In a previous post, I revealed the challenges that Ethan faces attending church as a person with autism. Please understand that my intention is NOT to put down church. I LOVE going to church. My grandpa was a preacher, my father is a preacher, and I have been attending church since before I can remember. I come from generations...on both sides of my family....of people who love the Lord & have served Him all their life. I have felt the presence of God many times in my life, but meeting together with other believers in worship & fellowship.....well, there is just nothing that compares to it. God is always ever so present.
My intention is to let others know the challenges that exist for our family....one family living with one disability. Difficulties are everywhere in our world for those with special needs, and the church is not excluded from that list. The reason it matters so much & effects our family so much is due to the fact that church has ALWAYS been very important to us. Corey & I met at church, many of our friends we met through church, many of our social activities are through the church, and we have always served/volunteered at our church. It has always been a deep part of my life.
So, Ethan have difficulty attending church has affected many things. For example, Corey & I rarely get to be in a church service together. One would stay home with Ethan while the other would go. That's hard in a whole new way. Viewing other couples sitting together, viewing other children having fun at church, reading in our bulletin about the many activities that wouldn't be able to attend....that is all hard to endure. Whoever went to church would just end up coming home more frustrated & upset.
Honestly, do you know what is the EASIEST? Not going. And that is what we have been doing the last couple of weeks....since August 18th. I don't have to see Ethan get upset & not be able to help him through it. I don't have to learn about events that I will miss out on. I don't have to yearn to volunteer at church knowing that I can't be a consistent volunteer at the moment. I don't have to feel like an outsider or a burden.
But is it REALLY easier? No. I know that God wants our family in church. I know that it helps our marriage, helps us parent, helps keep me accountable, and usually lifts my spirits.
ANYONE ELSE BEEN THROUGH THIS? GOING THROUGH THIS? HOW DO YOU ATTEND CHURCH WITH YOUR FAMILY MEMBER LIVING WITH A DISABILITY?
Well.....what I ended up doing was a pro/con list of our current church. My husband & I both started at our home church in 1994....I was a freshman in high school. So for almost 20 years, this has been my place of worship, my home, my family. But it's not about me anymore.....it's about what is best for Ethan. I want him in church & if we need to find another place to go.....then that is what we will do.
This is where we are at....do we stay or do we go somewhere else? Because NOT going is not the answer. So......in typical Jessica fashion.....I made a pro/con list.... ;0)
After I wrote this list, I began to study & analyze it. It seems like the items on the PRO list are facts. And only 2 things on the CON list are factual....the rest are feelings or fears. This was an eye opener for me.
So, what to do? Pray. Pray. Pray......harder. And stay tuned for what happened next......I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it!!!!!!