This is how we spend most meals. Sam sitting at his normal place and Lacey (aka “the Black Dog”) with her head in his lap. Now, lest you think, “Oh, that is so sweet of Lacey” or “Oh, look, a boy and his dog!” or some other thought that makes this black furry creature look so sweet, the only reason Lacey’s head is on Sam’s lap is she is waiting to seize the opportunity when Sam spills some food, then she gets her reward! What a smart dog! Her wait ALWAYS pays off as Sam spills something every meal.
Waiting for the reward, patience and persistence. These words sum up the life of raising a child with special needs – especially patience and persistence. There is not a day that goes by where we don’t have to have an extra dose of patience with Sam. Change is hard for Sam. Not just big changes like going to a new store or having a new experience, really any change. If Sam has his mind set on something, it is extremely difficult to get him off-center – almost impossible.
For instance, Sam is extremely possessive of his backpack and videos that he stores within that backback. When I say extremely possessive, those words are an understatement. Very rarely will he not have his backpack in his possession. When he goes to the bathroom he even takes it in with him. If we want to search his backpack for anything – or convince him to not have 30 or 40 movies in it, we have to start talking about it several hours in advance. Sometimes, after much talking and reassuring and trying to explain things, Sam will allow us to look in his backpack. If we just went in and grabbed it from him, we better be ready to do some battle!
Waiting, patience, persistence … sometimes life is difficult. Sometimes it seems all we do is wait, forcing us to have patience and testing our persistence. Waiting for that positive behavior, that change, that hard time to be over – waiting for that reward. With Sam, rewards comes every day in some degree. It comes when he spontaneously gives one of us a hug – or joins the family by sitting on the couch – or tells us by answering yes or no with his left arm, what he wants for breakfast – or when his bed is dry in the morning – or when he joyfully comes with us into a store – or when he lays on the ground using Lacey as his pillow (that is when she is a good dog!) – Every day we experience rewards with Sam!
Life gets hard sometimes – for all of us. Relationships are challenging, the job situation is not the best, a health issue creeps up, money is tight. It is when life is hard that sometimes we just need to wait and have patience and persistence. Give the situation to God and wait. Sometimes we have to wait longer than we would like, but that is life. It reminds me of Romans 5:3-4, “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character hope…” What a great verse to remember as we go through difficult times!
In what areas of your life are you experiencing waiting, patience and perseverance?