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Monday, May 30, 2016
Transition Plans & Daily Bread
“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
We have started my son’s transition plan for what happens after he completes high school. Of course, like many of you, we have unofficially been working on this many years. But the official version of it is designed to be formalized into something that assures us of his future. Formulated to include a series of questions they will ask him during his high school career, he will be reminded of the goals he is setting for himself and the ultimate goal of “independence.”
At our last IEP meeting, the questions and his answers were read aloud and for the record for the first time. My son sat quietly by my side as they recounted his answers to “What do you think you will do for a job?” and “How will you get to this job?” and even “Who do you think you will live with when you are older?”
As they read both the questions and his answers to the entire group present, Noah began to tense. At the end of the reading, after everything was put “into the record,” he bravely raised his hand. Smiling, his teacher asked if he had a question about anything and he said, “Well, I did answer those questions like that but I was kind of wondering if this is it now? I mean, can I change my mind or is it final?”
What he has asking is: Have I just set my future in stone or is there any wiggle room to what I might want to do for a living for the rest of my life? Everyone around the table laughed as we realized the finality that this formal process brings to simple questions asked to a 15 year-old boy. My husband saved the day when he said, “Don’t worry Noah. I’ve changed my mind on all of those questions multiple times since I grew up.”
I’m so very thankful to be a part of a school system that is taking his after high school plans so seriously. We are grateful for this interview process and the way it has grown Noah into thinking about the fact that he is growing up and can’t just plan on playing with Legos in his bedroom floor forever. But it being “independent” isn’t everything. It doesn’t leave much room for daily bread.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to talk to his Father, he instructed them to ask for no more than their provision for today. After acknowledging his holiness and kingdom reign in heaven and on earth, the next task of the prayer is to trust. “Give us this day our daily bread…” places us in those holy hands that created the heavens and the earth, trusting that he will provide if we ask.
Now I’m a planner of the first order. I’ve by calendars, lists, and Evernote. I’ve not struggled with arranging elaborate summer study plans to Noah. I can have every minute of each week scheduled with enriching activities that will push us a little farther down the road to success and independence. But when I read Christ’s lesson on prayer, he instructs instead us to be grounded in knowing that it is not our strategies and schedules that bring peace and safety.
After attending several graduations this season, I see some of my strivings with new perspective. Each graduate that I spoke with seemed very unsure about their future plans – even the ones with scholarships to well-known universities. Many of these kids were typically functioning, without the disabilities with which my son lives. Still, they seem just as unsure about what the future holds as he did that day in our meeting.
I become more and more convinced that complete independence is not God’s goal for humanity, but rather an interdependence that begins by going to him daily for our provision and peace. Still thankful for our plans, I clench them a little less tightly in my palm than I once did. God will provide in the big and small ways he always has for Noah. Baked fresh daily…
Dear Father, forgive me when I forget that your desire is for me to seek you with my whole heart. The world tells me that independence is the goal, but you instruct me to ask for daily bread. Thank you for all the ways you provide it without my knowledge. Help me to rely more on you for our long-term and short-term needs. In the name of your son Jesus, who taught us how to pray. Amen