"Strength isn't something you have. It's something you find." ~Emma Smith
Recently, I was watching a film based on the life of Emma Smith. It was a very good movie, but something she said during the film stuck with me....so much so that I could hardly concentrate on the rest of the movie. Her daughter was commenting to her that she wished she was as strong as her (Emma Smith). Then, Emma said, "Strength isn't something you have. It's something you find."
As I reflected on this scene, I related so much to Emma. I am constantly being asked how I have so much patience with my child who has autism, how can you be so calm when he throws a tantrum, how can you be so happy all of the time, and so on. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I am asked questions like this almost daily by people in my life. In fact, last weekend my husband & I were fortunate enough to have a date including a meal alone! Our waitress commented to my husband that our home must be full of laughter because I was such a cheerful person. OH...you should have seen the look my husband gave her! It was priceless!!!
But I have to say....I am NOT cheerful all the time or have endless amounts of patience with my child or 24 hours of energy to play flash cards with my kiddo, but I have noticed that since we have discovered Ethan has autism.....I have found an inner strength that I never knew was inside me. I have just called it Courage....but some have called it Determination, Drive, and even Dedication. And I would NEVER have used these words to describe me....EVER! But now that so many people have commented to me about this, I have taken stock in who I am. Maybe it's because I'm now in my 30s and becoming more "self-aware" so to speak, but I guess I AM stronger than I thought I was. But Emma Smith was right. I found it.
And I think every parent, especially those with children who have special needs, comes to a "fight or flight" point in their parenting. For me, it was definitely once I realized that Ethan was developmentally delayed....which was well before his actual ASD diagnosis. I mentioned once before that I felt like my child was trapped inside a burning building, and it was my responsibility to go in & get him out. And that was where I found my strength. In that moment, I summoned all I had and prayed to God to help me with what I knew I was lacking......and every day I do this again & again. Each day God reminds me that I was chosen to be this child's mother for a reason, and I feel responsible to my Lord for my parenting decisions & my daily choices. And He helps me every inch of the way.
So, yeah, having a child with autism is not the easiest road. But our entire family has grown in our faith & character so much...not just me. I count this as yet another blessing of being Ethan's mama. He has taught me so much about love & perseverance. I look at him, and I can't help but advocate for him! To be his biggest cheerleader & help him in anyway I can! If that means calling up total strangers, knocking down doors, risking not be liked, filling out TONS of paperwork, going to conferences, and paying a bunch of money for things that will help Ethan....YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT I'M GONNA DO IT! And people, you should see the difference in Ethan. There are no words to describe it. The last several years of ups & downs, of joy & frustration, of lost & found.....it is ALL BEEN WORTH IT TO SEE HOW IT HAS HELPED ETHAN!!!! He is such a different child than he was even MONTHS ago! His struggles & frustrations seem to be shrinking every day! IT IS A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!!
So, I can see what Emma Smith was talking about when she said that strength is something you find because I found mine when I needed to help my child. But, I think some people ARE born with an inner strength because I have seen it in Ethan from the moment he was born. He is truly amazing.