Last week I started working a track-out program for children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders or Autism at the Y. This is the first time our branch has had a program for these kids. I have had some experience working with children with high functioning Autism, but not with low functioning kids. I was pretty nervous going into it because I didn’t know what to expect. I had received training, but as with any job, you never really know what you are getting into until you start. Part of me knew I was going to have a lot of fun and would learn a lot over the three weeks, but part of me was nervous about what would happen.
Every day I work there are new challenges and incredible rewards. Yesterday when we were in the pool, I had a kid swim up to me and say, “Ready throw.” It was one of our kids that struggles to communicate without prompting him. Last week if he wanted me to throw him, he would swim up to me and latch on to me. Only after I asked him what he wanted would he say, “Throw.” Then I would say “Ready”, count to three and throw him. Another kid usually asked to be thrown by saying, “One, two, three” but yesterday he swam up to me and said, “Throw me please.” Those moments make every tough situation, like one kid wiping his bagel with cream cheese all over his face and clothes, completely worth it. I find myself leaving work each day having learned something new and having a new memory that melts my heart.
Over the past week, I have had to learn a completely new way to communicate with people. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and challenged daily. These kids are just like any other kid, they just need a little help along the way. They want to play and have fun. They want to learn. They want people to love them. Sometimes it isn’t easy to get them to communicate, or to participate, but the end result is so rewarding. There have been meltdowns when we have tried to get kids to participate in some activities. We have worked through these things and are trying our best to help these kids learn and grow. We know that they don’t have to be defined by a disorder and they can still succeed. It feels so incredible to see the little progress we have seen in the kids in just one week. I never thought I would get so excited about a kid asking me to throw them in a pool. I was so incredibly proud of those kids when they asked me to throw them. I was so happy that they had grown.
I think God feels the same way about us. Some people view God as someone who just wants to rain on your parade. They see God as someone who doesn’t want us to have fun and just wants to control us. I don’t think that is true at all. God wants our best and rejoices when we make steps in that direction. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” God takes delight in us and rejoices over us. He doesn’t just leave us on our own and expect us to figure it all out. He wants us to listen to Him and make the most out of the opportunities He provides us.
When I finally get something God has trying to get me to figure out, it’s like God was the counselor in the pool and I swam up to his and said, “Ready throw” and He has a huge smile and is thinking, “Wow that took a while but Nick finally got it!” Psalm 35:27b says, “The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of His servant.” As tough and hardheaded as we can be, God never gives up on us and delights in our prosperity. He doesn’t want us to fail, and is willing to do anything so we don’t. He is right there with us every step of the way. Don’t think you have to figure it out on your own, God is there to help. God is there to teach us and guide us. He will show us the steps and we can follow Him. Just as I have rejoiced over the success of my campers, God rejoices when we succeed.
until next time…
Comment Question: What is something God has been teaching you?