Beauty for Ashes

You know that therapy exercise (for those who’ve been to therapy, like me–yay therapy #therapyiscool) where they have you examine what you’re feeling, and then step back and examine what you are thinking in association with those emotions? It’s like the amazing human ability to look at our feelings as an observer and tease out why the emotions are occurring, which also gives us the chance to find the holes in our thought patterns and challenge faulty perceptions.

Behold, the human brain. It’s phenomenal and powerful.

Anyway, I have been putting myself through this exercise by observing my feelings regarding Truman’s Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis and the accompanying complications it has wrought on my life.

Here’s what I was feeling, along with the *flawed* perceptions that peopled my thoughts:

  1. Frustration: that everything with Truman takes too long, that he is so particular about foods, that he generally won’t cooperate, that my parenting energy must once again be ratcheted up to match this challenge.
  2. Guilt: that my family has so many specialized needs, that we are a burden to the world.
  3. Anger: that Truman can’t just roll with it.

When I stopped to look at my thoughts behind these negative emotions, it stopped me cold.

I literally subconsciously worry that my unique family is a burden to the world?????

How tragic is that?

When I look at it from an outside/neutral perspective, I think it’s ridiculous.

Last Sunday morning, I read from 3 Nephi, where darkness covers the New World at the time of Jesus’s death. For three days, a tangible darkness permeates the land and can’t be driven away by light. The people literally cannot kindle fire.

I have personally experienced several periods of thick, unrelenting darkness in the last fourteen years.

As I listened to these verses, I saw those dark times as an encapsulation of mortality. My experience validates the theory that life contains inevitable seasons of deep darkness which will persist despite our best efforts to invite or create light around us. Sometimes it is simply going to be dark. The end.

Then I went to church and it was like a real-life manifestation of the rest of 3 Nephi– you know, the part where Jesus’s voice pierces them in the darkness.

This is what I heard, internally:

Truman’s special needs aren’t getting in the way of you living your life. Your family isn’t a burden to the world.

Thank you. Wow. Yes. Did I mention, THANK YOU?

Then this:

Your kids’ needs are giving you and others an opportunity to give consecrated service and grow in empathy. This is the point of life on earth.¬†

You guys, I went from mentally and physically holding onto so much frustration and stress that my right shoulder was completely knotted up in a perpetual pain spasm, to at once being perfectly healed (again) by The Healer. My shoulder stopped hurting. My frustration ebbed. The bitterness seeped out. Those dark emotions left. It was like someone shone a light on my life and instead of madness, I saw beauty.

I saw that I am well equipped to handle Truman’s sensory issues and food neuroses. I know him best. Thanks to the occupational therapy team, I now understand his needs and am viewing them with both clinical neutrality and swelling compassion (don’t ask me how that works). I suddenly saw my efforts to help him do life¬†successfully not as an incredible burden, but as a lovely means of helping someone I love.

This is what Jesus did with the lost sheep, the black sheep, the hurt sheep. He didn’t–doesn’t–see us as a burden. He sees us as the point. We are His purpose. We are the reason and the meaning behind His enormous sacrifice. He’s teaching me to do what He does for me.

And so there it is. Once again, I am empowered by Jesus. He found me in the darkness, humbled by disabilities (yet again). He saw me in meekness brought on by trial, and gently taught me how to face my life.

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