Shift Your Focus During a Tantrum: God Spoke to Me

Full version of this story entitled “Overcoming my ‘Autism'” is published in When God Spoke To Me by DavidPaul Doyle

It was a beautiful day as I cheerily loaded my kids in the car to take my youngest son, Jake, to Occupational Therapy.  He eagerly climbed his 7-year-old body into his car seat.  Jake LOVED to “go see Amy,” his therapist,  because there is an indoor gym area, lots of fun swings and large motor equipment. We were leaving a bit early to drop Derek, my 10-yr. old son, off at a friend’s house.  With everyone smiling, we were off.

The Meltdown 

Turned out there was a problem I wasn’t aware of – to drop my older son off at his friend’s house I had to turn left instead of right.  Right was the way we usually turned to go to therapy.  Jake immediately started screaming in a panic “BACK THIS WAY!!!!  BACK THIS WAY!!!!”  I tried explaining, “We will!!!  We will!!! I promise!!!  We just have to drop Derek off first!!!  Real quick!!!  We’re going to go see Amy!!!”  My words couldn’t penetrate his panic and disappointment. He was screaming, sobbing, kicking the back of my seat, and biting his own arm repeatedly.

By the time we reached the gym, I try to get him to look out the window to see where we were, but it was just too late.  He was a sobbing, hysterical mess with red blotches all over his pale face and mucus and tears streaming down to his chin.  I was glad he was restrained in his car seat because it prevented him from attacking me so I could drive back home.

Once home he was still sobbing with his hands covering his face.  I decided to leave him in his car seat in hopes he’d calm down. I opened the car door and propped open the door from the garage to the house with my purse so I could see and hear him, while I called to tell the therapy office that we wouldn’t be making it in that day.  They informed me that due to the time Amy had blocked off for him, we would still have to pay.  I didn’t argue, that was the least of my concerns at the time. I hung up the phone, and then it was my turn to meltdown.

God Speaks

Tears started rolling down my face, and I began to wallow in my feelings of helplessness and frustration.  I started ranting out loud in anger to God.  “God, PLEASE!  THIS is why I want him to be able to understand me!!!  He LOVES to go to the gym, but he couldn’t go today – because of his autism he couldn’t understand me, let alone trust me!!!  His own mother can’t get through to him, and he’s 7 years old!!!  Why won’t You help me?!?”

Then I heard a clear, firm voice say, “How are you any different than your child?”  Those words froze me in my tracks. They broke through my self-pity as I realized how true those words were.  While reflecting and listening for more  I heard only the sound of my child quietly sobbing out in his car seat.

I know how much I love my child, and I know how real that love is – why would I doubt my heavenly Father’s love for me?  If I’ve truly placed God in the driver’s seat of my life, why can’t I trust Him when my life takes an unexpected turn?  What fun, wonderful things am I missing because I paralyze myself with my disappointments and fears when things don’t go the way I think they should go?  How many times have I made “bad” situations even worse by letting my emotions spiral out of control?

Shifting Focus

I am so grateful God pointed that out to me.  Now when things take a “wrong turn” I try not to panic as I remember God has a bigger picture in mind that I just can’t conceive at the moment.  Someone else may be benefiting, maybe there is something important that needs to be done that I am not aware of, maybe there is something I could learn…  I may never know for sure.   What I do know is that I can’t control all those things anyways.  What I can control is my own will to trust in God, quiet down, and listen – focus on my Faith instead of my fears and emotions.  Believing in God means that something GOOD will happen eventually. Thank-You God.