But autism shows up, habitually changing the normal into chaos for my kids.
Lights become nagging and painful, friendly chatter becomes an echo chamber, the hubbub of bodies is claustrophobic, and decorations are a dizzy swirl. All are distressing at best and painful at worst for our daughter.
It is unbearable for Izaiah and having spent most of 2016 regressing, it became impossible for Izaiah to enter this house of God.
Since I had failed at the duplicitous feat of entering the building with Ashi while not entering the building with Izaiah, I had no choice but to employ Daddy to help. (As if he were not already employed somewhere else, namely his Jay Oh Bee, but such is life with autism.)
Back inside the church, the students scuttle off to classrooms. I tag along with Ashi to assist her in class. The pandemonium abandons the foyer, leaving it sedated and lifeless.
Once my husband receives the 'all clear' he brings our son inside the hushed space. Izaiah meanders about, exploring the cavernous expanse with Daddy in tow for safety and camaraderie.
Their adventures were secrets until Izaiah shared one with me this Christmas Season.
Izaiah insistently tugged my hand until I reluctantly went with him. I was anxious, asking, "this? Is this what you want to show me? Here? Is this where you want to go?" I spotted a sofa he might want to posture on or perhaps he fancied a young girl's hair to stroke. But my guesses were all wrong. A typical failure with a non-verbal child.
He pulled me along looking back at me. His sweet face had an ambitious countenance. He was aware, he was determined, and he knew something I didn't.
We bobbed and weaved through chatting people and cut paths through mazes of furniture. It thinned and he confidently hauled me through a corridor, then a doorway. Then he stopped. We were there.
My mouth gaped open and I stared before me. Then at him. He was already awaiting my expression, my reaction, wondering:
"Do you love it, Mommy? Are you surprised? Look what I discovered! Isn't it amazing, Mommy! Come! It's beautiful, like you. Sit with me, Mommy. Are you proud of me?"
Yes! It all came together. I understood. His insistence, his expressions, his motions, his heart!
My eyes welled with tears that would not be held back. Izaiah took my hand and we remained seated on a soft pew in the sanctuary. He wanted me to appreciate it the way he did. He kept checking my expression, my approval, my level of awe.
We sat in the peace of the sanctuary. We could hear nothing outside the room. It was so still, the silence had its own sound. Even my dropping tears quietly obeyed. It felt Holy.
We were enveloped by massive and exquisite stained glass windows announcing the powerful story of Christ. I was overwhelmed by Mary holding her baby boy, unaware of the struggles her son would endure. The elegant Christmas decor swallowed us entirely and the Christmas tree on the shiny, marble altar extended straight to Heaven.
I smiled at Izaiah through weeping eyes and thanked him repeatedly for sharing his majestic sanctuary with me. Over and over I communicated how thankful I am to have such a loving and kind son who recognizes such beauty and desires to share it with me.
We hugged each other tight and held hands and we prayed together.
This moment was enough to fill the gaping holes autism has dug into me and scarred me with this year. The whole moment is a sanctuary in my heart and mind and I've been there often since, to soothe my soul.
He uses the words 'we' and 'our' and 'us' as he confesses the sin of Israel, that is, he includes himself. Even in verse 20 he says he was confessing 'my' sin referring to himself.
This was during the Babylonian captivity and nowhere in the book of Daniel do we learn how he sinned or what his sins were. Instead we only see Daniel as an incredible strong pillar for God as an adolescent boy straight into his very old age. Even so, he confesses his sin. I can promise you, if Daniel confessed his sin, you and I need to as well and to stand in front of our LORD defending ourselves is to slap the face of God.
There is one who kept every commandment and that was Jesus. He was the innocent lamb, led to the slaughter for the sin of all of us. When we repent, that is turn from our ways to follow Him, we do not return to our sin and we do not justify our sin, but we begin our journey of becoming Christlike. Becoming Holy. God doesn't care if we are happy. He wants us to be Holy.
The best any person can say of himself is that he is Saved. To rest in this is Sanctuary.