A lot of people have said to me, over the past few years, “I don’t know how you do it” or “your job as a parent is really hard.” I won’t get into whether or not those questions are politically correct because to me, they seem perfectly valid.
And I do have an answer, too.
The simple truth is the only thing that gets me through is my faith.
BUT WAIT! I know there are many who’ll stop reading here, but I hope you don’t. I’m not suggesting that “faith” is some simple, over night, easy-peasy solution to everything.
In fact, my journey to where I am now in my faith – a place of strength, comfort, and optimism – was a journey of nearly 2 decades before I even ACCEPTED Christianity. I was raised Catholic, and somewhere along the line, most of my family became born again as Charismatics (only just learned what that meant). To them – and I know they meant it in love – faith meant that by hook or crook or threat or whatever, you HAD to force your children into faith or THEY’D BURN IN HELL FIRE, AND YOU’D SUFFER.
Ouch. It’s harsh when I write it like that, but when I read it back, it’s exactly true. They came from a different age, the age of nuns mutilating your fingers with a wooden ruler, and perhaps some of that was hard to disentangle for their children. I do not blame them any more.
The long and the short of it, though, is that by age 26, I was DONE. God had been taught to me in a manner that made JUST the thought of Him caused me physical pain. I can remember sitting in my studio apartment, doubled over with cramps, crying my eyes out, because maybe God did exist and He was as cruel and as whimsical as everyone had made Him out to be.
Something inside me figured out the equation was wrong. I can’t tell you what it was that day that drove me to my knees, earnestly pleading that if this universe had a good and benevolent Creator, that He would reach out to me, and show me, in a way I could understand, Who and What He was. I prayed those words, and then I did the thing that for years I had been too afraid to do:
I blanked the slate.
I took all the junk, half-truths, misconceptions, lies, manipulations, and more, and tossed them out the window. I was no longer Catholic, no longer courting Christianity, no longer believing in God. Instead, I was waiting for HIm to come and talk with me.
In a very real sense, I was free.
Shortly after this, I toured St. John the Divine Cathedral in Manhattan, a place I’d always wanted to visit. I can’t tell you how hard it was for a person who’s never questioned God’s existence to suddenly be in a such a beautiful place like that with no faith at all. I felt myself stretch over an abyss with nothing beneath me to safeguard me. My soul was cold, and lonely, and yet wracked with fever and pain.
It was definitely a death of sorts, but it was necessary. You cannot erase the slate of the lies on your soul without some real, harsh suffering. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever endured, and it was more terrifying than you can imagine.
For two or three weeks, I lived like this, and right when I had started to accept this might be the end-all of it, a door opened; it was one I did not expect, and one that was not Christian, but sure enough led me to where I am now.
And what does this have to do with being a special needs parent? It’s not just the faith. This process of cleaning a path out and waiting on the right answer, the right choice is something that has served me well. I have had a lot of doubt about following this biomedical path, but all the answers point to the truth being there. Everything I see leads me to believe that if I could just have the patience that I devoted to finding and following the bread crumb trail, that I could have the bravery to charge ahead in spite of my fear, then I might be able to really help Amelia and Zoe have beautiful lives.
And oddly enough, it was called “The Path to Perfection.” Next time, I’ll share my journey on that path, in Faith Journey, Part 2.