Why I started writing
As many of my posts attest, our son’s diagnosis of autism in 2004 was the greatest trauma in my life. Not only did I suddenly learn that my child was disabled; my faith in God had also been “crippled,” too.
I struggled to reconcile Sunday School answers with the gritty realities of Special Needs parenting. For six years, I vented raw, volatile rants into a private journal. In essence, I wrote my own book of Psalms:
WHY GOD?!! HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?
Fast forward six years: My husband and I began leading a support group for special needs parents in 2010. As I became involved in the lives of our Special Adventure families, I was struck by how universal our core struggles were, regardless of diagnosis, ethnicity or socio-economic background.
I shared my struggles, straight up, as well as conclusions I’d reached (or was working towards) with our beloved tribe. In time, it seemed more efficient to localize everything somewhere, in writing, rather than repeating myself ad nauseam with each family, individually.
But what would that mean…?
Please God, don’t send me to Africa. And no book either!
With great dread, I sensed He might be calling me to write a book. What?! Me? Write a book? I never turned a paper in on time throughout my high school and college career. Even today, I struggle with getting bills written out on time. The thought of writing a book was terrifying. Inconceivably ambitious for a flighty and (unofficially) attention-deficit authorial candidate like me.
I effectively buried the idea, and pulled a Jonah. The problem is, well, you know how that story goes. After several unbelievable incidents it became undeniably clear I wasn’t going to escape this assignment. People I never mentioned anything to, would corner me point-blank, “Are you writing a book? You need to write a book.” A relative 400 miles away suddenly gifted me with $1000, “Because I sense that God wants you to write a book.” I felt hunted by figurative Jonah-esque whales for years, until I finally surrendered,
Alright already! I’ll do it…
And honestly, I’d already grown weary trying to escape the burden Maya Angelou calls, “No greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Hence, the concept was born for Faith Rehab: Spiritual Recovery for Special Needs Parents. A devotional to strengthen Special Needs parents, specifically as we weather through the initial season, post-diagnosis, and the inevitable faith crisis that accompanies it. It would be illustrated by my own struggles, all the howling “Why’s??” “Who Me’s??” and “Why Won’t You Fix This’s??”
Wedged in between the daily chaos of autism parenting, family life, and ministering to SN families, it’s been a grueling process of wading through a decade of private ramblings, reformatting and expanding to make them suitable for public viewing.
It’s also been a daily personal battle. As I type, I’m simultaneously slaying demons called Insecurity, Chronic Self-doubt, Obsessive Perfectionism, and a nagging voice constantly whispering over my shoulder, “That’s no good. Who’d want to read that…?”
The ever-present Delete key has been my best friend, crutch, tormentor and worst enemy.
You’re gonna launch a what, now?!
As I drafted Faith Rehab, I also felt compelled to share material more immediately. Books can take up to several years to produce. But if my local SN parent-friends and Joni and Friends Family Retreat friends were any indicator, there were many more of us out there, struggling sight unseen, feeling isolated, alone and beat down. I had spent years mired and depressed in such dark spaces. I couldn’t stand knowing there were more of us, just treading water, spiritually.
So in March of this year (2013), despite being completely ignorant about blogging strategies (or writing, or publishing), I launched this blog to reach out to families and parents outside my local church walls.
My earnest hope is that my grunts and groanings could somehow be redeemed: to comfort other special needs parents with the comfort I received from Christ.
And then there was YOU
Sure enough, those voices of “Who’d want to read your navel-gazing ramblings?! ” continued to roar. Only now, it had two targets. A sense of inadequacy gnawed at me daily,
Delete that whole paragraph. Lame. BORING. Cliche! Who do you think you are, past age 40, to call yourself a writer, blogger or (dare you even say) “aspiring author”? The blogosphere is already saturated with mommy blogs and Special Needs blogs much more experienced than you. Nobody needs another. Why bother?”
I can’t even tell you how torturous a process it’s been (oops. maybe I just did…) Writing is an absolute passion and labor of love. I’m completely sold on it, to be sure. But it’s honestly been indescribably difficult, too. If I can stave off the onslaught of personal demons, maintain focus, and actually produce a finished book in the alloted time, it will be a miraculous coup of God indeed.
But then, there was you. Yes, you reading this right now. Somehow, God led you to this obscure, novice blog floundering in the middle of overcrowded cyberspace. Somehow, we found each other and were able to connect.
Just then, one of you would submit a comment or offline email: heartache over a recent diagnosis, or an inquiry on behalf of a friend’s recent diagnosis. You’d share your personal struggles or latest roller coaster dip with your child. You’d say, “I thought I was the only one. I’m so relieved that I’m not…”
And the fire in my belly would be stoked again. You’ve floored and humbled me with your stories, your tears shed in the privacy of the family minivan, your unspoken fears that you dared not give voice to.
We resonated. We found connection, community and comfort. We felt mutually understood and helped.
And you reminded me that we have to keep pressing on.
No, you’re not the only one. The Enemy succeeded for many years in convincing me we were the only freak-show family in town.
“No one else understands what we were going through. No one can help. No one cares. Just keep quiet and struggle alone in silence. Just fake it til you make it…”
But the Enemy is a liar. We are not alone in this world.
I’m honored to be granted access into your Inboxes, Newsfeeds… into your homes (virtually) and into your hearts. You’ll never know how grateful I am for each of you that read, follow, subscribe, Like or Share these writings. After all, the internet is a very noisy –and sometimes, downright cruel– place. You’ve validated that I’m doing precisely what God set me up to do.
So THANK YOU. Although I’ve never met many of you, and may never meet in person this side of heaven (WordPress tells me you’re spread out over 71 countries?! Seriously?) you’ve no idea how much you’ve encouraged me. It’s as if God knows exactly when I need a fresh injection of hope, a nudge to keep on keeping on.
Thank you for entrusting and inspiring me with your stories, your struggles, your prayer requests. For intersecting the most precious part of your lives with mine.
Thank you for the mind-blowing privilege of being part of your Special Adventure.
May God bless your family as we continue to journey together. I do hope you’ll join me in expanding our remarkable tribe. As C.S. Lewis said, “True friendship is born the moment one says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'” Who else could understand or “get it,” but fellow members of this exclusively inclusive community?
“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…”
With much gratitude,
What about you?
- What are the highs and lows of your 2013?
- What are you looking forward to in the new year?
- What blog topics would you like to see in 2014?
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Glad you joined the blogosphere! God’s up to something big through this disability ministry movement…your experience in 2013 wasn’t an accident.
Thank you so much Dr. G! In COMPLETE agreement. I perceive that, too. Can’t wait to see all He will do to advance the movement foreward in the coming year…
Hi Diane, I want to encourage you to write this book. You have some important things to say and it can be very inspiring to a lot of parents (both SN and not)! I read your blog every week.
Thank you so much Chris! I receive your encouragement gratefully. You’ve bolstered my resolve to keep pressing on — those hypercritical “demons” be damned (quite literally 😉
i can totally relate about the critical voices, but don’t give them any power! i found your blog within a week of finding out my son’s ASD dx. my friend cathy sent me a link almost a minute after. i am so glad for your posts, God has used your words to minister to me during this overwhelmingly heavy and new journey. as i plow through the enormous amount of recommended literature, i find myself asking where God fits in all of this, and how to navigate my soul through this, and yours is among the very few that speaks to this. so please continue to do so!! many thanks!! <3
WOW, Ruth. Thank you so much for your encouragement and confirmation! It’s precisely for dear SN mom-friends like you, that God set this blog in motion 🙂 So grateful for your testimony! Indeed, there is SO much out there to read and absorb, esp. at the early ASD intervention stage. It’s overwhelming. For myself, too, I needed something that ministered to MY soul and spirit, above all else. I’ve found that when my head and heart are ok, everything else falls into place. A mom at peace is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids, amen? God bless you and your family!