I began to realize that I was not fully appreciating the miracle of Joshua. I would complain about how hard it was to figure out what he wanted. He is nonverbal and has little ability to express himself. There were also times when I complained about him not understanding potty training and not being able to put his clothes on. My mind was always consumed with how I thought things should be rather than accepting how they actually were. When I complained about those things my husband sometimes asked me, “Do you regret having Joshua?” Or he would ask something like, “If you knew then what you know now, would you still have a baby?” I always answered that I do not regret having him because there was so much more joy than frustration and I could not imagine my life without him. I love him so much! Still, these questions my husband asked me were not sinking into my understanding until he broke through my ego concerning our home. It was then that I began to wonder where I was placing Joshua’s value.
Prior to Ray showing me my ingratitude, I had been learning about how to end suffering and obtain peace and happiness. I had learned to focus my attention on accepting the little things, like the weather. I knew there was nothing I could do about the weather, so why bother being upset if it was raining or too cold for my taste? I couldn’t change the weather. I also began to realize that other people’s opinions have nothing to do with me and I began to see that I could not control their opinions or their reactions to any situation. Accepting these things became easier and easier. I started to see I couldn’t change or control anything, but for some reason, it did not sink into my brain that I could accept everything, no matter how big or how small because I had no choice anyway. I read about people who had life-threatening diseases and they were grateful for it. What?! I did not see the point in accepting that, let alone being grateful for it! Especially if it meant I was supposed to be okay with Joshua having disabilities. Nobody wants to be ‘okay’ with their child having a disability; as if accepting it is going to ensure that it never goes away. It feels like we might be saying, ‘I don’t care that they have a disability.’ Even so, just like with the weather, the only choice is to continue suffering, or not.
I couldn’t make Joshua talk or learn, or even want to do those things. It was out of my control. Joshua had showed me this in multiple ways already, with potty training and trying to get him to eat, but I did not realize it applied to every aspect of my life. I had no control of anything outside of myself. I had learned to finally accept that Joshua would always be disabled and I stopped trying to find a ‘cure,’ but I was still seeing his disabilities as flaws. Sure, I had finally accepted the disabilities and I knew there was nothing that could change him, but what I hadn’t understood up until then was that he did not need to be changed. He is perfect just the way he is. He is perfect simply because he lives. His life has a purpose even if I can’t see what it is.
All people can benefit from refocusing our conscious minds on the good in our lives because when we look for good we find it. Likewise, when we look for bad we find it. Gratitude is the easiest way to focus on the good. We must begin to see that without the bad we would not perceive the good. We must also come to see that the bad we perceive is really good in disguise. When we understand that, the miracles are revealed. Our human minds cannot conceive of the wonders of creation in our lives. We must wait for things to unfold before we get the full picture. I would have never thought 25 years ago or even 7 years ago that one day I would see some good in my precious child’s disabilities. I see it now. Our minds must be open to the possibilities in every situation because if we are not open we are denying the fullness of this life God has given us.