I can look back almost twenty years ago and say my family had a "normal life." We hadn't yet been thrust into the world of parenting a special needs child.
Our son's diagnosis was in the early years of what would later be called an "epidemic." In the first ten years of our son's autism, I felt so isolated—so estranged from everything going on around me. Other families were able to do things together, but we had to pick and choose our activities sparingly. Or do them in shifts where my husband or I stayed home with our son. Other moms were able to go back to work or pursue hobbies they enjoyed while I was knee-deep in therapy appointments and an unbelievably stressful life.
While I looked like a face in the crowd of all the other moms, inside it felt like I lived on an island miles away from everyone else. Often, it seemed people just didn't understand our life.
In reality, most did not.
Why Don't They Understand?
That began my quest to get people to understand. People asked good questions that I eagerly answered. Most listened intently, remembering details shared with them. Many believers fervently prayed, and I could feel it.
But did they all understand? No . . . but I finally came to peace with that truth once I realized how God would use not being understood to sanctify me.
This island of grace we lived on:
- Caused me to sense the Holy Spirit's presence like never before.
- Made me cry out to Christ and see Him as my best friend.
- Allowed me a sense of communion in prayer that I had never experienced prior to our son's autism, leading me to pray about details of my family's life that I'd never considered.
- Caused all of our family, even our other sons, to be more tenderhearted to suffering around us.
- Allowed me the blessing of learning to not hold a grudge against those who had no clue.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2)
The Perfect Comforter
God's Word teaches his children to sympathize and support each other, but God tenderly taught me that none of us are meant to fully understand the other person's life.
Why do you think this is true?
- If there were no areas of life left without comfort, we'd never feel supernatural comfort. There is good reason the Holy Spirit is called our Helper.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
- Nobody but you and God can know the intricate details and silent tears of your everyday life. Psalm 139 paints a vivid picture of Who knows your life the best. God knows your life even better than you!
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. (Ps. 139:3)
- Suffering is less about getting perfect comfort from others, as it is about the Comforter doing a "perfect work" in your heart.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)
When the Tables Are Turned
Recently, the tables were turned, and I got a dose of this truth while visiting with one of my dearest friends. I rattled on and on about the racket at my house that day. Quickly, I compared her quiet house to mine and said the peace in her house would be a blessing in comparison.
However, I got home from visiting her and was filled with remorse for my comment, because my friend is an empty-nester who also lost her husband in recent years. I thought, I have no clue what her life is like; I must apologize to her! She, of course, forgave my foolish remark because she loves me.
How about you? Have you realized the spiritual blessing of not being understood by everyone around you? Have you let the Holy Spirit invade your deepest emotions? Do you realize the depth of His love in your pain?