When a Stranger's Facebook Message Changed My Life
Finding support through this autism journey has not been easy. Most people are ignorant of autism, and I believe it’s one of the most misunderstood disabilities. People are not sure if they should say, “I’m sorry,” or if they should say, “Oh, my best friend’s child had something similar, and he/she is perfectly normal today.”
I’m beginning to get to a place where words like this cause me to cringe a little less. After all, unless you’re walking in our shoes and facing this challenge yourself, you truly do not know.
My husband and I don’t have a lot of support. Our own parents help in every way possible, but they’re going through health issues and caring for their own elderly parents. Friends have come and gone, as happens throughout life. Years ago, when we lost our daughter to a congenital heart defect (CHD), we had tons of support.
I’ve pondered this over the last few months, and I think I know the reason. First of all, we’re much older now, and most of our friends are just living life. I’ve noticed people get more busy with each passing day. No one has time to do much of anything other than go through the motions of life. I understand, trust me.
Although my path is far different than the paths of others, I know what it means to be overwhelmed with work, kids and just life. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are tons of people who perhaps could help and just don’t know how. I get it. The same applied years ago with our daughter. We knew no one could care for her the way we could.
Unless you live with autism, day in and day out, you will not know. Even some of our closest friends think life is pretty easy for us and fail to see that we keep things easy for Drake. Yes, he’s an easy-going, sweet little guy, but we have worked so hard and sheltered him to help him feel secure.
I believe this has helped foster a wonderful little personality. But we can’t just pack up our clothes, hire a babysitter and go off on a weekend getaway. People aren’t willing to give up part of their busy lives to learn how to live our life. I don’t blame them. No one has time to do that.
It’s hard enough to live my own life, much less learn how to walk in another set of shoes.
But then there are complete strangers who just take it upon themselves to help. I’m in awe of these people. I want to be these people. I believe strangers show up because God told them to.
A few weeks ago a women’s Christian conference, sponsored by a local church, came to our area. This conference has happened for a few years in our small town, and I’ve always heard wonderful things. A month or so before the big day, a few people suggested I attend.
One of the speakers was a comedian named Kelly Ingram. Kelly has a son with autism and chooses to laugh at the life God gave her. She is quite an inspiration. People who suggested I attend wanted me to hear her speak. I was grateful people were thinking of me, and I had no doubt the conference would be amazing, but I was reserved to attend. Drake has therapy every single day of the week. The weekend is the only time we can just chill and not have the demands of life weigh on us.
I didn’t feel particularly motivated to attend and no one was pushing the issue. Until Laura*.
A few days before the conference I received a Facebook message from a stranger named Laura. I’ve edited some of the text to shorten the conversation and changed the stranger’s name for her privacy”
I read your blog, and I really would like for you to meet one of the speakers, Kelly Ingram, at the WOW conference. Her son is autistic, and she is an amazing Christian woman. May I bring you a ticket and you can come and go as your schedule permits? My daughter attends CCMS [This is the school where I teach]. Your blog really touched me.
I had to Facebook-stalk sweet Laura. I looked through a few of her pictures and recognized her daughter. I’ve never taught her child, but I did recognize her. I was intrigued. Why would this woman do this? I think this was the first time I realized people actually get our situation, even if I don’t think they notice.
People are reading what I write. Laura helped me to see people care and some will go to great lengths to let you know they understand your journey. This stranger stepped off the highway of life and walked down this bumpy, rocky, uncertain path with me for just a moment.
It meant everything to me.
I met sweet Laura in person and wasn’t able to put into words what I was feeling during our brief encounter. I hope my words here will show her I believe God used her in an amazing way.
The conference was wonderful and everything I needed it to be on many levels. This stranger didn’t just utter words of encouragement, but she put her thoughts and feelings into action. Laura put her life aside for just a moment to touch my life. I believe she listened when God told her to reach out. Thank you for showing me incredible love, Laura.
May we all be a Laura.