• Jesse Smith

Life comes at you fast

When Elijah, our youngest son, was two and a half years old he was diagnosed with autism. When the diagnosis was confirmed, Camille and I felt a mix of emotions. We were relieved to find out that many of his behaviors could be explained by the way his brain and body were processing an overload of sensory information. We were relieved to learn that his tendency to elope (to secretly run away) was common for children on the spectrum. And we were also relieved to find out that his delayed speech may only be delayed for a time.

And while we were relieved, we also struggled because the diagnosis did not cause these symptoms to dissipate. So many questions swirled around in our brains. Did we have what it would take to be good parents? How could we give Elijah the care he needed without neglecting our oldest son, Isaiah? Would Camille and I both be able to work outside of the home, at the same time, ever again? How would we react to one more piece of unsolicited advice from a stranger? What would school be like? Young adulthood? Adulthood? So many questions. And we had no clear answers to those questions.


As we have reflected on our lives for the last few years, we realize that we have been learning some life lessons through it all. And while you may not have a child on the spectrum, maybe you have learned these lessons through different challenges in your own life.


(1) Resilience and respite in adversity. Humans have an incredible capacity to grow to meet many of the demands that we face in life. And while that is a good thing, it is also important to recognize our need to find respite, time to just be, away from the daily grind of it all. There’s a balance between being resilient and needing respite.


(2) Friendships are gold. It is so easy to get tunnel vision when faced with challenges in life. There is a temptation to “go it alone,” to try to give the appearance of being strong or in control. When we are facing something difficult, many of us have the urge to try to carry on without fully acknowledging the challenge. We have learned and found real strength in admitting our weakness and the disarray of our lives to close and trusted friends.


(3) Joy is possible. In the midst of the grind, we can sing. In the midst of difficult days, we can pray. When we are fast approaching our breaking point, sometimes we find a silver lining and humor. Sometimes, in the strangest and unlikeliest of places, we find joy. It’s unexplainable really.


(4) God is faithful. Our experience has been that God gives us resilience when we need it. And God whispers for us to find respite when we need it. And God seems to send friends who are more valuable than gold when we need them. And through small victories and setbacks, God gives our hearts joy. God does not promise to make everything in life easy but God will grow us on the journey.


What would you add to this list based on your life experiences?


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