Last October, a week before Blaze was officially diagnosed with Autism I was on a plane sitting next to a man who I swear was the real life Forest Gump. He had such an amazing life story; the highlight of was he rollerbladed across the country to raise money for his 9 year old nephew who was diagnosed with cancer. He also gave the money from the sale of his company to this boy’s parents. When he did he had no idea how much that would be; he just told his business partner to sell, give him the $28,000 he would need to roller blade across America and give the rest to the boy’s parents. He had no idea this amount would be $250,000, but he never looked back! I must admit I had no interest in talking to this man at first. He was not the kind of person I would normally give the time of day but he captured my interest and I am still touched by the stories he told me. During the conversation, I told him how my son was about to be diagnosed with Autism and how it had brought my husband and I closer to God. At the time, it was still very hard for me to say those words out loud but there I was telling a perfect stranger. Even as the words came out of my mouth, I wondered why I would tell him this. Then he made a comment that has never left me and never will. He said “that’s interesting because usually when something happens to your child it pushes you away from God. “ I had never thought of it that way. And since I do not believe there are any accidents, I know he was put in that seat next to me to say those very words. To make me realize what a gift our faith is… more than I even knew.
In the area of faith, I am a different person than I was 2 years ago. I sometimes have a phobia that people may find my new found faith as faith of convenience or somehow find it un- authentic. The old me was not a person who would reference God very often, a person who talked about praying or a person who knew any stories from the Bible. Now, it is a daily part of my life. Very different than how I used to be. I am still not a church going person because I don’t believe you have to go to church to have a relationship with God. I talk to God when I pray every night as I walk the prayer circle around my house and I now see the wonderful things he does every day.
It took something happening to my child to make me realize my place in the world. To make me realize that I am not in control and that is okay. To make me trust so deeply that it has allowed me not to worry every day. It took this experience to make me give thanks to God each and every day for all of the blessings that I do have. And oddly enough, it took the real life Forest Gump to make me realize how unique my relationship is with God. I can’t believe I am about to say Autism has been a blessing but it has been in some ways. It has made us look at everything in our life and figure out what was missing, what we needed to fix and take stock of what we have. It was Autism that brought us to God and, while it can be a very challenging life, I always find myself thinking that if not for Autism we would have missed out on all of the comfort and love that we have found in having faith. Moral of the story: Sometimes it takes something you never expected to make you the person you were always meant to be.
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