Bitterness and Truth
by Christina Deanne
When my son was in kindergarten, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. An autism specialist was called in through the school, she performed the standard ASDS test and drew her conclusion as a result.
My husband and I knew that Mark was special. He read when he was three years old. He could tell time at age 2 ½. He knew all the shapes in his Tupperware shape sorter, including “trapezoid.” When he was four, he read the words “drive thru pharmacy” at our local drug store. But something was off.
I struggled with the idea that something was “wrong” and that he was having meltdowns at school. I had to apply myself to get him to play with other children. It did not come naturally. I called and arranged and called and arranged. I read articles on how to help your child make friends. When I could bear it, I read articles on Asperger’s and autism. And I did this all without internet and very little support.
At the time of his diagnosis, I had three children five and under. I was overwhelmed and under supported. When the kids were in bed, I cried in my kitchen and had it out with the Lord. I screamed silently in accusation and alternately asked Him to help me. I felt myself slipping away and I couldn’t. I had two other small children who needed me.
I remember standing in my kitchen and I told myself, “I will be angry. I can hang on to that. I will be bitter.”
Hindsight is always 20/20, but at the time, I felt I could only cope and think clearly if I was angry. And I did. Anger helped me live and walk and shop and do laundry and read stories and make dinner and put kids to bed. But it scarred my soul.
Three years later. Three years of having my inside ground up and turned to dust. Of going to church and begging God for help and feeling utterly abandoned. Three years later, I turned to my husband and said, “I cannot fix this.” That statement was the beginning of my new life and hope.
It took another couple of years to go online and when I did, I found the community and support that I needed. It took those two years to work that anger out of my system. Even when I was feeling good, I could feel anger’s cold tentacles gripping my heart.
Rick Warren in his book “The Purpose Driven Life” says in effect that your problems are your ministry. I believe that to be true. I wish that I could say that I run a great ministry for parents of children with autism. I don’t. I’m a stay at home mother, who has a thirteen year old son with Asperger’s. And he’s doing well, not perfect, but good. But those ugly feelings did their work and God cultivated a heart of encouragement and mercy that I did not have before this dark experience.
What I have learned through all my anger is that God knows all about you and can take it. I was never dishonest with God about my feelings. You cannot be, even if you tried. I was always upfront with Him and never held a thing back. He bore it so patiently and met me with truth. Although I gave Him the dust and ashes of my soul, the Lord turned it into something beautiful.
Christina Deanne is a wife and stay at home mother who lives in the Chicagoland area. She went back to college and is pursuing an Associates of Applied Arts degree. She has written several articles about her experiences as a parent of a child with Asperger’s.