I recently read an article about the prevalence of autism in America, and the way it affects families. Something like 80% of couples who raise an autistic child end up divorced. One dad interviewed said the statistic didn’t surprise him at all. He even used the phrase, “at each other’s throat” in reference to his wife as they learned to deal with their son early on.
One of the things he gives credit, for keeping his marriage together? His church. “Members who might not be familiar with autism, and might find William’s behaviors scary, were willing to learn how to care for him.” They’d give the couple a break every now and then. That really moved me, to see practical love being put to use. This church walked their talk. They leaned in and held this couple’s arms up when they got tired. We always say it takes a village to raise a child, but in this story it took a village to keep a marriage together. I love that image.
This story may not have applied to me word for word, but it reminded me of the importance of community – neighborhood, workplace, the Internet, and beyond. During the last several months, I’ve been touched over and over again by you people. Each encouraging comment, email, and text message. Each time someone at work or church stops me and says, “I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I read your blog and I’m here for you.” Each offer to babysit or to stop by and help during therapy sessions. You all are blowing my mind with support and love, and it feels so good to accept it. You are acting as the body of Christ… Even if you don’t plant your flag in the Jesus camp.
Sorta creepy & sneaky, huh? It’s okay. I think it breaks things down nicely. It paints a picture of what Christianity is all about and what a church is supposed to look like. I’m thankful to have found one that I call home. One that takes me and my family as we are. One that doesn’t care (to borrow my pastor’s words) if I’m black, white, gay, or straight. One that makes me feel safe. One that challenges me to lean in and get my hands dirty worrying about others before myself. Since the sisters were born, I’ve found myself giving away more money and time and material things. It’s never felt more backwards and I’ve never felt more at peace.
I don’t know about you… but the thought of holding someone’s arms up when they have nothing left? It makes me feel more alive than I ever though possible.