My husband Jake and I celebrated eight years of marriage this week and about twelve years of being best friends! I’d say that’s something worth celebrating!
Just like many of you, we have had trials and triumphs, heartbreak and hope, loss and laughter. I was sort of taking inventory of our marriage and our life together the other day and was completely moved to tears of thankfulness for what we have.
I remembered Jake’s sweet proposal and how I was so excited that I almost forgot to say “Yes!” I thought about the priceless look on Jake’s face as he waited for me at the end of the aisle that I walked down to marry my best friend. I thought about our first home that we rented with the questionable, yet very entertaining neighbors. I thought about all of the fun road trips we took just to getaway. I thought about the first home that we bought and how we found out we were pregnant with our first child the same week that we closed on it. I remembered feeling forever changed as we welcomed our precious baby girl into the world. I remembered how the Lord called us into full time Christian camp ministry and we packed up our belongings and moved away to work at a camp for a few years-such an exciting journey. I thought about our miscarriage and what a confusing time that was for us. I thought about the pure joy of having our second child, a boy, and watching our daughter bask in her “big sister” status. I thought about the fog that seemed to settle over us as our son was diagnosed with Autism and as we tried to figure out what that meant for our family…
And then, then I thought about how through all of this, no matter how great times were or how hard, we have never given up. Our marriage is far from perfect, but we have not given up on each other and we have never given up on the Lord. I am so thankful for that. That is something worth celebrating!
And that Autism “fog” I mentioned, I would say we are still in it…but I think that it is lifting ever so slightly with each passing day. We are learning more and more about what it means to be a family with a special needs child. We are finding ways to connect with each other and with others in spite of the fact that our family may be a little “different” from others. We are finding peace in the knowledge that the Lord is in control and that He loves our sweet boy with a love far greater than we could ever comprehend. Some days seem “foggier” than others, but we are holding fast to our faith and to each other.
Over the last two years, I have read enough statistics about Autism to make your head spin. Statistics regarding marriages where there is a special needs child are very depressing. If you take just a quick glance at these statistics you will find figures ranging anywhere from 80%-95% of Special Needs Families end in divorce. That’s a pretty terrifying number.
My family is part of this statistic. We will either choose to fall in the 90% or we will choose to fall in the very small 10%.
I want to be in that 10%. I am not disillusioned enough to believe that it won’t take some very hard work. I am not naïve enough to believe that I won’t have to fight for my marriage. Although blessings abound with having a special needs child, it is still no walk in the park. I know it will take work, I know we will have to fight for our marriage, and I know that unless our marriage is grounded in the Lord, the odds are stacked even more heavily against us.
My challenge to myself and to other parents in our same “Special Needs Family” situation is this: Could we not grow closer to our spouse and closer in our walk with the Lord because of this thing called Autism? Could it not be that this is our very special, God-granted opportunity to draw from the strength and peace that our loving Heavenly Father offers us daily? Could it not be that this is our opportunity as a couple to lean on each other even more as we travel this Autism journey? Let’s be intentional. Let’s be proactive. Let’s be part of that 10%.
One of my greatest prayers is that Jake and I would “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and as we grow closer to the Lord, that we would grow closer together. I pray that years from now we will still be able to boast in the love we have for one another and the love of our Lord that carried us through. That would be something worth celebrating!