Some time ago, Joe and I were able to hear a sermon given by our Oklahoma City pastor, Pastor Mike Rasmussen, of the Crosswalk Community Church. In the sermon, the main theme was one of whether or not the Lord is still sovereign in our lives in spite of what trials we go through. At the time that we first heard this sermon, I loved the message it brought. I would never have known though just how deeply it touched me until this past week.
As you already know from my previous posting, Micah had his assessment evaluation the past Tuesday, July 27th. Though we were prepared to hear that he had Asperger's, we were caught way off guard with the diagnosis of the actual Autism. In his scored on the standard tests for his age, they found that his understanding of what is said to him is that of a 6 month old, he speaks as a 10 month old, and has the cognitive reasoning/thinking of a 5 month old. Another words, at 27 months of age, he is about 22 months delayed in his cognitive reasoning and his understanding of what is said to him. This news devastated me. I knew that he had experienced a setback recently, but I had no idea that he was so delayed.
In the conference with the doctors after the assessment, I kept thinking to myself "please don't say he has retardation" over and over in my mind. I was relieved when they never said the words. I thanked the Lord for it, but..... What about Micah? The challenges he will face just seemed to double or triple in my eyes. All of the "what if's" began coming into my mind. I felt like I had just been tackled by "Refrigerator" Perry at a flat out run while I was standing still. I felt like I was in shock in some respects.
I never got angry with the Lord, but I wasn't involving Him at that moment either. I felt mute in the idea of praying or communicating my heart to the Lord. I have always known that the Lord had created Micah and allowed him to be Autistic for a special reason. But this is my baby! Children with Asperger's Syndrome are able to integrate into society fairly well if given the proper tools to do so. Joe and I have watched YouTube videos of people with Asperger's describing what their lives are like. They took the "scary" out of it for us. Yes, Micah would have had to face challenges to Learn to communicate with others, but it was "do-able" to me. The only reference that I have ever had with the actual Autism was the movie, "Rain Man." My son is NOT the rain man! The Lord wouldn't do that to my precious baby boy!
Diagnosis: Autism. There, they said it. Were they saying that Micah will become the rain man? It can't be that! My little "Pookie" laughs and is mischievous. He tries to play with us. We blow bubbles and he gets excited, dancing his little awkward dance, giggling as he watches the bubbles and breaks them. He becomes excited when he knows that Daddy is home. When I walk in to get him up in the morning, his face lights up. Surely, this is not the rain man!
Diagnosis: He has the understanding of speech of a 6 month old & the cognitive reasoning of a 5 month old.
Recommendation: Micah needs to be taught PECS or sign language to communicate, but first he must be taught how to pay attention so that he is able to learn to the communication skills. Dear Lord! What are they saying? We have to teach Micah how to learn before we can teach him the communication skills that he needs? My heart is dropping the more they talk. My mind is screaming, "You are talking about the wrong kid! You have another mixed up with my son!" As they kept going on, I went through the acceptable motions. I asked questions and such. My mind seemed detached however. It was as if I was working on 2 different levels at the same time. Part of me was taking it all in and the other was screaming in denial inside.
In my past, I have been through more than a person should ever have to deal with. Never did I question that the Lord was with me. I knew the Lord was there and guiding me. Then, we get this diagnosis about Micah. It did what living for a time on the streets had not even managed to do. I was broken. When I thought about all of the challenges and struggles ahead for Micah, my heart broke to the point beyond pain but one of numbness. My emotions swung back and forth like a pendulum from numb to sobbing. I called Pastor Brian, our pastor at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, located much closer to home. He was awesome in his compassion and council.
The next day, I still was weepy and felt distress over what we had been told. Though I didn't blame the Lord for it, I still couldn't bring myself to pray either. I went through periods of functioning well, then crying over it all. Why this? Why to Micah? Did my being 45 years of age when I had Micah have something to do with it? Did I do this to him? How can I say that I love my son when I did something like this to him? On the heels of that thought, I stopped myself. No! I adore Micah. He is my precious son. I went through a rough time just carrying him, having to have labor stopped 3 times, then put on bed rest until his birth at full term. If I had known prior to becoming pregnant with him that he would have a special needs issue, I still would have felt blessed to have him. I refused to allow myself to feel guilt for being an older Momma.
By mid-day one thought started hounding me. I could almost hear Pastor Mike asking during his sermon, "Is the Lord STILL Sovereign?" I tried to ignore it, but just as compassionately persistent as Pastor Mike is, the thought kept coming to me. I refused to answer that one, even to myself. How should I know? The Lord had just stood by while someone ripped out my heart, stomped on it, then shoved it back in sideways. No, I wasn't bitter over it. I was too numb to feel bitterness. Too angry at autism. And too angry at myself from not being able to make it all better for Micah.
Today is Friday. It was 3 days ago that we learned Micah's diagnosis. I still feel numb at times. It is hard to wrap the mind around what the tests indicated. I'm not crying as much, though the tears are there in my heart. I am choosing to focus on a couple of things. 1. Micah is still the same little boy he was before we walked into that assessment. 2. I know in my heart that Micah is more intelligent than a 5 month old. I have watched him reason things out and come up with the accurate answer. 3. I am being proactive and getting the resources lined up to give Micah the best chance possible. 4. I am determined to learn the skills needed to homeschool Micah as planned. 5. I am redirecting my feelings about his diagnosis into a more constructive way of expressing it - I am becoming Micah's advocate even more than previously.
As for the opening question, "Is the Lord still Sovereign?", I am acknowledging that He is the one in control. I know that He has a purpose in creating Micah to be exactly as he is. I know that one day Micah may very well be a testimony of the Lord's grace to others. I am accepting these things. In my human-ness, I have to admit that I am not happy about it. At this time, I only see the struggles and challenges that Micah will face in the future. As a Momma, I have a hard time with the idea that my child may have to struggle harder than anyone else just to be "socially acceptable" in the world's eyes. But is the Lord still Sovereign? I have to say that yes, He is. It made been in a resigned tone that I say it right now, but I have to admit that He is Sovereign. I have to believe that He is or there is no hope for Micah's future. The Lord must be Sovereign or none of this makes any sense. This doesn't make me any happier about the diagnosis. It doesn't take away the pain in this Momma's heart. But the Lord being Sovereign does give me that glimmer of hope.