“Why does she do that? ” my 10-year-old asked me recently, while watching her 15-year-old autistic sister draw a picture. The question wasn’t why she was drawing a picture. It was why she had just drawn the same exact picture 15 times in 15 different colors and stacked them neatly in a pile.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the question, “Why does she do that?” Strangers, family members, friends, professionals, have all asked that question regarding certain behaviors of Cadence, time after time. Sometimes I can answer the question, but more often than not, my response is, “I don’t know.”
Cadence has always had some behaviors that I haven’t understood. One time, when she was in kindergarten, she was having a particularly hyper day. I was a little worn out from the struggle, and that night as I was giving her a bath, I got irritated because she kept putting soap suds in her ears! What in the world? “Why are you doing that?” I asked. She is non-verbal and at the time her auditory processing skills were almost nil. So, of course there was no response. She didn’t even act like she heard my question.
The next day I got a call from school. Her ears were draining. I went to pick her up and take her to the doctor and reported to them that she had not one symptom of anything. No fever, no runny nose, no cough. They looked in her ears and she had a full-blown nasty ear infection in both ears. That’s when I had my “Ah hah” moment. The soap suds the night before. That was her means of soothing the pain in her ears.
That moment changed my world. It changed how I looked at her and it changed how I parent. I cried because I had been impatient and irritated with her over the soap suds, when she, in fact, had a perfectly good reason behind her behaviors. In the 10 years that have transpired since then, I have taken a different approach to her behaviors. When my other kids ask, “Why does she do that?” I will often respond, “I don’t know. But I know she has a reason. Maybe we will find out some day.” Sometimes we do find out and then her actions make perfect sense. But even when I don’t understand what she is doing, I never doubt anymore that she has a good reason for doing it.
I have some friends who are really struggling this week. A college dorm mate of mine is burying her 18-year-old daughter tomorrow. Another friend just received some devastating news. I don’t understand why these things are happening. I really don’t. It grieves me to think of their pain. I’ve prayed on their behalf, and cried my own tears, but what I feel is nothing compared to their shattered hearts.
“Why?” We have all asked that question of God. “Why does He do that?” “Why does He let these things happen?” “Why doesn’t He do something about it!?” “Why did He withhold the miracle we prayed for?” “Why?”
I’ve asked it myself. Especially when Cadence was young and I was grappling with what autism meant for our family? She would never sleep. I was so exhausted. I remember asking God why He would withhold sleep from her or me. It seemed like He was just being mean. Sometimes we ask and He doesn’t respond. It seems like He didn’t even hear the question.
People sometimes say we shouldn’t question God, but I’m wondering if we don’t question God, then who else is big enough to handle our questions? Have you read the Psalms? They are full of questions to God. I think we ask Him the hard questions, because He’s the only one with answers.
Watching Cadence has taught me many things and some of those things help me understand God just a little bit more. True, I don’t know why God does what He does sometimes. I don’t know why He allows what He allows. But I now believe with all my heart and trust it in my soul, that He always hears us when we ask and He always has a reason for what he does. Sometimes that reason is revealed and then his actions make perfect sense. Sometimes we don’t see the reason, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I’ve learned to trust that Cadence has a reason behind her actions. She is only human. A flawed, finite being, but created in the image of God to be like Him. God is a super-natural being with all power, all authority, all knowledge, all time, all wisdom, all strength and He is the very definition of love. God is love. He loves us. Anything He allows to happen or anything He chooses to do has a reason. And His actions are filtered through His heart of love.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/author/b4770e”>Ksayer1</a> on <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re/29424e”>Visual Hunt</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”> CC BY-SA</a>