Thursday, July 13, 2017

Guest Post By Joel Yates

Below is a guest post from my boyfriend, Joel.

Autism, hmm.  That's those little puzzle pieces, right? I see a lot of autism stickers plastered on the back of minivan windows waiting in line at McDonald's or at a traffic light. A sister of a girl I know had a child born with autism and they participate in a walk every year for her to bring awareness to it. Yet, I was still visibly very unaware of it.
I install flooring for a living and sometimes customers would mention that they have a child with autism and that their child was fine until they received their shots.  Other than those rare occasions it was just something that wasn't even real to me.  Yet when I first heard that word it didn't have any significance or meaning to my life at all. I've never met a child with autism. So my first reaction was fear because I just didn't know what to expect.
What am I about to get myself into?
"Nothing will more effectually preserve us in a straight and undeviating course, than a firm persuasion that all events are in the hand of God."
John Calvin
This is the beginning of my journey with a loved one with autism.
I whole heartily believe that God is in total control. He's the sovereign over all of us.  My faith is very firm and my hope is embedded in His promises that are found in His holy word and His providence. Yet, when I first met Trenton, like any person lost or saved, I asked that looming question I believe everyone asks, "Why God?"  Why would this handsome little boy, who looks like any other healthy 6-year-old child live a life with his type of challenges?
The more I watched his mannerisms and his daily routines, the more I began to break inside. I literally felt my heart shattered into a thousand pieces the first few hours. I couldn't even imagine hearing this news from a doctor that my child would live a life with autism and the challenges that come with the diagnosis and this was coming from an outsider with nothing invested in this child, yet. I'm a man, we like to fix things, and I was totally helpless.
Next, I felt sorry for him. I am sure this is a common reaction from most people. I soon found myself saying three little words, "this isn't fair." Those words kept bouncing around in my head, over and over throughout my visit with him. After my first day with Trenton, as I knelt down beside my hotel bed before I retired for the night, I prayed for this young man. "Why God?" entered my mind again.   As I wiped the tears away from my eyes, the book of Job began to press upon my heart.

Job 38:4-7
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line
upon it?

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Like Job, I needed an attitude adjustment and I believe all of us in life come to this point.  We need to be put back in a right position of where we stand with God. We also do this at times with our own children as God did with Job, when they needed their attitudes adjusted as well. So we too ask them questions?
Where were you when the light bill needed to be paid. Or where were you when I spent 300 dollars on groceries this week? Where we you when your clothes needed to be washed?
Sometimes we forget how blessed we truly are and forget that everything we have from the air in our lungs to the clothes we wear is all created by a Creator, God, who takes pleasure in using His creation for His glory. It's all being worked out for our good to those who are called of God. I know that is not easy to see when facing a difficult situation in life in the present moment, but faith is trusting Him through all circumstances this life brings upon us. I know this doesn't answer why God makes some children different, but the book of Job is a great place to start if you feel God is being unfair.

Now, let me rewind my story back to the very start of all things where my journey first began with the “word” autism.
I was never a huge fan of online dating sites. That's not me. It will never work. I'm more old fashioned and believe in meeting in the ordinary daily routine of life. Yet, a friend suggested I join Christian Mingle and that is where I came across Angela Tackitt. When I first saw her pictures I was intrigued. She and her two boys looked just like any normal American family. Besides seeing her decked out in St Louis Cardinals apparel, as me being a Cincinnati Reds fan, it could have possibly been love at first sight. Just kidding☺
Her family looked like any other family until I read her bio and it said. "I have a son, who has Autism. At that time I just joined so I had many messages being a new subscriber. I  told myself I wasn't going to get a paid membership to be able to talk to someone. I wasn't going to do that unless I was blown away by someone. I read through tons of profiles but I kept coming back to hers and I'm still not sure why.  She wasn't the typical girl I would usually try to date, but I kept feeling an urge to try to talk to her. So I first sent her a smile which is the way off breaking the ice and never expected her to send me a message back. She wrote me. I wrote back and the rest is history.
We connected instantly and our faith in God helped make the transition much easier. It's really like I've known her my whole life now. She had mentioned she had written a book in one of our first conversation to one and another, Two Brothers One Journey. So I thought I do some reconnaissance on her and search her online. To my surprise, a lot of pages popped up and the one I clicked on was a YouTube video of her. She was sitting in her car crying over a tough day she had with Trenton, reading one of the chapters out of her book trying to remind others it's going to be ok. What selflessness, I thought. I have a 9-year-old daughter whose mother left her at 3 months and totally walked away for good at 13 months.  Needless to say, selflessness is definitely an attribute of hers that really tugged at my heartstrings. I could tell God was using this woman who had been put in a tough predicament in this life to help others who may be facing this all alone without God. Who may  need to hear a few simple words of encouragement like, it's going to be ok. I did it, so can you.
Then the man who said he'd be there through forever and worst didn't hold up his end of the bargain and left her to fight this battle alone. Even through all these trails, she is still praising God even when it's still so very hard, but through this life, God is conforming her more and more each passing moment into Jesus Christ…….. Into a strong Christian woman…….. Into the true definition of motherhood and its beautification……..Into a true and unshakable testimony
Angela and I had been talking for well over a month and I've yet to meet Trenton. She was so scared I was going to run for the hills as soon as I did.
Needless to say as soon as the opportunity arose for me to take a couple days off of work in order for me to  drive to Terre Haute and meet Trenton, I did. I arrived  around lunch time and Trenton was at his therapy. I  was a little on edge during the van ride to first pick Trenton up at the therapy center. When I get nervous I make jokes. So I tried my very best to keep Angela laughing. It's not that hard though when you have Andrew in the van because you just never know what he's going to say next. When we arrived at his therapy place, she went in to pick him up. As I waited for her to return with Trenton, I found myself fidgeting with anything around me. I was definitely nervous, but as soon as he got in and looked around the seat at me it was just like any other child without the ability to communicate.
I just didn't know what to expect or what his capabilities were. I know it took a ton of work to get Trenton where he is today. A large majority of my observations are coming as an outsider who couldn't hold a candle to what most families of children with autism have gone through to get to the point they are at today.
I personally just want to encourage other men or women that if you meet a person who is single and raising a child with autism, it doesn't have to be a burden. Instead, it can be a blessing because of how God is molding these individuals.
When we finally arrived back at Angela's house she warned me he'll probably be very distant at first towards me and Alee, my daughter. Yet, as soon as I walked in the door Trenton came straight up to me and put both of his arms on each of my shoulders. I felt like he was sizing me up, but Angela reassured me this was his way of saying hello. She was surprised at how well he first reacted around me and it made me feel like I belonged.  Trenton was now breaking the ice with his own smile. After our special moment,  he went 100 mph until bed time.
The next day he grabbed my hand and took me to the trampoline. We jumped for what seemed like hours and I soon realized how out of shape I was, but it was worth it. He grabbed both my hands, looked me in my eyes and smiled right at me while we were in the trampoline. I definitely noticed his lack of eye contact. I learned a lesson that day and it was not to take things for granted. My daughter tells me she "loves me" one million times a day. I value her saying it but there are times that I simply don’t say it back to her. After being around Trenton that day it made me realize that Angela would do anything just to hear that from him one time. Sadly, there I am taking moments like those for granted.
I found that I could handle most things on that first day. The only thing I had issues was when he had an accident in his pants and needed changed. At that moment, I tucked tail and ran screaming for Angela.
We had our fun times together. I chased him around the living room for about thirty minutes until I collapsed and then he jumped on my back and he rode around on me like a cowboy. Angela said he really enjoyed that.  All the other little things such as his eating routines and why he needs the certain medications that he takes is all new to me.

However, one small thing was so noticeable with him. He was a very smart young man. At one point in the day, he was digging through a tote of DVDs and he made sure that each DVD was in its right case. He happened upon a DVD that didn't have a case. He  immediately got up, went into his mother’s room, and reached under something and pulled the DVD case out. I was so shocked he could remember where that individual case was for that DVD that he left there. I’m not sure a typical 6-year-old kid  could remember that well?

We all have our challenges in certain areas and most of us have more challenges than Trenton. Trenton will never know what it’s like to feel the peer pressure of dressing in designer clothes or what it’s like to be addicted to alcohol or drugs and the devastation that can cause. He is pure in so many areas from sin that we can only dream to be. Sometimes our disabilities are more often accepted in society as normal and we say he isn't? Hmm, ponder on that for a while. After my first visit with Trenton, most of my fears were now long gone.
The unknown is yet still very scary and tomorrow isn't here yet, but with God, I know I can handle anything life throws at me. Will it always be easy? No that's what I told Angela one day in one of our personal emails; I told her
But didn't God give you an autistic kid for a reason? Not to be a burden, but a blessing in this life. You know first-hand life with an autistic kid is going to be very hard. It's always going to be a struggle and a battle. If I marry you I will be in the van just as much as you will be in the church with alee and Andrew.  What is a good life? Easy, comfortable, no problems?  No, a good life is being married and spending every day together through the good and the bad times. Praising God together even when everything seems to be caving in, but we got each other and it's always enough. We will learn from each other. Nothing is easy in life. You think losing a mother is easy? You think raising a 3-month girl on your own is easy? Yes, I had sleep deprivation also for the first 2 years not to your extent but guess what that made me the man, I am today. The man you have grown to love and that's the reason Alee is the way she is today because of my hard work, sacrifice, and commitment: the same that you have also made. It's tough to raise normal kids.  I won't even pretend to understand what you been through, but GUESS WHAT ANGELA I WANT TO GO THROUGH ALL THAT WITH YOU BECAUSE I FREAKING LOVE YOU. BRING ON ANYTHING LIFE CAN THROW AT US AS LONG AS WE CAN FACE IT TOGETHER!!!!!

Life at times can be unimaginably hard and seem unfair.  Life seems like this especially when you feel you're facing it all alone and carrying this burden all on your own, but God doesn't want us to face those burdens without Him.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall
find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


He wants to have a relationship with each of his children and that's why he established the family first, so we wouldn't be alone. We'd have each other to lean upon when at times God can feel so far away.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)


Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
We all know there are so many bad things that transpire in life. At least we label them bad because we simply can't understand with our finite minds in that present moment that they are for our good. God hasn't promised that everything that happens to us will be good, but has promised that everything that happens to us will work out for our good.

Jacob couldn't see the providence of God when he asked, "And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me." But if you read on through scripture none of those things were against Jacob.
Here is our problem; most of us never look past today. We don't see the future or wish to see the future beyond our own measures of temporal success. We're more interested in these temporary feelings of pleasure in our present moment than the sweet by and by promised to those who are in Christ. We are not generational oriented like the men and women of scripture. We have to rest on one simple truth, if we are going to walk pleasing unto the Lord we must walk in faith. Walking in faith refers to God's promises and His Providence. We must believe whatever happens to us is going to ultimately manifest for our good and His glory.  Why? Because God is in control.  He's sovereign. He works everything out. It's our responsibility to trust in him. Submit to Him. To lean upon Him. To have confidence in Him. It's His part to work everything out.
"Duty is ours. Consequences are God's."
General Stonewall Jackson
Faith pleases God and we can't please him unless we believe in His person, His promises, and His providence.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen.
Our hope is in Him. Our evidence is in His Word and His providence. Beyond God, there is no other. This doesn't mean we will never have dark days or that there won't be difficult and tough times. It doesn't mean there will be times we won't be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel or face trails so difficult that we question if we even have the strength to push through. However, in those dark and tremulous times, we must still trust in God, His Promise, and His providence. Even when we break down and admit to our Lord that we don't understand. .....or that we can't see how He can work this out. Sometimes we don't see how this is going to manifest to our glory and to our good one day. However, we must trust the Lord. Even in this darkness and in my ignorance I'm going to lean upon you …and trust that you already have this worked out.  If we are going to ever walk with the Lord we must walk in faith because without faith it's impossible to please him.

I can't tell you why Trenton is the way he is. All I know it that God has a purpose for all this and he's working it out in the counsel of His own will for His glory and our good. All we can do is trust him and that's the root of faith.

This is the beginning of my journey to autism. Now I pray that by God's grace it may become a story of: Two
Families, One journey.


Trenton and I hanging out on the couch together on our first visit with each other.

5 comments:

  1. INSPIRATIONAL!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an uplifting and spiritually charged post! All I can say is...Amen!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a blessing to have someone by your side that will help fill a puzzle piece in for you..someday you will see how all His pieces fit..thank the Lord for knowing the finished portrait and for sending you someone to join on this journey . Angela you are a blessing to many as is your family .

    ReplyDelete