Psalm 34:7 – I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (NASB – as referenced in “59 Bible Verses for Families of Autism”)
Recently, the South Carolina Autism Society’s annual “Strides for Autism” Walk occurred. This Upstate event is to raise awareness and help families with Autism services through fundraising. My ongoing partnership as a Realtor called Gibson Gives Back encouraged participation as a team leader. What began with 4 members (me and my three boys) was an undertaking since my husband’s trip to Alabama meant managing all three boys on my own.
Asking for money is not my thing. Besides real estate, I have no desire to sell anyone anything (expect items on infomercials…I would totally do this, but I digress). Publicizing and team building was not something I truly wanted to do, but I believe in this cause and wanted to do my part. I set a goal of $500 as a team, having no clue if that was attainable. The first amount I contributed from a Real Estate closing. Then my parents contributed without me even asking. I was well on my way to having a little less than half of the goal met, but I did not expect any more.
Though my Real Estate company often supports local charities, I was past the deadline for receiving designated monies. As a non-top-10-producing Realtor in my company, I certainly was not well-known enough for co-workers to give toward my cause and sharing 5 minutes in sales meeting would not possibly communicate urgency of need. No expectations there.
“Marketing” to my church was also out. Not wanting anyone to give out of compulsion because I am the music minister’s wife, I simply shared about my team on social media and assumed amid a building project most people would not consider giving generously to a non-religious organization above weekly contributions and a new building campaign. I did not expect much support there either. Melancholy? Yes.
Besides immediate family, no additional family knew I was doing this. I did not recruit friends or mention on my blog. I did not campaign to strangers. I just used Facebook with the simple thought – please let me make $500. Risking embarrassment, I needed to at least make my goal!
By the day of the walk, my 42-member team (!!!) won biggest team! As we crowded for pictures, I realized amazing people from work and church took a Saturday to attend in the humid Carolina sunshine, not to mention even more people who gave willingly and sacrificially outside the walk. Friends and family gathered their little ones in strollers, teaching their children about valuing one another despite differences. Not only were we the biggest team, we raised the most money…almost $1500 (nearly tripling my team goal) – an obvious testament not to my optimistic attitude, but the generosity of others!!!
Its own special blessing – the largest part of this group was my church. Looking back on heavy pre-diagnosis days, hard conversations, and apologies I have given for protective, vocal moments brought waves of emotion. Times I have forgiven harshness, to now arrive with this group of people surrounding me, giving generously for no other apparent purpose than showing grace and love to me and my family – I am humbled – as I am constantly tempted to become detached.
Detachment is easier than connection, which is messy, sometimes hurtful and requires investment. Detachment is private. It is easy to make yourself look better when you are unwilling to make your life available to the scrutiny of others. Detachment is empty. It will not cause you to grow, or change, or make you concede your will for another – that’s why it is tempting.
Therefore, the Body of Christ is the perfect group for overcoming detachment. A committed Christian friend will require more of you than someone else, will call into question not just your actions but your motives too, and will call you into community even when your life is a wreck. They will even love you in uncomfortable times in public demonstrations of support like walking in 90-degree heat for a cause that does not directly affect them, just because it affects you.
So when those days look like you are living in a land of devastation and chaos, much like they look in a family with Autism, the church gives us a glimpse into better days. When every week is full of griefs in special needs parenting, stressful news of your child’s behavior in classes and therapies, or concerns of what the future holds, it is nice to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I am thankful for all who walked with me, but I am especially thankful to those believers in Christ Jesus who link arms with me and help me keep stride toward the land of forever living. For this, I have waited and continue to wait on the Lord.