who John is, his gifts, his struggles and his story.
Life will not be without trouble. That is true for us all (John 16:33). But we can have hope knowing that what we do in Christ’s name, no matter how small, we also do to Him. The glass of water to the least of these transcends into a transaction of greatest value in God’s economy: love. Nothing is wasted. Not one drop.
We get discouraged at times. I think Simeon might have too. But in the long view of time, we know, like Simeon, who ultimately wins our victory.
–Kelli Ra Anderson, author of Divine Duct Tape and soon to be released, Life on the Spectrum. I would love to hear from you! Feel free to visit me on my Facebook page, Divine Duct Tape: Life with God in the Everyday Moments
Latest posts by Kelli Ra Anderson (see all)
- Calming our Anxiety in Special Needs Parenting - August 24, 2015
- Victory in the Seeming Loss of Special Needs Advocacy - June 22, 2015
- Retreating in God’s Hands: respite for the special needs parent - May 25, 2015