Death of a Dream, Life of So Much More!

Jaime Rafferty and Son BeauI am very pleased to have Jaime Rafferty, author of Finding the Right Piece: Using Laughter and Faith in the Puzzle of Life (Crossbooks Publishing), share this precious post today about letting go of our own dreams for our children only to discover the thrilling life that God intends for them.

Now for Jaime’s post:

Could the first part of the title of this post possibly be any more depressing?  I might as well have called it, “A Visit from the Grim Reaper”.

Growing up, I don’t really recall the desire to be a mom. It was because I wasn’t sure I would be any good at it… and low and behold, some days I am not. (Smiles.) Poor Beau and Brynna, my children, but thank God for a wonderful Daddy…YOU GO PAUL!

Although I didn’t have this longing, the elation I had when I found out we were pregnant with our first child, Beau (as well as the 2nd time with Brynn), took away any doubt about my reservations of becoming a parent.

If I am honest, when we have children (by birth or adoption), we sometimes impress our own dreams — dreams that have gone by or been lost — upon them.  If we are “lucky”, they may carry the passion for something that we did in our youth, or perhaps go in a direction that amazes us and surpasses anything we could have dreamed up for them or ourselves.

For some parents, though, it seems that some of our dreams go unfulfilled in our children. I know that must sound selfish, right?  Please bear with me.

When Beau began showing signs of autism, both Paul and I had more emotions than we knew what to do with.  When he was diagnosed, although it was a relief to put a name to his perplexing behavior, we realized that many of the dreams we had for our son may never come to fruition.

Some thoughts that haunted us were:

Will he fit in with other kids? 

Will he have trouble in school?

Will he ever play sports?

Will he have the ability to learn?

Will he ever be potty trained?

Will he graduate from high school?

Will he be able to go to college?

Will he get married?

Will he ever be able to work full-time?

Will he be able to live on his own?

Who would take care of him if something should happen to us?

Some of those questions may seem petty, however they were very real feelings for us. Perhaps a dream that you once had was not in God’s plan for your life, and if so, then you completely understand what I am saying.

I have had the absolute honor of speaking with a young mom, Whitney.  She and her husband recently had their third child (another BOY!!). This joy has been somewhat clouded by issues they are facing with their oldest son. When we spoke for the first time, our stories were eerily similar…tantrums, peculiar behaviors/quirks, lack of social skills and so on. Although her son did not have a diagnosis, I was pretty sure by her description that our sons shared the same fate: autism. This was confirmed when he received a formal diagnosis. I wish autism on no family!  Paul and I know the struggles and heartache it can bring.

For me, I honestly try to find the blessings. As Beau’s mom, looking for the unseen blessing in autism helps me cope with the reality of dreams unrealized: often times societal dreams parents may have for kids.

I know that were it not for autism, I may not have the love and compassion for many other things. It is from our experience with Beau that I can say that.

Paul and I truly have seen LOVE, nurturing and so much more out of that diagnosis.

Jaime Rafferty with daughter Brynna and son Beau

This love comes from the people that have worked with Beau, from Beau himself, from our families, and especially our sweet girl Brynn. (Smiles.) Have we seen the stares, heard the ugly comments and felt a lack of understanding?  Yep, we’ve seen all of that.  However the good has far outweighed the bad!

When Whitney told me of their diagnosis, though I was saddened, I knew it wasn’t a death sentence.  The news could be so much worse. It took me back to the way Paul and I felt so many years before. Whitney had a right to grieve this news. That’s her baby!! We, too, had our share of feelings of anger and confusion (and sometimes we still do)!

It’s almost like we mourned the thought of a “normal” existence for Beau, and for us, too.  The thing, at least for right now, is that Beau’s existence is completely normal to him. He is a 10 year old, often blissfully happy, fun-loving little boy.

We are the ones with crazy dreams for him. (Smiles.) He hates sports, and it would be cruel and unusual punishment for us to make him even try them. This summer while on vacation, Beau approached the sales rack at a Nike store and picked up a shirt he knew was made for him, it read, “You are a sports blooper

waiting to happen.”  Praise God that we can laugh over some of these thoughts now, 6 years after our diagnosis.

I don’t think I ever prayed that God would take autism away from Beau.  Paul may have, but I’m not sure.  The reason I wouldn’t is this:

We could all learn a few lessons from Beau Rafferty. 

Beau is honest (to a fault…LOL), he makes no judgements (at least he doesn’t verbalize them), he has an amazing sense of humor (WOO-HOO), and he is a WONDERFUL big brother to Brynn (and she likewise is a terrific sister!).

After seeing all those wonderful attributes,
what more could Paul and I have dreamed for our son?
Though autism wasn’t something Paul and I planned for…God did!

As I become closer to the Lord, I have seen and used many verses in our blog, in our book and in our life, but when I think of rearing our children, only ONE comes to mind.  I’m thankful because God uses this verse with Paul and I whenever things in our life, as it relates to Beau, become difficult for us to handle. Today I share this favorite, a verse loved by many:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

 — Jeremiah 29:11 

I now realize that it’s not for Paul or me to know Beau’s plan — we will leave it to the One who created Beau.

Here is a little something that blessed me whenever I am worried about Brynna or Beau: I inserted both of their names where it says “you” in Scripture: “For I know the plans I have for you, Brynna, declares the LORD….” Talk about assurance!

This verse is often used as a reassurance for our own lives and walk with God, but I have chosen to also use it when I worry about the “lost dreams” for my kids. The verse reminds me that there is NO such thing as a lost dream!  There is a plan at work — a plan to prosper them (spiritually) and give them MORE than any earthly parent could ever dream!!!!

Just because Beau has autism, Paul and I still have the responsibility, as followers of Christ, to plant the seeds of faith through our daily living. It is up to me to know what Beau understands and what he doesn’t. It’s God who grants wisdom through understanding.

I don’t have a crystal ball and don’t need one as a child of God!  His word speaks my future when I remain in Him. His word speaks a future for my children if they remain in Him also!

It’s the death of our old dreams (without Him) that is exactly what must happen for us to get one step closer to the fulfilling life that He has in store for us!

I pray for you today: Perhaps there have been dreams that have died in your life or in the lives of your children. I insert YOUR name into Jeremiah 29:11 and let HIM reassure you.  Though trials will come, our hope lies in the overall plan for our future. When we LET him, we can live a life far more blessed and peaceful than anything we could have ever “dreamed” up. (Smiles.)

Finding the Right PieceAbout Jaime: 

Jaime Rafferty has a degree in speech communication. She has worked in public health for ten years, and she currently co-hosts a local television show. She enjoys speaking publicly about autism and how it has impacted the Rafferty family. Jaime and her family live in Kentucky. You can connect with Jaime on her blog at: http://findingtherightpiece.blogspot.com.