The Label

The tics are more pronounced than normal.  Perhaps it is the stressful week we have had.  Perhaps it is the special meetings that have caused the bedtimes to be put back an couple hours.  Perhaps… then I remember the doctor told me:  “They will come and go; and you will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out the cycle.”

I have tried to heed the doctor’s advice given to me years ago when she wrote the words - Tourette Syndrome -  on the line following the word ‘diagnosis’.  

Another label.  
The list gets longer.  

Some days it is easy to forget the words on the diagnosis line; but most days it is not.  This day – it’s impossible.   By the end of the day, I am sure it will becoming a day that is marked by the diagnosis.  Like a big fat red X marked on a calendar date.  TOURETTES DAY.

I repeat the next spelling word for the test.   

His eyes blink - four times.   
His jaw opens wide and clicks - three times.   
His head twists to touch his shoulder – two times.   
Then, and only then, he writes the word. 

They call them tics – those repetitions that *just* happen (like tremors that afflict the elderly man battling Parkinson’s). 

I try to ignore them.  It’s hard.   They say it is harder on those watching than on those with the debilitating diagnosis.    I’m not sure I agree with that statement.

I get ready to say the next spelling word; but before I start, he looks up at me and with tears filling his eyes; but not yet spilling over, “Why did God give me Tourrettes?”    His big green eyes look deep into my soul and emotionally he is screaming for an answer. 

I start to talk – to try again to answer his question.  He has asked it before.   Sometimes he finishes the question with the word ‘Autism’ or ‘Celiac’; but today the last word is ‘Tourettes’.    

Regardless of the word change – it’s still the same question. 

 I open my mouth to answer and he quickly changes his question.  (He’s heard my answer before)

“Why did God, allow me to have Tourettes?”   He struggles to get the word 'allow' out of his mouth.  (Like it is a word that is hard for his tongue to master it’s articulation).  He finishes his question with a statement I am not sure his whole heart has embraced, “I know God didn’t GIVE me Tourettes…” 

I’m sitting there spell bound.  (I always am when this question comes up).  Amazed that one so young is asking the question that took me years to formulate in my mind.  The one I was afraid to ask.  I got stuck on that question – even as a ‘grown up’ Christian. I’ve talked to a lot of grownups that are still asking that question.   

For me the words to the question ended a little differently; but it was the same question:  

“Why did God let my baby die?”

Others have asked that question to me about God. 

“Why did God let my husband leave me?”  
 “Why did God let my family disown me?”  
 “Why did God let that Pastor fall and betray my trust?”  
 “Why did God make me have cancer?”

 Same question.    

I’m spellbound; not because I do not know the answer to the question – but at the awesomeness that one so young is asking a question so deeply profound.  Could it be that Tourrettes or Autism or Celiac will be avenues that will BUILD his faith in God?  I can’t help but think how strong his faith will be when he reaches the age that I was when I finally was able to articulate my question about God.   It is at that moment when I start to see the words on the line as more than a diagnosis.  Could they actually be words of blessing  Words marking opportunities?   

Within a label there is always weakness. 

We all have labels. 

Could it be the labels that we have are really blessings in disguise?  

For Zak it is:  Autism, FAS, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Celiac Disease, Hearing Impaired.   
For me it was 'Bereaved' and 'Depressed'.  
For others it is ‘Widowed’ or ‘Cancer Patient’ or ‘Disowned’.   

All the words label us with weakness.

Could these diagnoses – these labels -actually be words of HOPE?

When we view them as avenues where God can show Himself strong the limits of the labels cease and are replaced with HOPE.  Isn’t that what the Bible tells us?  That when we are weak – HE is stronger than our weakness?   

God is stronger than autism or bereavement or of abandonment.    

In the very clutches of what weakens us; we are given the opportunity to see just HOW much stronger God is than that label that limits us. 

I try to formulate the words in my mind before I speak them to Zak.  I don’t want to build up false hope – or to take away from the strength of the lesson that can be learned from the answer to the question being asked.  The lesson is simple:  Everything can point us to God.  Everything!  When I focus on myself, my weakness, my hurt, my loneliness  - I despair; but when I allow those things to guide my eyes to how much bigger my God is than the things that afflict me, my afflictions then become magnifying glasses to how great God is!

I want Tourettes to point him to how great God is. 

I want autism to point him to how powerful God is.
I found through my bereavement how strong His embrace was to me when I ran to Him in need of comfort  
    and healing. 

The abandoned and hurt can see through the tears the God who NEVER leaves, NEVER hurts,  and 
    NEVER is selfish. 

Everything can point us to God.  Everything.

I find a voice amid my barrage of theological thoughts.   “God did not GIVE you tourettes, Zak. He allowed it.  He could have stopped it and made sure you did not have autism or tourettes; but He chose not to; because He wants you to depend upon Him and because He is going to use this in your life for some purpose.”  I  then quote Romans 8:28; and he nods his head as he listens to verse (I have quoted it to him many times before). 

 I have found that I don’t need God to rescue me out of my problems and take them away as much as I need to allow my labels to  point me to the greatness of God.   

 In so doing, He rescues me from MYSELF. 

I finish quoting the verse and Zak sniffles, and wipes the tears away from his cheeks.  His long eyelashes are still wet from the tears; but he speaks, 

“Maybe someday I will be able to help a boy with Tourettes.”

“Maybe,"  I say. 

“Or maybe someday I will be able to tell people about Jesus because I have autism.”

 I nod and try to keep the tears from coming into my eyes.  “Should we pray and ask God to help you with your tics today?”   

He nods and we pray.  I don’t pray that God will take the tics away.  I thank God for giving Zak to me and allowing me to be his Mom.  (How much I have learned from this little boy!) I thank God for allowing Zak to have tics so he can have opportunities to trust in God to help him.   I ask God to use Zak to point people to Jesus.

I hand him a tissue and then we continue the test. 

I say the next spelling word .  

His eyes blink - four times.  
His jaw opens wide and clicks - three times. 
His head twists to touch his shoulder  - two times.  
Then he writes the spelling word on his paper.  

When he finishes writing, he looks up me and smiles.  I smile back; and we continue with school.

He passed the test with a 100%.  

He also got a 100% on the Spelling test!

1 comment:

Called to Make the Difference said...

Wow! This was beautifully written and such an encouragement! Thank you for your uplifting spirit and for giving glory to God - even in the valley! Yes, even in the valley God is good!