By Lori Peters
“There is something wrong with your son.” This is what I was hearing from my son’s pediatrician on the other end of the phone. Wait! I had been asking doctor after doctor the past eighteen months about my son’s delays and had only been brushed off as a hypersensitive first-time mom. “He’s a boy; he’ll catch up.” That is what I was told time and time again. Now something is “wrong” with my son? This could not be true.
I could possibly have a child with special needs. That was crazy. I lived a good life. I was a good girl. I went to a Christian college. I went to seminary. I had committed to full-time ministry. Having played the rules, I thought I should receive a blessing and fulfillment of a long-awaited dream.
I was completely numb. I did not even remember hanging up the phone. However, my denial did not last very long. My act-first-process-later intuition kicked in after about two days. I was online researching every specialist, doctor, and therapist. If there was something wrong with my son, I was going to correct it. The doctors and specialists could not agree on a diagnosis, but that did not stop me.
At that time autism was just gaining ground, and there were all kinds of labels and diagnosis. My son immediately began early intervention. I found the best treatments in the Washington, DC, area and moved in for weeks at a time with my cousin so I could commute every day with my son for treatment. I found the best therapists and used them to find local therapy providers. I was implementing special diets, getting chelation, and my boy even withstood seventy-five injections in one day to desensitize him from certain allergens.
I was told by the best of the best, “He is going to be fine.” But just to make sure, I called the elders of my church to pray over us. Of course, I was going to make sure God was in all of this while orchestrating everything here on earth. God would certainly provide for me the miracle I was asking for, wouldn’t he? What better way for God to receive glory than to heal my son. I would certainly shout if from the mountaintops and be the poster child for God’s goodness and faithfulness.
I was assured that by the time my son reached about the age of six he would be developmentally caught up within normal limits. My eye was on the goal, and I would not fail.
Age six, then seven, then eight, and those normal limits were not being met. I would tell God, “Okay, I am ready for that miracle. I am ready for the desire of my heart to be fulfilled. I’ve put a team of the very best of the best together. I just need you to do your part, and that time would be about now.” But nothing changed.
And then it happened. I crashed and burned. For six solid years I’d done everything humanly possible to get to the goal, and I was no closer that I had been at the beginning. I prayed, I believed, I claimed verses, and yet my son was still his unique self – and my hope left. I sat in desperation in his bedroom for hours one afternoon praying verse after verse, and still nothing. God was not listening to me. He went silent.
No one could fully understand the depth of pain I was feeling. I was given many verses in which to hold fast to. If one more person told me that God created special women to be mothers of special needs children, I was going to scream. My Jersey Girl was about to be unleashed. I had relied on that crazy combo of Irish/Jersey strength to get me through everything, but this time it failed.
Actually, God failed me, at least that was what my heart believed. Why wasn’t He answering me? What had I done to deserve His silence and such deep pain? What did I do to be treated this way? I fell into a deep depression. I lost all belief to have a normal life. I lost all desire to be a mom. I lost all sight of God and His goodness, and I just wanted to sleep forever.
Through the quick intervention of friends and family, I was given the opportunity for treatment at a Christian counseling center. My presence caused a bit of a problem, as I was a counselor and could out-counsel many. But the program director agreed to take me on and lovingly challenged my thinking. He shed new light on several issues I was facing and pointed me back to a loving Heavenly Father who heard every word, knew every emotion, felt the depth of my pain, and held every tear in the palm of His hand. He never left me, nor had He forsaken me.
I had trust issues. Wait! I have trust issues. (This was not a one-and-done experience.) I am a continual work in progress. I learned quickly the close partner of “lack of trust” is “need to be in control.” I did not trust God to work out His plan in this situation – I only trusted myself and hence took complete control. I focused on my goal and stopped listening for His guidance and direction for His perfect plan. However, as many of us may know, in Jeremiah 29:11 we are promised God’s plan to give us hope. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
But sometimes understanding God’s plan can be so hard and hope seems to be an unattainable feeling. When His plan is not clear and pain is involved, I have a hard time surrendering to it, especially when I believe He has gone silent. However, if we continue reading, we are told in verses 12-14, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” I went running ahead and left God behind. What I desperately needed was to find God in the midst of my turmoil and heartbreak – not run from Him.
Lori’s contact information: website: lorijpeters.com, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, IG: @lorijpeterswriter FB:lorijpeterswriter
Bio: Lori is a speaker, consultant counselor, writer, and professor at The George Washington University. Lori comes with 25 years’ experience leading and teaching in the non-profit sector and currently owns her own business development firm and works on a consultative bases. She has done extensive international development work primarily in Ghana, West Africa for over 13 years. She as a passion for advocating and promoting equality, inclusion, and justice for the disadvantaged. Lori has her Bachelor of Science, Masters in Counseling Psychology, Masters in Non-profit Management, and Masters in Public Management. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership. She is the mother of two adult children and two golden retrievers residing in the Philadelphia, PA suburbs.