Letter #6 Permission To Have Fun, Granted!

Letter 6

Dear New Autism Mom, 

If you were here at Joe Muggs, drinking coffee with me right now, I would tell you something that seems a bit silly and sometimes frivolous, but it is profoundly true: it's ok to have fun. 

It's not only ok, but it's required. Non-negotiable.  

Many parents grieve when they first find out about the diagnosis, and that is very much needed. Your parenting paradigm just had a major shift.

But at the same time, you can still have fun. You can enjoy your childs quirks.

When I first learned about my son's autism, I grieved intensely. I couldn't even look at him without bursting into tears.  I was afraid of the future; terrified that the child I had would not be able to hold the life I had dreamed of for him. 

I am guessing you can relate to this, too?

Another thing that I was grieving, was that I really did like my son's quirks. I loved the unusual expressions, the unprovoked laughter, the stims--they made me giggle and piqued my curiosity.  I marveled at the raw display of emotions that reached level I rarely felt.

And you know, I learned I didn't need to grieve that part --or most of the other parts, either.

I could embrace it. I could enjoy him. I could engage in the different with him.

But many books and voices out there, will tell you that you need to "stomp out the autism", or that you must teach them how to behave so they look "normal".  And you know what I have learned?

They already are normal. They are perfect just as they are. God made them the way they are, intentionally, and so I embrace that. I choose to see God's image in them.

And I choose to have fun with them.

I also choose to have fun without them.

It is hard work to be a special needs parent, especially when you have more than one special needs child. And although the cultural drive is to cure them: to never let them stim, to keep them engaged as often as possible, the truth is that God is the only one who can heal

And sometimes, the person needing the healing is you and me, not them.

We can't do our part in helping our child if we don't do our part in helping ourselves.

It really isn't optional.

We often feel guilty when we have fun for ourselves, but we shouldn't. We need it. We need it for us, and we need it for our families.

So think back to the things you always wanted to try, or the things you used to love to do, and do that.

Schedule time and put it on the calendar--in ink. Make it a priority.

Make a mandatory appointment with yourself, and get out of the house, alone.

Do something YOU want to do, and then encourage your significant others to do the same. Make it a rhythm in your house. 

Then you will be able to relax, to breathe again. You will be refreshed and you will find renewed joy in the hard work that awaits you when you return home.

And in case something a little more official is required to give yourself permission for fun, here is a prescription, just for you.  Print as often as needed!

 Prescription for Fun 3

Somebody Else’s Story

I will never forget the day when Joy told me that God was using me in her story.  That was the highest compliment I have ever received.  No doubt, a treasure found in the dust of life.

"I wanna play a part
Of somebody finding hope
Somebody finding hope in God of Heaven"

Joy isn't her real name, of course.  But as I thought of names to use for her, this was the one that jumped out in my mind as perfect.

I'm sure right about now she is thinking I'm nuts, but the reason this is the perfect name for her is because one day, she WILL be filled with joy.  One day, the sadness and hurt will be wiped away.  One day she will be completely healed.

"I wanna play a part
Of somebody finding comfort
Somebody finding comfort when their hurting"

Somebody Else's Story is a song written by John Waller.  (You can listen to it by clicking on the link)  I was listening it in the car this week, and remembered Joy and how she said God is using me to make a difference in her story.

"I wanna be the one
To shine the light of Jesus
Into their darkness"

When God reaches down to the deepest darkest hurts and brings light, dispells shame and heals you there... you just want to share that with someone!  You want to help somebody else.

"This hope in me was not meant to be
Contained inside I've got to give it away"

When God brought me Joy to share with, the joy ran...runs deep in my soul.  Somehow the events of the past make more sense...it is somehow ok-er than it was.

"So lead me to that someone I pray
Lord, I wanna bring you glory
In somebody Else's story"

I was overcome with gratefulness and joy, that God has done such a work in my own life that he can use my story to help others and bring glory to Himself.

That's what it is all about, really. We are comforted so we can comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Whether it is being able to comfort others in having children with special needs and autism, or dealing with life threatening food allergies and asthma, or sharing the hope and comfort God rains down in the midst of Rheumatoid Arthritis with someone else who has it, or healings of tragic events of the past, it is a treasure and honor, an absolute joy to be able to be a part of somebody else's story and bring God glory.

(All quotes are lyrics from John Waller's song, Somebody Else's Story)