If you are a person of faith then we have all have a common ground, don’t we? We believe that good came down and brought hope and peace to a messed up world. We believe that everyone has access to that hope and peace if they want it. We also believe that hope and peace are our cornerstone, rock, and anchor.
Where our common ground gets muddied is when God becomes the universal answer for struggle or success. What’s the answer for that hurting person? “God”. What’s wrong with that person? “They don’t have God.” Why does that family have it so hard? “They must not pray to God.” Why is that family so blessed? “God”.
Now, we don’t (or at least I would hope not) say it quite that bluntly. But we may think it. Because surely, if something is wrong, or tension is felt, or doubt and the unknown surrounds us, or someone is rich and has a golden touch then God is either present because we’re good or He is not because we messed up. Either way, we walk in a belief system that holds us responsible for our own luck.
But fellow faith friends, where is the hope in that?
Matt and I were recounting conversations had with friends tonight who also has a son with autism. This particular conversation went something like this:
“There’s been so much growth in the last six months.”
“What do you think has made the difference?”
“I don’t know.”
Now, as a person of faith, and as a special needs parent who calls on every bit of hope and faith and strength from a power much greater than our own being, that answer is unsettling. We want the answer to be “God”. We want to say “hard work”.
But. We can’t. Do you know why?
Because that assumes that God isn’t listening to the other person’s prayers. Because that assumes that you work harder than someone else. And you know what happens when you ass u me.
Autism has grown us, shaped us and changed us. It has rocked us to the core of our physical, mental, and spiritual beings. We do it wrong. We sometimes do it right. We are not always graceful or forgiving or loving. But we are learning. We are growing. We have hope and it anchors us. We have faith and it comforts us. We have grace and it strengthens us. And we believe that God gives all of those things freely to whomever asks for them.
But we do not believe that God hears our prayers and not someone else’s. We do not believe that the consistency of our prayers enable God to choose what child with a disability gets to meet a milestone and who does not. We believe that doors have been opened for us and we did nothing to deserve it. We believe that Liam works his little tail off and hard work does produce fruit. But we also believe that part of living with a disability means that hard work looks different, and so does its fruit.
We believe that faith works the same way. And as a community, we need to acknowledge that and watch how quickly and mindlessly we answer questions with “God”. Matt and I give every ounce of credit for our hope, faith, strength, grace and love to God, because we are people of faith. But we have been changed. We can not, to the best of our ability, make someone else feel less than because we rattle off an answer to success as credit for something that we did nothing for.
Anchored hope. Inclusive grace. Merciful faith.