There are a few lessons in life that God has to teach us over and over again. For me, the importance of being flexible is one of those. As the youngest daughter of a whimsical mother who was widowed before I entered school, I grew up being pretty rigid, independent, and opinionated. I always felt that if I didn’t have things in order, no one else would and it was my job to hold the family together. This obviously was not conducive to giving the Lord the reins in my life.
When I got married, I had very specific ideas about how children should be raised to be guaranteed that they would turn out to be godly awesome adults. Soon after my second child was born, God started a work in my life that would crumble my rigid opinions and take me on a life changing adventure. My precious little son, Nicky, who was the easiest baby I’ve ever met (I figured it was because my husband and I were great parents and doing everything “right!”), changed my life in a deep way. By about a year and a half, it became obvious that something was wrong with him. He was not responding to any of my teaching. And thus began our journey into the world of autism. He is now a sweet 18 year old boy who is very affectionate and usually mild mannered but is completely non-verbal and very limited in his functioning.
The lessons of autism have taught me the importance of being flexible and releasing control to my heavenly Father. I have learned to let go of having my house in perfect order as Nick has a very curious concept of how things should be arranged (and rearranged!) I have learned to let go of treasuring any possessions as Nicky frequently breaks things. I have learned to let go of my perfectly planned schedule as Nick frequently will have a melt down and plans have to change immediately. My personal preference for peace and quiet in my home has had to give way to his need to continually tap blocks against the wall. I have learned to let go of wanting people to look at us as a “perfect family” as we constantly get stares out in public from his odd behaviors. It has been very humbling and has taught me about what is truly important - leaning completely on the Lord and loving others unconditionally and treat them as more important than myself.
I share this with you to encourage you in your precious homes and homeschools. Be flexible! Have a plan for your day, but don’t be so rigid that you can’t respond to that question your child asks which takes you totally off track for a few hours as you research the answer. Make sure there is time to cuddle that child who becomes overwhelmed at the task of learning to read and just needs to cry for a bit. If your child really doesn’t want to follow in dad’s footsteps as a baseball player and wants to take piano instead, be flexible! If your child learns his multiplication tables in the 3rd grade instead of the 2nd grade, it’s ok! There is rarely only “one right way” to do something. Be open to new suggestions from your family members. Do not insist on your own way and your homes will be full of harmony and love. With a spirit of harmony and acceptance, your children will feel safe and will flourish as you guide them on their path to explore God’s beautiful world.
Relax, breathe, be sensitive, and let God nudge you in a new direction!
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” I Cor. 13:4-5
This is a collection of the reflections our principal, Susan Truman submits to our monthly newsletters. She is married to her college sweetheart and is a mother of three. She graduated two of her children from Coastal with her third child attending a special needs school.