Community, Coping with the Challenges

Come Over For Dinner

An attractive dinner setting

“Would you like to come over for dinner?” Words we dread to hear. No, we’re not recluses. We’re not agoraphobics. In reality, when our schedule permits, we rarely turn down an invitation to come to someone’s house. It didn’t used to be like that. There was a time when we would avoid dinners and birthday parties like the plague. Thankfully, Gabriel has grown and matured some. But still … a friendly visit to someone’s house is hardly an easy task for us.

I wish I could say that I can just relax and talk to some friends over coffee while my kids play happily with their kids. It’s not the case with Gabriel. Unlikely things can bring him a lot of anxiety. Even the food that is being served, if he’s not familiar with it, can cause him a great deal of stress. He also repeats things a lot (technical term “echolalia”), so I often have to talk him through it and help him get out of it. I like to describe it like a record album that skips (I know I’m dating myself). The same part in the song keeps playing over and over until you carefully move the record needle so that it can move smoothly between the grooves and finish the rest of the song.

This can be a challenge and even a source of frustration for me. At times, I have had thoughts like, “We should have never come.” But thoughts like that only lead me to a world of pity parties and paralyzing depression. If we are with friends who are not really familiar with our situation, we also have to fight feelings of embarrassment. This is what it is. This is what God has given us. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). Often, I find myself quietly praying, “Lord, help my son. Calm his mind and heart. Give me wisdom in handling this.” For me to respond in this way by prayer, this is good. To see God answer my prayers and watch my son overcome his anxieties, this is good. And there is more good being worked out by the Lord that I have yet to see. That is His promise. That is my hope.

(Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)

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