How Did I Get Here?

June 27, 2012

Faith At Home, Interact, Time

“How did I get here?” he asked.  One minute he was a wealthy Wall Street trader living the high life in New York City.  The next morning Jack Campbell wakes up to find himself in a suburban New Jersey home with a wife and two kids.  Everything had changed.  Magical?  No.  Hollywood!  I’m referring to Nicolas Cage’s character in the wonderful comedy about second chances, The Family Man.

The “How did I get here?” scenario is a formula that’s often used in movies.  You see the same situation over and over in a variety of movies and videos:  Gulliver’s Travels, Freaky Friday, Heaven Can Wait, and Groundhog Day to name a few.  But did you know that this same scenario can happen to real people, living in a real world?

In a way, people every day, perhaps even you, wake up to find that in an important area of life everything has changed.  In the blink of an eye, you’re miles from where you thought you’d be. 

I should know because it’s happened to me…several times.  The first time was on September 23rd, 1997.  On that day my boys were born.  Yes, I said “boys”: not one, not two, but three…triplets.  That day we went from being a couple to a family of five in the blink of an eye!  We went driving a two-door Camaro to a four door, seven passenger minivan literally overnight.

The second, “How did I get here?” moment occurred in early January 2000.  That was the day the social worker and developmental psychologist sat on our forest green sofa in our living room and quietly announced that two of our boys had been diagnosed as “severely autistic.”  In the blink of an eye, many of the dreams and aspirations that I’d had for my two boys evaporated.  Life was taking me in a direction that I never anticipated.

My most recent “How did I get here?” moment came as the result of our Children’s Pastor, David Holmes, posing one simple question to our Childrens Ministry Team:

“How can we support parents in being more involved in the spiritual development of their children?”

He gave us one week to think about it and then bring back some ideas at our next team meeting.  It was in the process of trying to contribute some answers to this question that I took a long look at my role as a father.  Based on an honest assessment, I realized something had changed in my own home, under my own roof.  In the blink of an eye I realized that in one important area of my children’s lives, they were not as far along as they should be.  That area:  spiritual development.

I have found that it is incredibly easy for all but a few of us to drift away in one or more important areas of our lives.  As a father of several boys with autism I lovingly invested a lot of time, effort, and energy in them.  They needed help in so many areas of their lives:  language, social, play, academics, and self-care to name a few.  Literally every single waking moment was dedicated towards remediating one of the deficits associated with their diagnosis.

It wasn’t intentional, but looking back I realized that I drifted away from my responsibilities as a parent to nurture their spiritual development:

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov.22:6).

God makes it pretty clear that as parents one of our priorities is our child’s spiritual development.  Did you know that a children’s or youth ministry averages about 50-hours a year with your child…and that’s if you’re attending church on a regular basis.  Know how many waking hours that a parent spends with their child in a year?  According to family research it’s 3000-hours a year!  So it’s no wonder that God places the primary responsibility for nurturing a child’s faith on the shoulders of the people who are around them the most…mom and dad.

A friend of mine, a youth pastor, reminded me of this:

“70-years from now the only thing that will truly matter is your child’s relationship with God.” 

Fortunately, the solution for getting back on track is simple:  one small change.  You may have come across the term “Butterfly Effect.”  It’s the idea that a small change can set off big consequences. It comes from Chaos Theory which suggests that the flapping wings of a butterfly in one part of the world can change the complete weather pattern in another part of the globe.  Scripture reminds us that even something as small as a tiny seed can produce big changes:

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt.17:20).

A mustard seed is very, very tiny. But once planted, it grows into a plant large enough to provide valuable food and shelter for animals.  Jesus said a little faith can have incredible results. We don’t need a lot of faith – just as much as a small mustard seed – to provoke great results!  Our God is an awesome God! He wants us to be willing to do His work, even if it’s one small simple change in what we do as parents.  He’ll provide the rest!

Today, I’ve decided that I’m going to trust God’s promise and make one small change in the area of what I do to nurture my children’s spiritual development.  I don’t want to have to ask, “How did I get here?” Instead I want to say, “I know where I’m going.”  And with one small change I can do it.

If you’d like to join me on this journey I could use all the encouragement I can get.  If your a parent of a child with special needs then you know that even one small change can be a challenge!  But in the bigger picture of life’s priorities, our child’s relationship with Jesus is the most important priority there is.  Please subscribe to the blog or click “like” on our Special Friends Ministry facebook page to join me on this journey!

Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA CPI

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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