NORTHWEST, AR – “I’m tired of caring for Miles.” I actually spoke those words out loud in our small group. Keith and I have the privilege of teaching a group of young married couples every Sunday morning. We knew God wanted us to share with them what was going on in our lives. I didn’t want to. Sharing our lives and struggles with them is usually easy, but we were tired and our lives felt extra messy that day. I don’t mind sharing my messy life with people, but I prefer to do it after God works, restores and redeems. But God was asking us to share our hearts in the midst of being weary. But it just felt like a big ask.
These two words have been running through my head all month. We just celebrated Miles' 8th birthday, and his birthdays always throw me in a funk. I celebrate knowing he is being remembered. I celebrate his physical age, but developmentally, emotionally and mentally, we are nowhere near that number. And it’s just hard. Every year that goes by, I find myself grieving where I thought we’d be. I read posts from years past and realize we haven’t come as far as I thought we had or hoped we would.
But this year, it seemed heavier. I couldn’t help but wonder if I can do this for eight more years? And then eight more? And then eight more after that?
Keith spoke those words to me as I stood in an ocean washing sand off of me. I had been playing in the sand with our friends’ children and I told Keith I forgot how fun it was to play with kids that can play back. Playing with Miles is work. Keeping Miles safe is work. Keeping others safe from Miles is work. And because he has no self-care skills and is not potty trained, caring for his physical needs is a lot of work. The role of caregiver can be exhausting. And lonely.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good…”
God has been speaking these words over me the last month. He has been whispering them to my heart because He knows I am tired. And weary. He has been reminding me that “… in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). But that is so hard when you are walking through what could be the rest of your life on this earth.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh…”
God is using this verse found in Galatians 5 to bring clarity to my weariness. When I say I am tired of caring for Miles, what I actually mean is I am tired of what caring for Miles requires from me. It requires a daily dying to self, a daily crucifying of flesh and a daily decision to lay my life down so Jesus can shine. Crucifixion was such a slow and painful way to die. So when we are told to be crucified with Christ, when we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we need to be prepared for that death to be slow and painful.
"I never want to be the me before Miles."
Those words are just as true today as the day I first spoke them. Caring for Miles is the hardest thing I've ever done, and it is the greatest privilege of my life. Nothing has ever challenged me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and eternity more than the gift of Miles who has the gift of Autism.
"So, how are you doing?"
I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and ask you that question. I wonder today what has you feeling tired and weary? What has you feeling defeated? What "gift" has God given you that feels too big and too heavy? Don't give up. Don't give in. Don't lose heart. Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus.
Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God, the Creator of the whole world never gets weary or tired. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary. Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Lord will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run - never winded, never weary. They will walk - never tired, never faint" (Isaiah 40:28-3).
Read more about Jackie's journey here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jackie Harmon is wife to Keith, the Marriage and Family Pastor at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas. Together they have two sons, Alex and Miles. Read more about their family on their blog.