Can I just be honest for a second. This past Sunday I’d had it with my child. HAD it! I was beyond frustrated with the behaviors. We had finally made it to church after weeks of not being there, and I plopped into my seat in the back row, hopeless!
It didn’t matter that we were singing Joy To The World. It didn’t matter that we were lighting another Advent candle. It didn’t matter that everyone was saying Merry Christmas and smiling. Nope. All I could think was my child was completely dysregulated, out of control, and making everyone around him miserable. He was poking his older brother (which is never a good idea!). He was dipping his sticky finger into my wife’s fresh cup of coffee when she wasn’t looking. And he refused stop making growling noises, particularly in between songs, when the soft-spoken worship leader spoke.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Our church shares a renovated building with a local micro-brewery and I was seriously considering ditching service and heading next door for an early communion. Not kidding!
Now I know, my child can’t help this behavior. He has an FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) which causes [sometimes] extreme behaviors. I know this because I teach this all year long, across the country. I know this because it’s my job to help parents understand. I know this because, well, he’s my child and I know him. This was anxiousness brought on by some kind of trigger that happened before we pulled into the church parking lot. Believe me, I was walking myself through those key questions we teach parents to ask themselves just as much as anyone!
And I know this isn’t him. This isn’t his heart. Can I just say that right here? I love this kid deeply. There wasn’t a moment this past Sunday when I felt a lack of love for him. Not once. But my frustration and weariness were clouding up my perspective.
“Get me out of this place!” was all I could think. I didn’t even care that I hadn’t been to church in several weeks. I just wanted to retreat to my house where at least the world couldn’t see this 3-ring circus.
And in that moment of complete and utter hopelessness, something flashed through my mind. It was a picture I had taken a few weeks back while in Tlaxcala, Mexico with my daughter’s school choir. It was the picture you saw when you opened this post. You probably wondered why in the world I would post a picture of an unfinished roof in a post like this right? Allow me to explain…
As we drove back and forth through the streets of beautiful Tlaxcala, we kept noticing that most of the buildings had roofs like the one in the picture above. Unfinished with rebar sticking up into the air. Even really nice buildings looked like this. To be honest, it was kind of tacky. It kind of detracted from the gorgeous landscape surrounding the village. A few other chaperones and myself commented on this and wondered why in the world so many buildings were left “unfinished?” And then one night, after the students were with their host families, several of us sat in a restaurant with a local woman who had lived just outside of the downtown area for several years. She explained something about the “unfinished buildings” that moved us deeply.
“Some people would see the rebar sticking up out of roofs and think it was a waste,” she explained. “But to us, it means there is hope. By leaving the rebar exposed, the owner is saying they believe there is hope for more!”
There is hope for more. The work isn’t finished. There’s still much left to build and grow! How perfectly, beautifully, and amazingly accurate is that when it comes to our children? There is hope for more. Their story isn’t finished yet. What is happening with them now, doesn’t define their future. Our child’s behavior isn’t the end of the story, there is so much more to come.
Yeah I was pretty frustrated with my child this past Sunday. I felt hopeless that his behavior was ever going to improve. But I had to remind myself that he suffers through past trauma that often renders him helpless in anxious situations. More than that though, I had to remind myself that he has amazing amounts of hope. Hope for a very bright future. His story isn’t over. He’s not finished growing. At times I may feel hopeless, but that does not mean it’s true. I must believe there’s more.
I have hope for more!
Have you struggled to believe there is hope for your child? Share your story with us in the comment section below.