When It’s Just Too Hard
“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.” Psalm 105:4 (NASB)
It was too late. There was no turning back now. The meltdown had begun, and once it starts, there is no stopping it, much less controlling it. Like so many other special-needs parents of children with autism who have severe meltdowns, I did what I needed to do to get him to his room to calm down. That meant putting my own self in harm’s way as his body raged out of control. It meant holding his door closed until he calmed himself down enough so I could go back in. Once he started to cool off, I went in and wrapped him in his weighted blanket and pulled him to my lap on the floor while I squeezed him as tightly as I could. He was crying. I wanted to, but knew I couldn’t because it would only upset him more. When it was all over, he resumed life as normal and went back to scripting Star Wars with his lightsaber. And then I fell apart.
My closet, the van, the bathroom, and the arms of my husband are all places of refuge I’ve sought after weathering severe meltdowns. Sometimes I just sit, shocked and traumatized. Other times the dam bursts and I cry to myself or to my mom or a friend over the phone as they listen to me grieve. I hate that my son can’t completely regulate his emotions and that autism takes over and transforms him in an instant. I hate that I can’t make it stop. HE hates that he can’t make it stop, and I hate that.
There are days when it’s just one thing after another, and by the end of the day, I am completely drained. I have no more to give. I’m empty. It’s gone. It’s all gone. I tell my exhausted self, “His mercies are new every morning” and go to bed, hopeful for a good day tomorrow, only to replay yesterday all over again: “Second verse, same as the first! A little bit louder and a little bit worse!”
I admit I don’t always turn to the Lord or His Word when I am overwhelmed. I have tried before, but I can’t focus enough to know what to read, or even concentrate on the words themselves. But that’s exactly what Psalm 105:4 tells me to do. It’s not wrong to hide away, cry, eat chocolate, or call someone to vent. I think having a place of solitude to go in order to calm down is necessary. Otherwise, emotions might be taken out on loved ones and cause further damage.
A friend gave me a verse that has been a tremendous help during those volatile times. Psalm 61:2 says, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee; when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” From the depths of my closet, I have cried out to God with an overwhelmed heart, asking Him for His strength. I admit out loud that I can’t do this alone and I need Him. I pour out my heart to Him, trusting that He is listening: “This isn’t the life I pictured. I hate this! I don’t want this for my son or for our family.” I certainly don’t hate
Samuel; I hate the negative ways autism affects his daily life. I hate how hard he has to work to achieve something that comes so naturally to everyone else. And yes, sometimes it really is just too much to deal with. It’s just too hard. But it’s not an option to quit and walk away. At least, not one that I allow myself to consider. I don’t have a choice. I have to do everything I possibly can to help him. I have to wrap him up and hold him for as long as it takes. I must. Because that’s what love does. Love never fails.
Friends, Jesus loves you. His love truly never fails. He won’t quit and walk away from us because we’re crying out to Him yet again and it’s just too much to deal with. He won’t – He can’t - because of the covenant He made with us. We can obey these words to “seek the Lord continually” because we know He is continually present. His strength is abundant and He lavishes His grace on us in our hurt. When it’s just too hard, cry out to God.
Father, thank You for always being there whenever I need You. You know the pain, frustration, and sorrow I feel because of the challenges my child faces. Help me to seek You first when I can’t handle it anymore. Comfort my heart and remind me that You are able when I am not. That Your strength is mine in Christ and I can do all things through Him. Thank You for loving my child and for loving me. I praise You that Your mercies truly are new every morning, and that Your grace is sufficient. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Amen.