Where to Find That Peaceable Place

It was supposed to be the typical Sunday afternoon lunch with friends—kids on one end of the restaurant table, adults on the other. Except, it wasn’t.

Austin-Lunch
Photo by Altairkh (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What is it about Sunday mornings? It’s like all of our good intentions get sucked into a vortex of chaos, anger, and tardiness. Sunday mornings support the quip, “Confession is good for the soul.” After 19 years of mothering my son Jon, who suffers from sensory-processing challenges, Tourette’s, anxiety, and other disabilities, I’ve become hyper-aware of the potential chaos that can arise when he’s placed in any given setting. Even at church, Jon regularly endures silent, invisible challenges and constantly being misunderstood; yet he continues to show up and worship, heart and soul.

At the end of service, we gathered with several families for a bite to eat.

Then it began.

Living in Two Worlds

Social get-togethers complicate Jon’s challenges; the noise, difficulty with communication, tic suppression, and inability to understand typical interactions intensify Jon’s differences. He sat by me at lunch. But after a while, his tics and challenges finally took over, exceeding his exhausted resources for coping. I rubbed some helpful oils on his neck as the noise and chatter continued.

I exist in two worlds: in one world, I’m a free-spirited mother of typical children; and in the other, I’m a caregiving mother with more questions than answers. The contrast quiets and humbles my perfectionistic soul, which is constantly trying to find a balance between the two.

We returned home to seek afternoon peace and quiet. My son relished the relief: no one staring, overlooking, judging, dismissing, or pretending to be comfortable in their discomfort. I understand the pretending and apprehension—that was me before I had a different child. Hopefully, the gap between these two worlds will lessen in this life; nonetheless, difference is profoundly distinct and difficult.

The Value of Quietness

In the quietness of that Sunday evening, I wondered if others experience seasons where the chaos of communal commitments becomes less comforting than the quiet of God’s Word speaking to our needy souls. There are days when my heart wishes for yesteryear, when we went to church and worshiped without worry. The fun, friends, laughter, and lingering time never pushed me to my limits; in fact, they fed my soul.

Yet, stretched beyond imagination these many years later, I seek my Savior’s still, quiet voice that reminds me I’m loved, seen, enjoyed, accepted—feelings my son must long for on many days.

How disabled is the human soul! While we may fear moments of quietness with Christ, quietness before Him and His Word can provide touches of healing grace this world cannot provide.

Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK [CC-BY-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK [CC-BY-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

I recently read these words of comfort from my dad’s book So You Want to Be Like Christ? May they bring you comfort too.

Open the Word of God in a peaceful place and sit in quietness before Him. Let the random bits of mind-litter blow through your consciousness and wait . . . and read . . . and meditate. In time the Spirit of God will illumine a passage, and it will come to life. . . . Virtually before you know it, the knotty situation that drove you to distraction will unravel. You will discover as you “cease” that your greatest problems start to shrink before Almighty God. . . . He will calm your emotions and relieve your mind. You will discover new direction, freedom from worry, a sense of peace. And like the psalmist you will find Him “a very present help in trouble.”1Charles R. Swindoll, So You Want To Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to Get You There (Nashville: W Publishing, 2005), 63–64.

Let Me Hear from You

Have you taken time recently to be still, to be quiet? Does the thought of being still and quiet feel a bit scary or uncomfortable?

Then maybe that’s exactly where you need to be.

I used to believe doing more was a must for Christian growth. Now, I’ve learned from my son—who cannot run from or hide his pain—that we can experience profound relief and release when we slow to hear the voice of God as revealed in Scripture. He is speaking to you.

Are you willing to slow down and listen? Let’s talk about that.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Notes:   [ + ]

1. Charles R. Swindoll, So You Want To Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to Get You There (Nashville: W Publishing, 2005), 63–64.
  • Debbie Kay

    Beautifully stated by you and your dad, Colleen…sending you a hug from one mom’s heart to another and rejoicing with you that one day our beautiful boys will be healed and whole and we will see the other side of the tapestry that God’s been weaving with all of the hurt, pain and struggle they’ve endured. Isn’t it wonderful that for all the things that we lose once disability enters our lives, we gain in so many other ways…the number one being that God pours Himself into us. The spiritual gifts He gives us, will endure long after any memories of the way things used to be, or the way we hoped they would be, have faded away. I carry you and Jon in my heart every day…you are loved by the Lord and me! (((Col)))

    • Debbie,
      You are so kind. And your words so well said…yes, for all the things we lose, there are gifts given to our lives that cannot be bought. It’s learning to live in the ‘in between’; some days are better than others, aren’t they! So good to hear from you and to connect. I know you get all this stuff so well…better then I as your journey contains so many challenges. I hope you are feeling better these days and the Lord is providing you with His abundant peace. Colleen

  • RohnaH

    Oh yes, the Sunday morning vortex. Especially the tardy part! My husband and I are part of the praise band at our 8:35 service, so we have to get two autistic boys and one typical and slow-as-molasses girl out the door by 7:50! Suffice it to say – we are late for warm-ups quite often!

    Thanks for your transparency, and for articulating feelings I’ve had but couldn’t nail down. I am referring to living in two different worlds. You are so right here. I am learning, as we go along, to set aside my ideas of what life “should be.” Things are different for us in a lot of ways. On one hand, we pretty much are limited to Disney World for vacations (which is fine with me, actually!) and live in a constant state of upheaval in the house (yesterday it was a gallon of milk that my youngest son dropped on the kitchen floor!). But on the other, we’ve learned to celebrate little things like good eye contact, a child-initiated hug or smile, and a meltdown-free trip to Walmart. Life is different than what I ever expected, but in the ways that count, it is way better and more fulfilling than I could have imagined.

    • RohnaH,
      Are you reading my mail or what???? = ) The first thing I wanted to mention is that an organization I love called “Autism on the Seas” works with families like ours to have real family vacations. They provide support for cruises and Disneyland. They are adding more all the time but beginning 9 months out sometimes, they will help with arrangements and even have trained staff members who can go with a family and help care for the child or loved one while the others enjoy various outings. It’s a win-win and I love what they are doing. Next, I think you nailed it exactly when you said you celebrate the little things…so, so many little things happen that we would have never even considered a blessing from heaven until life turned upside down. The milk story (while it wasn’t funny at the time, I’m sure) was touching as I recall my son flooding our bathrooms more than once, playing in water, and on another occasion, spilled a whole bag of flour all over the kitchen floor while I was on the phone. So we made snow angels in the spring….inside even = ) . Making it through Walmart is a HUGE success; we were just there yesterday and I don’t know who struggled more with anxiety….my son or me trying to calm my son…who knows. So we take it one day at a time, don’t we. And yes, it is a very different but fulfilling life when we choose to see it as a temporary stopping place. By the way, how on earth do you get two boys with autism out the door? I would love to know some of your tools or helps!! When you have time, let me know…you rock! Colleen

  • VickiHD

    Colleen,
    Thank you for another very thought provoking message today. Actually, I have been struggling the past couple of days wishing that I didn’t need to drive our son to the speech therapist, occupational therapist, and all those other “special” weekly appointments that most parents will never have to do. I just wish life was different and easier sometimes. Now, don’t get me wrong…we would not have it any way and we are fortunate to provide therapies and lessons each week, even piano…but it’s just difficult when you see other families not having to deal with such issues and seem to be living such carefree lives.
    I do welcome quietness and will be trying to have more of that in my life to think, meditate on passages (like from your Dad’s book, and pray) I know that will be the only thing that will work to lighten my heart during these times and I welcome that.
    I just want to tell you again that I am so grateful for your weekly writings and it really helps me get through the week. Thank you !!
    Blessings,
    Vicki

    • Vicki,
      I totally understand! You never have to apologize for feeling like life is not what you wished is was or thought it would be. Those are natural feelings we all experience. The difference between moving through them successfully and growing in depth and grace is in acknowledging them, taking them to the Lord, reaching out, saying ‘this is hard’….it’s being the same on the inside and out. You are keeping your soul from becoming divided which will mean you won’t fight yourself over the feelings. You know what to do with them. Like my friend Marilyn Meberg says: “Feelings have no brains”; and she is right on! We must not allow them to determine our direction or give them more power; but we certainly need to have a place of safety where we can say ‘this is not what I planned and it’s hard’. If you remember and I just read this last night, Christ had a discussion with his Father before the cross…in the dark, alone and probably terrified, he pleaded for another way. He ‘gets’ us through and through. It takes time and attention, reflection and asking oneself hard questions; but the honesty and humility that this process brings is profound. My son’s school is an hour away in the morning traffic…there have been days when I have thought in bumper to bumper traffic….’really, this is life every day?’….yes, it is and there are seasons when I’m settled with that and other seasons when I am not. So here’s one really helpful tip I’ve have learned through this: I use the time to listen to books, podcasts, music, teachings, sermons, stories…you name it…stuff that feeds my soul. I listen with purposeful intention to feed my soul with truth, to know what I am learning God will use to help others…just like you will speak to other mom’s and have an understanding that would have never come if the demand was not there. In fact, I kept saying to my team, can we please put the interviews on podcasts or the blog posts or whatever because people on “my planet” (ha-ha) sit and wait and wait and wait in traffic and therapy rooms and so on. And they were so fantastic to hear the need and now it’s available. So if you can access iTunes, our special needs podcast is there. Insight for Living also has one for my dad’s sermons, I listen to tons of stuff. I don’t know if that will help but I want to thank you and honor you for your transparency and honesty. You are giving life to your soul and you will breathe life into others in their seasons of difficulty. We are a team, we have to have support and we weren’t meant to make it alone. I’m so thrilled you wrote and so happy to hear from you. I hope you keep connecting because I think you are really great! Colleen

      • VickiHD

        Colleen,
        Thank you for your thoughtful and wisdom filled email. I really have to remember what your friend said about feelings not having any brains. I just love that 🙂
        I will definitely check out the pod casts on iTunes. On our way home from my son’s therapy visits we are able to catch your Dad’s show and it’s always a blessing to hear his sermons.
        Wishing you a very joy filled and less stress week. Look forward to Tues. post.
        Blessings,
        Vicki

        • Vicki,
          How are you friend? Yep, another post tomorrow…I hope it’s encouraging to you and I would love to hear your thoughts if you have time. Have a great afternoon, Colleen