I’ve tried many different things over the years to help bring me peace and calm my anxiety. Some have been temporary fixes and some have definitely helped over the long haul. It’s sometimes uncanny to me that my daughter and I both struggle with these things, given that we are 34 years apart. At her young age, she has learned to cope with anxiety so much better than I ever have. She’s become such a great advocate for herself and knows when she needs a break or something to calm her. She’s able to recognize the things that will truly bring her peace beyond the moment. Recently she provided me with a much needed reminder about the one thing that has always been there for me, giving me the peace I need. This is how it all played out.
Our daughter prayed the other day. I mean, she says her prayers every day before school, before meals, and before bedtime, but this day was different. We were offering up prayers for help and at first she wasn’t ready to share. Then when we came back around to her, she was so eloquent and clear about what she wanted. She said “I want to ask God for help with the things I have a hard time with”. It blew my mind and brought me to tears, all at the same time. I couldn’t believe the words she chose and how mature she sounded. Just like an old soul. Faith is a hard concept for adults to grasp at times, let alone children. It’s that much harder for a kid with autism, who is very black and white, to trust in something they can’t see.
Flashback to a couple weeks earlier and what was probably our third conversation with our daughter about autism. The first time we asked her what she thought autism was, she said “Autism is beautiful”. The second talk was met with a blank stare. I think this time might have been the first time where she really started to understand that her brain works a little bit differently. We explained that some things, like math, come a bit easier to her, but that other things, like social situations, are a bit more difficult and can cause her stress. We did our best to explain it, but autism is a complicated thing and it’s a hard to describe to an eight year old. I guess she was listening and starting to understand. More importantly, she knew the best way to get some help with the things that are hard for her.
We’ve been part of a wonderful family group at our church for the last few months now and it has been an incredible blessing. Our kids are growing in their faith and it has been so nice for them to be surrounded by other families like ours. Our daughter has also been given the opportunity to do her first communion, something that we thought would never happen. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us and it has had a huge impact on her. She has learned so much and she has shown me how much peace can be found in our faith. I’ve seen her be more present. I’ve seen how calm and focused she is when she is talking about her faith. It’s been amazing to watch and again, a great reminder.
We all have different beliefs, but we can all agree on one thing. Having faith and believing in something, even if it’s just yourself, can bring a serenity like nothing else. It gives you the strength to persevere in difficult times. It gives you the confidence to live each day, each moment to the fullest. It helps sooth your fears and keeps you from worrying about the future.
My faith has always been here, bringing me peace, so long as I have had the strength to put it before everything else. There are lots of things that can help with anxiety and provide a temporary fix, but nothing provides the constant comfort that believing does. All I needed was a reminder from a little girl to turn to it and to ask for help with the things I have a hard time with. You can’t get help if you don’t ask. I haven’t been asking enough, but that is changing now. I choose to have faith first, before I try to find my peace anywhere else. We are on this journey together and I’m so thankful that together, we’ve found our peace in our faith.