Last night, Pip and Bean’s godmother took them to the Zoolights Exhibit in Boston. For most families, this is a typical kid experience that might elicit a few smiles and fun selfies.
For ours, it’s a reason to lift our voices in praise.
Three years ago, when our sweet guy was in the throes of a sensory processing disorder, the prospect of music and rows and rows of flashing lights would have spelled disaster. He would have become more and more irritable, until finally bolting to escape or completely melting down.
But not last night. He grinned ear to ear, gasped with wonder, and dashed between exhibits, not in overwhelm, but in joy. His face shined with the delight that God so graciously infuses into childhood. The excitement that sparks so freely from young minds crackled behind his eyes.
Before he’d gone on the trip, anxiety nagged him. His prior sensory difficulties faded into the background a year ago, but his body still remembers the trauma. With every new experience, he tenses up instinctively, and the worries start to churn. Although he can now handle the music at church, and the feel of water against his face, for a long time such mundane experiences felt threatening. And so now, although he’s progressed in leaps and bounds, and SPD is a thing of the past (except for temperature issues — he still can’t discern cold), a knot twists his stomach when the unfamiliar confronts him.
When I saw the look on his face, I sat down with him, and we worked through his anxiety. We talked about all the things he now loved, that used to be hard — swimming and birthday parties, church, basketball practice, and going to the beach. With each reminder, his mood and confidence lifted, and my gratitude swelled. We were noting blessings, which God has showered upon us abundantly. We were remembering His refining work in our lives — helping Pip to glean joy from the world; helping to refine the broken edges and corners of a mom whose impatience once crowded out her empathy.
It has been a long and humbling journey, and one through which we’ve seen God at work continuously, carrying us through when our legs failed, softening us when our words tensed with frustration. Throughout, He has remained faithful. His grace has been sufficient, when our works were not. His steadfast love and faithfulness never ebbed. When the tears sprang to our eyes, and we worried we were drowning, He replied:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all who have prayed for us over the years regarding Pip’s challenges. And thanks be to God, for His loving provision, for refining us, and for ushering our wonderful, hilarious, kind-hearted Pip toward joy.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply.
The flames shall not hurt you. I only design
your dross to consume, and your gold to refine. (How Firm a Foundation)
PS: For those of you struggling with sensory processing issues, here are some resources that have helped us: