As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
I carry Bible and journal out to the yard, needing to release steam from the pressure cooker of my emotions. It’s a picture-perfect June day. The corn rustles in the breeze; the dry grass, when walked on, smells like summer itself. The squirrels play ring-around-the-rosy in the maple, and the dappled shadows of leaves blowing in the wind create an ever-changing pattern on the grass in front of my chair. A bright blue jewel of an indigo bunting flashes in front of my eyes. Beauty at its best, and yet, I cannot take it in.
My son is unraveling, day by day, week by week. I can’t cry anymore. Warm tears have frozen, an icy dagger plunged deep in my heart. It scares me, this anger, and so I bury it deep inside. Problem is, this wrapped-up, tucked-away anger doesn’t disappear. It decays like fish wrapped in newspaper, poisoning body and mind. I withdraw from the people I love. Prayer is a desert without water or words. Meditation impossible.
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted with me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
I remember, Lord. I remember praising you in Jerusalem, just weeks ago. I remember calling your name from the wall surrounding the city. I remember standing on the ramparts and commanding the Enemy, in the name of Jesus to go, to depart. I remember standing at the western wall of the temple, hands on warm stone, pouring out my heart. I remember glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving from the Jerusalem Prayer Tower, a multitude of eight, keeping festival.
Help me. Lord. I want to praise you again. I know, from reading your Word, that you knew anger. Fully God, yet fully man, there is no human emotion you did not know. You over-turned the money-changers’ tables in the temple. I stood there and envisioned it. You chastised the Pharisees, calling them white-washed tombs. I encountered them, lost on their streets and subject to their man-made righteousness. You didn’t stuff your anger. You told it like it was. You were honest. You demanded justice.
Why am I so afraid of these feelings? They concern my son, after all. My autistic son, the one who can’t speak for himself. The one who so often communicates to us through behavior rather than words. His behavior these last few months tell us that something in his life is intolerable. And so he lashes out at the closest person. Pulling hair. Pulling glasses off of faces. Hitting. Throwing rocks.
I spend my days trying to put together the puzzle of what he’s struggling to communicate. The wrong medication? Too much of the right medication? Is it pain? Do his wisdom teeth need to come out? Is he experiencing back pain from his kyphosis? Do his feet hurt? Or is it his sensory system, overloaded with too many choices, too much space? Or perhaps his sensory system is under-stimulated? Is he bored? Unhappy? Homesick? I make appointments with the appropriate doctors and therapists, as we carefully fit the puzzle pieces together, one-by-one. My anger seethes at myself, for not being able to solve the puzzle; at his father, for not working harder to help me solve the puzzle; at the management of the farm where he lives, who have not, from the beginning of working with him, listened to what I’ve said he needs; who have not given him the structure he needs to be successful.
My soul is cast down within me, therefore I remember thee from the land of Jordon and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love; and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I’ve been so tempted lately to give the whole thing up, this placement for my son that we believed was of God. And yet, I remember meeting you by the Sea of Galilee just weeks ago, the place you promised to meet me. I stood by the shore and looked, and there you were, in the symbol of two white birds, flying side by side along the seashore, then heading out to sea. You and me, Lord. You and me. You teach me how to fly. You keep me safe while at the same challenging me to take risks. Moving Joel out of the home was a risk. Keeping up the good fight to make it work for him at the farm, is a risk. Going to Israel was a risk. Yet through the turbulent waters, you are with me. You are with Joel. Your love for us is steadfast. You will never leave us.
I say to God, my rock: “Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
O Lord, I have felt forgotten lately. I seek your face and do not find you. My adversaries are not of flesh and blood, but are “the principalities, the powers,” the “world rulers of this present darkness,” the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
I see today that the poison eating away at my heart is of my own doing. I have given in to the Enemy’s ways of unforgiveness and resentment. You told me in prayer just a few days ago, Lord, that the life-preserver I am to put on in this spinning boat of my life is praise. I know that you sit at table with us as we put together this puzzle of Joel’s life with autism. All I have to do is look back and remember to realize you have never abandoned us. I will not succumb to poison arrows or despair. I forgive myself, Wally, those in charge of Joel’s care. I give it all up to you, Lord. I know you give wisdom, insight and courage to those who ask. Help me to take the actions I need to take to help my son flourish and prosper and grow.
I praise you, Lord. You are my help. You are my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.