We, as men, tend to want to try to fix things. The kitchen sink is broken, we fix it. Is the car making a funny noise? Fix it. Problems at work? We’re not scared to tackle it. But what if, for some reason, an issue came up and you couldn’t fix it? What would you do then?
This spring, I experienced a problem I couldn’t “fix.” It wasn’t mechanical, electrical, or work-related. It was human-related, specifically, related to me. It concerned my daughter.
My wife and I had received the news we had been expecting for quite some time: our daughter was diagnosed with autism. We had thought about it for several years, but the pandemic lockdown had made it more prominent in her personality.
Over the years, several trained doctors told us she was not autistic, but WE knew she was. NO ONE knows a child better than their parents. So when we received the official diagnosis, it still hit us hard. Our lives had changed in an instant.
Although my wife and I have extensive experience (40+ years combined) working with people with special needs, raising a special needs child, 24/7 is much different from working with them for a few hours each day. The people we had worked with already had services to help them, and we provided some of those services. We had never had the task of getting services started for someone from square one.
The reality was, I couldn’t “fix” my daughter. It took a village to take care of all of her needs. Her autism affects her socially and emotionally. She has “meltdowns” where she screams and runs around. Sometimes they last minutes, and other times they last close to an hour. They happen at home and out in public, whether it’s at church, a store, restaurant- wherever and whenever.
Finding God in the Valley’s we can’t fix
I’m not really looking for sympathy. I’m just explaining our situation. Everyone is going through something, and it’s all relative to your experiences and individual situations. But where do I and others find God in this whole experience?
Philippians 3:10 probably says it best.
“I want to know Christ- yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
I heard a preacher say recently that we all want to take part in the salvation and resurrection with Jesus, but do we want to share in his sufferings? It is in our sufferings is when we’re the closest to Jesus we can get.
Think about when things are going well, the mountaintop experiences. Now, think about the valleys in your life: death of a family member and friends, loss of jobs, divorce, abuse, etc. I know I would sure put autism down in the valley. It doesn’t change my love for my daughter any, but it does indeed change things. But, unfortunately, it’s something I can’t “fix.”
But if we could fix everything that goes wrong, what would be the need for salvation, grace, mercy, and Jesus on the cross? If we can fix everything ourselves, why have fellowship with other Christians?
If we could handle everything on our own, what’s the purpose of relationships, period? As we are in the valley now, I know that there are still good experiences back on the way up to the mountaintop. We celebrate small victories each day with our daughter, whether it’s a good outing to the store, a big hug from her, or her making a choice independently.
It’s the same way in our relationship with Jesus. There are days in the valley: doubt, temptation, sin, and loneliness, and there are mountaintop victories, answered prayers, time with good friends, a good health report. A true relationship with Jesus- like marriage, work, church- has valleys and mountaintops. But it takes both to make the relationship work.
Beau lives in Cave City, KY. He’s been married to his wife for 19 years, and they have a young daughter together. He has a passion for working with people with special needs and serving at his church.