Friday, November 6, 2015

Back to Joy

A joyful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
 Proverbs 17:22, ESV

When we received Jaedon’s diagnosis, he was 30 months old. I remember looking at everything that he did, that I hadn’t known to be autistic, and suddenly hating it, judging it for what it represented to us. One day, he sat exploring his fingers with wonder and fascination, holding them up to the light, turning them around and just staring at them. I became so angry, I snapped at him “Stop staring at your fingers! That’s why people think something is wrong with you!”   He just ignored me, and continued his exploration.

Our relationship was strained and full of policing, correcting and training interactions.  One day, I wondered what it was like on the receiving end of my administrations.  Not good at all.  I needed to change.  I needed more joy, more fun.  I used another lens to see my son, to become curious about his behaviors, to be fascinated by them.  I even played with them and used them to play with him!  As I became fascinated, he became more fascinated in me! He started to look more, look longer and engage with giggles and affectionate looks so much more, as I sat with him, loved, accepted and explored. Coming out of such explorations, I discovered that he made a particular sound quite often. It sounded like “txk, txk”. I knew he loved to be tickled and I think because I was letting go of my limited thinking, I decided to try linking that sound with him getting a tickle. So Jaedon would make his sound, I would exclaim about him telling me to tickle him, and dive in with the tickles. It took a few days for him to make the connection, and soon he started to make his sound to request the tickles! Although Jaedon made a lot of sounds before, this was the first time he made any sounds directly for communication. My joy and playfulness filled our days with little miracles.

Now we have gotten older and more businesslike.  And much less fun.  Yet, a joyful heart is good medicine.  I want to strip back the goals to their foundations and release the joy in the journey.  Maybe the medicine of joy will help heal my heart, while it works on Jaedon's autism.  May you have buckets of joy today, all full to the brim!

Dear Lord, So many days are filled with urgent and important things to do with our children's care that we forget that you are the source of all joy.  Fill our hearts with your irrational joy today.  Make us infectious and help us to share your joy everywhere we go, especially with our children.

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