My sweet Zeke. Precious child of God. He was born 3 weeks early on a brisk night in October. I didn’t bother to tell my husband I was in labor until midnight because I didn’t think it was real.
And then he was here. 5 lbs, 1 oz. of wriggly tiny old-man-soul cuteness.
Zeke was precious, and had lots of needs. He never slept well, he never ate great, he used his swing until he was 18 months old. He had RSV, pneumonia, and then RSV again…He hated birds chirping and could do without people most days. He didn’t really talk until he started occupational therapy at age 2.
But oh, the sweetness. When he’s happy, you can’t even imagine how happy. He regales us with his funny matter-of-fact stories, he loves lions and Papa and skipped the Duplo stage and went straight to engineering Legos early on.
I always had this deep fear of autism as a young parent. My generation is probably the one made fully aware of autism from the first moment of parenting. I got the message loud and clear that it was painful, difficult, unknown, and a struggle. I thought that with it my child wouldn’t touch me, laugh with me, look at me. I had built misconceptions all up in my mind that fed a fear leaving me praying- “anything but that, Lord. Anything but that…”
And then it came to our house.
By the time Zeke got his diagnosis of Spectrum (Zeke’s form is what they formerly used to call Aspberger’s), I felt freed by it. Here was my beautiful child, a gift from above, with all his quirks, precious to me. It wasn’t anything like I feared. God gave him to me as a gift. What Satan tormented me with in fear, God makes beautiful daily. With Zeke’s diagnosis I can begin to help people understand him and his way of processing the world.
I deeply believe Zeke’s way of seeing the world can teach us so much, if we only take the time to see it.
And isn’t that the way God is. He takes the very thing we feared, the very thing that poked at us and crumpled our hearts, and uses them to take fear from us, to wash the anxiety and build our trust in Him.
God is using Zeke’s testimony already. God has a plan and a purpose, not only for Zeke, but for autistic Zeke, for Zeke’s challenges and his gifts.
Our church is a different place with a little boy who can’t sit in a pew, but prefers to lay in the aisle. Our church is a different place because getting a “hi” from Zeke is something special and you have to work for it a bit. It’s difficult some days, but I’m reminded that other kids and other parents can be encouraged in knowing we all struggle in the world. Zeke’s struggle simply now has a name.
May our churches flourish with these little gifts. Gifts that remind us that God made us all a little bit different, and what God made is always good. May we lift up the differences, celebrate them, and love them in a way that shouts to the world- This is Christ, alive and well, people!
Through a little boy…praising the Lord, in His own way.
Do you have a child who shouts praises to the Lord in his or her own way? I’d love to hear your story.