An Open Letter to a Friend
Years ago my wife and I traveled to Hong Kong to visit her parents who were serving as missionaries. During our stay, we had several opportunities to ride on Hong Kong’s mass transit system of trains, buses, escalators, and taxis. Over every door on the train was a warning and at each stop, as the train doors opened, a beautiful female voice with a lovely Asian-British accent repeated the written warning and announced over the loudspeakers, ‘Please mind the gap.’
The ‘gap’ she was referring to was a small space, just outside the base of the door, between the threshold of the train and the platform. It was a tiny area, spanning only about two inches. But those two inches were enough to catch your toe and trip you up on your journey. As I listened to that voice repeat that phrase during the week, I was struck by the significance of such a little matter.
Each of us deals with gaps or obstacles in our life. And we all face them for the same reason, they are the morals of our stories.
‘Sandwiched between [our] ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after’, [is] opposition in all things, for without it we could not discern the sweet from the bitter…adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way. Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger, and experience joy.’ (Uchtdorf)Autism happens to be a major conflict in my family’s story. Your story, though similar in some respects, will be different; your story may involve conflicts like Autism, but it might not. It might involve premature deaths, cancers, broken homes, unemployment, disease, or a myriad of sundry other conflicts or characters. This much I do know. My story, my family’s story, is directly proportionate to yours, whatever it may be, and each story is tailor fit to do one thing: bring each of us home, happily ever after with our Father in Heaven. That is of course, if we can just learn and apply the morals of the story.
I won’t lie, I will be glad when there are no more meltdowns, no turmoil, and no deep pressure therapy. I won’t miss finding the end of my phone charger cut off, or having sticky tape melted to my dress socks. I won’t miss spit on the carpeting, or cheeseburger being spit in my hands. I won’t miss pat downs, searches, frisks, or urine in the trashcan. But I will miss his need to hold my hand, my need for a bigger chair, the joy he finds in rain, those quotes he conjures up out of nowhere that seem to fit perfectly to the situation, or those… Well, you get the picture.
You might feel sorry for me because of the challenges we face. Please don’t, I wouldn’t trade you for your challenges, even if you paid me. Besides, they wouldn't fit they aren't interchangeable. I love my story. Sure, certain chapters are a little rough, but nothing worthwhile is ever gained easily. Ethan describes this principle best when he says, 'That's because Emma is trying to kill me!'
So, I will continue to write about my story. I will write with the hope that you can find some ‘much needed humor, inspiration or just reminders of why we’re here.’ And, if I can just apply the morals of my story, learn patience, keep repenting, learn to apply the lessons from the opportunities as they come, and keep finding joy in the journey, then maybe, just maybe, in the end I will get to hear something like this:
‘Dad, what do we say?’
‘I don’t know Ethan, what do we say?’
‘Dad we say, ‘Mission accomplished’!’