Have you ever thought about what your purpose in life is? One example may be the acquisition of material wealth , though these things can certainly be a by product when one fulfills their life purpose. Some people believe their sole purpose in life is to make lots of money, sometimes at the expense of their relationships/ families. It can be very tempting/ alluring, but is it really worth it in the end? As the saying goes “ you can’t take it with you”. I doubt most of us will be thinking about our bank accounts on our deathbeds. Instead, we will be reflecting upon family, friends, and others who added love and meaning to our lives, as well as our own contributions during our brief time here on earth.
There is a distinct difference between the material and the soulful: one is temporary and the other is eternal. Material things are satisfying for a season, but will never quench the desires of your spirit. Of course we all enjoy the trappings that money can buy and those things in themselves are not the problem. The issue becomes when material things become our priority at the expense of our relationships. We have all seen the disastrous effects of what happens when bad choices are made in this regard. No one really wants that to be their life story or ending. It’s just not worth it and it simply won’t matter in the end.
I have always been fascinated by Brian’s lack of interest in any material things. Christmas and birthday presents, for example, mean absolutely nothing to him. He has recently showed some interest in unwrapping gifts this past Christmas, but his attention to the actual gifts themselves were fleeting. For a long time, I felt very sad that the toys we thoughtfully purchased meant absolutely nothing to our son: it was just another reminder of autism stealing something else that was a basic pleasure to most. I had to remind myself that this was not about what I wanted for Brian, but what he wants for himself. As his Mom, my job is to provide Brian with opportunities and exposure to as many things in life as I can, but ultimately I must respect his choices, as hard as that can be at times. It took a very long time for me to learn and accept this fact.
When I learned to become more of a student of Brian, rather than his teacher, I began to discover my true purpose in this life. Don’t get me wrong- teaching our children is very important and fundamental to their development, but sometimes we can get so caught up in the weeds of accomplishments/ expectations for our kids that our priorities can get out of order- how important is XYZ? Will ABC really matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now? How about what they really want? What will ultimately make our children happy? How can we go about helping our children live their best lives on their terms, without losing ourselves in the process? These questions were the segue that lead me to becoming a student of Brian. After a long time of sheer exhaustion and often frustration, I was finally confronted by a thought on one particularly difficult day: do I want to just survive this special needs life or actually thrive in it, despite the inevitable obstacles ? Do I believe this is even remotely possibly? Yes, I desperately wanted to believe, since I was near the end of my proverbial rope. I figured I had nothing to lose at that point and potentially something to gain, so I was more than willing to try- anything!
I will admit that being a student of Brian is a tricky business: he has severe learning disabilities and is nonverbal. It has taken countless hours of observation to understand certain behaviors and learn what Brian is thinking. Augmentative communication has certainly bridged the gap of the unknown, for which I’m extremely grateful. At least I have some insights as to what Brian’s thoughts and preferences are and I do believe there is even more from him to learn and always will be. It’s just very slow to surface, often requiring a great deal of patience and a belief that things will unfold in their own time. I have also learned through my mistakes and experience as Brian’s Mom. Ultimately, what Brian really wants is what all of us want: to love and be loved. It’s that simple! My job, I discovered, is to provide those opportunities that will realize those desires of Brian’s heart. By the grace of God, I try to do so, one day at a time…My hope is that I can continue in this mission until my last breath.
My life’s purpose doesn’t mean that I lose myself or what is important to me in the process. When you are a student of your special child, with an important mission to accomplish, you ultimately learn to create a balanced life for yourself out of necessity. The long haul requires it. Brian will not benefit if I don’t take care of myself, so I make sure now to take breaks, big and small. I read for pleasure, write, and exercise. I try to eat well, and more recently, take quick cat naps. It’s the best acts of self love that I can do, which in turn, allows me to love others and engage in meaningful relationships. I am so grateful for these gifts. My cup no longer runs empty when I make a daily decision to do these things. It’s that simple. If I choose not to, I definitely feel the adverse effects right away. I am getting better at self care and ultimately Brian benefits, so it is always worth pursuing.
My life purpose, My Heart, was a gift given to me almost 19 years ago from Heaven. This precious baby boy was not the one that I expected, but in time, I came to deeply love and appreciate the beautiful person he is and the rich life that I do have, because of my special son. In the middle of tears and hardships in the special needs life, there has also been the most intense love I have ever known. When I thought I lacked a voice or an ability to speak up, Brian taught me how to fervently advocate for him. During times of absolute despair and sadness, I have witnessed incredible perseverance and persistence from a severely disabled young man who only asks for love and to be loved. Brian is Love Personified, the perfect teacher to show what will always be important in this life. All I have to do is follow his lead..❤️❤️❤️❤️
Until next time, thanks for reading! 😊