As an autism mom, I'm grateful for the example of my sister Amy, who is also an autism mom. She was my inspiration about a year ago, when I was asked to speak in our sacrament meeting at church. I was able to choose my own topic. I chose "Weathering the Storm" because I feel like that is something everyone deals with in this life. I have been thinking again so much about this topic, and I feel like it would be a good time to share the thoughts that I had when I was writing this talk.
In the New Testament, Mark 4:36-41, we can read about when Jesus and his disciples were resting on their boat. A tempestuous storm came, and the disciples were afraid. Jesus was getting some much-needed rest, and the disciples felt that they needed to wake him up. Jesus was able to calm the storm. We can relate this to our own lives. Sometimes we have storms/challenges that we are afraid of and do not know how to handle. We can seek out Christ in our lives, and he will calm that storm and help us through it.
A very amazing example to me of weathering the storm is my sister, Amy. She found herself in the midst of what, in my opinion, could be the worst storm a person could encounter. On a winter night five years ago, she went to check on her kids at bedtime and found her oldest son had passed away unexpectedly. Such a sad, and horrible experience for anyone. On her way to the hospital, she turned to God and her brother Jesus Christ for comfort. They put the words to a song by Janice Kapp Perry, "The Test" in her mind, to help her understand a little bit of why her son had been taken away from her. I will always remember her amazing example of looking at the bigger picture and trusting God, even when it was so hard. She could have turned away from God, as so many people do. She could have blamed God, as so many people do. Instead she sought out her Heavenly Father to guide her by the hand and help her get through her grief. This is still something she deals with, but she is able to be the mother/wife/individual she still needs to be because of her faith. She is my hero.
I had to take my sadness and give it to God. I had to trust that God would help me to know how to be a mother to children that I was constantly learning new things about and trying to understand why they were the way they were. I had to turn to God when I was feeling judged and remember that God is my father and sees the intentions of my heart. I had to remember that Jesus Christ suffered all sorrow, sin, pain. Therefore, he understands me perfectly.
One of my favorite scriptures to turn to in the midst of a storm is in the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 4:20"My God hath been my asupport; he hath led me through minebafflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep."
Sometimes when we encounter a storm, we may not weather it in a healthy manner. We may forget that God is there for us and can help us to get through it if we turn to him. Don't let mistakes you have made ruin the present. There is a great quote that I have as a motto: "Don't regret the past. Learn from it." How much better would we all do if we didn't hang onto the problems in the past? How much better would we do if we could use them as a lesson?
Another way to weather the storm is not to compare ourselves with other people in our lives. Everyone has their own storms to weather, and everyone has to endure them in a different way. As Oscar Wilde said, "Every Saint has a past, and every sinner has a future."When I think about the trials that I have, and the hard times that resulted, it's great to have the hindsight to see that some of the "mistakes" our family made actually led us directly to the paths that we needed to be on to be happier. Because of problems that seemed so large and that we felt would never end, we were forced to do things in a different way than we had planned. This led us to where we are now. My husband joined the Navy, and they stationed us in San Diego. This is where we are able to receive great benefits for our children that we wouldn't have had otherwise. God sees the big picture when we aren't able to.
I am not an alcoholic, but I definitely have my struggles that I work daily to overcome. So, there are a couple of principles from Alcoholics Anonymous that I can apply to my life. They are "One Day at a Time" and the Serenity Prayer. When I am having a bad day and feeling overwhelmed, telling myself, "One Day at a Time..." is a good way to get through the day and realize that this day will be over soon and it will be a new day tomorrow.
I love the Serenity Prayer. I have applied it to so many things. I remember when Garrett was first diagnosed with autism. All these crazy rumors were spreading about different ways to "cure" your child of autism. My husband and I were both kind of in a denial about his autism, and we were also trying all these "cures," thinking they would help. It took the Serenity Prayer to help me accept my baby just how he was and instead focus on making his life better instead of trying to change him.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (my children's diagnosis of autism),Courage to change the things I can (my attitude),and the Wisdom to know the difference. (The only thing I can change in the world is myself).
Our trials shape us. We become wiser and stronger. We learn empathy for others and are able to keep the covenants (also found in the book of Mormon: Mosiah 18:8-9): " ... and now, as ye areadesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort..."
In closing, there are a couple of quotes that I have adopted as my own little mantras and have really helped me when I'm trying to weather the storm. "No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse." (Jeffrey Holland). Yes, I have this one hanging in my home, and I should hang it in every room to remind myself... ;)
The second quote is by a very wise woman who shares my birthday, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."