Sunday is such an important day for me - it's a family day, it's a relaxing day, and it's usually a Church day. I feel so at home when I go to Church, and today, with the help from a friend, we got to go to Church as a family. Well, almost a family.
While the rest of us go, Ronan will be at home. He will be safe, he will be happy, and will be comfortable. He won't join us yet, but instead of having to split up and go to different Masses, my husband and I will get to sit together at Church with most of our happy crew. The last time we were able to do that was almost six months ago.
We're still working on getting all 7 of us to Mass. But until Ronan can handle it, we'll leave him in capable hands for the hour that we are away. I'm praying that he'll be able to with us soon. As I pray, I will remember the types of prayers I'd written about a few years ago...
ACTS, originally posted on the AO blog February 2010:
I joined a faith-based mom's group just a few weeks ago. I needed too. I had been moving like a robot for some time trying to keep up with my family's full calendar. I hated that. I started to show emotions that would pop up at the worst times. Like when I was being the cranky, yelling, hurry up get your shoes on because we have to leave NOW stressed out Mom. I was also the weepy can't get anything done right Mom while crying in the car in between appointments as I anticipate another busy day with no chance to rest. That hasn't happened more than a few times, but when I started to get completely overwhelmed with life in general, I noticed one aspect of life was being pushed aside almost completely: praying.
In order to get a grip on life, I needed to learn how to let go of, or at least learn how to handle, some of the daily stresses. I needed to not live in my four walls that were quickly caving in but instead go out and find something specific for me. It's not a selfish 'must have' but a desperate 'need to' survive. I stumbled upon the mom's group at a parish I pass on the way to my son's school. I barely have a chance to do more than attend Mass at my own parish on Sundays, so I welcomed being a part of a like-minded group of moms looking for religious enrichment. It helped that they offered day care at a very nominal fee, so I signed me and the kids up for a few-months long study of praying. While Ronan is doing his best with his instructors at school, I get to stop, listen and believe again.
We're studying a book about prayer. Don't get me wrong, I know how to pray. I do it all the time and sometimes over and over and over again all day long, God, puh-leeeze help me. Lord, why is this so hard? I haven't shaken my fist up toward Heaven but I do raise my eyes in absolute amazement that I have been handed all that I have been handed. I look down at the utter chaos that is my home and shake my head wondering why I can't put it all back together. I was hoping to breathe a more joyous breath of prayer instead of the woeful words I have been using. Luckily this last week's chapter talked about four specific types of prayer, and I knew it was perfect for what I needed.
I have a dream of one day being able to do some public speaking about our journey with Ronan. I have helped a lot of people along the way but it's usually in the comfort of my home and in my jammies at my computer. Many people in return have helped me with encouraging emails, helpful websites and even a handful of phone calls that adds a personal, human touch.
If I could stand up and say thank you to all of those people in this community who have touched my life, these four types of prayers (using the acronym ACTS) would help me with my speech. I would speak from the heart while scanning the crowd as I shared the following. Even though my words would be specifically directed to God, I have a feeling many parents of children with autism or other special needs would echo the same thoughts. So, here goes. This is for you and for you, and you, and you and You:
Adoration: Dear God, I adore You for all that I have been given. On my worst days, when things are at the lowest, lowest, low, I know that things can only improve. For that, I am amazed and so totally grateful. How did you know that I would learn to be so strong to do and deal and overcome? Even if I doubt myself for a second, You show me how much You love me when You entrusted me with this child. My past may have lead me on a path yet unknown to me but You have provided direction for the future just when I need it. I am humbled to be here.
Confession: Dear God, I'm scared to death! I am so afraid of the future! I see other children make their leaps and bounds, their gains and their recoveries, but I am terrified that my own child will regress or become aggressive, and worse, even die from this! I fall short when I give up. I feel weak when I don't believe. I am sorry for the despair I feel, and I promise to do better and to try to keep more hopeful instead.
Thanksgiving: Dear God, Where do I begin? I am surrounded my many parents and providers who believe in Ronan. They even believe in me! These people happen to walk into my life at a point when I may have been on my knees begging You for help. You knew that I needed that. These people have helped me form the hero who is my son. Thank You for this chance to be a better person and to be a loving Mom to this child, Your creation...Ronan!
Supplication: Dear God, I know that Your plan for our lives is already written. You know what my future will be. You know how Ronan will fare in this life and in the next. I ask for continued guidance, for patience and for resources to learn, to grow, and to help. For Ronan, I ask for clear speech, cognition, and healing from whatever pain he is in. I ask for continued blessings for our family as we all learn to work and help Ronan with his special needs. His siblings are growing up with more compassion than most other children their age. I pray they will only have compassion for Ronan and for other children like him. Please, God, bless the other families who are walking this same journey and give them hope as You have given mine. Together, we will believe.
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.
I pray daily. Some days, it feels like I pray non-stop. You know my prayer: for Ronan, for his healing and recovery. If you have specific intentions for your child, let me know. I would love to add them to our family's daily prayers.