Seeing Rightly

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  (Antoine de Saint Exupéry)

I’m writing this post both to let you know I’ll be absent from the blogosphere for a while and to ask you for your most sincere and earnest good thoughts and prayers.

When I talk about our troubles in an oblique way, without giving many details, I’m not trying to be mysterious or melodramatic.  In fact, I wish I could tell you everything, to ease the burden I carry, but so much of it involves other people whose privacy I don’t wish to compromise.  Plus, who wants to hear all our trials?  It’s certainly too much to expect folks to listen to some endless recitation of our latest tribulations.  As I wrote in an earlier post, I start to feel almost embarrassed to relate another hardship.  I think, sub-consciously (or not), many people start to wonder if we’re somehow bringing this on ourselves.  You might wonder how could so many bad  things happen to one family or what we might have done to displease God.  Lord knows, I have sure wondered that.

And that is why I withdraw when things get overwhelming.  No matter how much people tell you that you should reach out to others (and I believe you should, which is why I’m writing this), the truth is, those others have their own problems, and I can’t realistically expect them to shoulder my burdens when it seems mine are endless. 

But I can and will ask you for your kindest thoughts and for your most sincere prayers.  Especially for my son Benjamin.  Long-time readers already know that Benjamin is autistic and that navigating the world is far more of a struggle for him than anyone knows.  And long-time readers also know that Benjamin’s had a tough time of it in the last two years.  An appendectomy, the loss of several loved ones, and a broken back (with lingering pain) have just added to his burden, and he has struggled for a while with depression.

And it all finally became more than he could bear.  He’s in the hospital now.  I’m telling you that because there is no shame in it.  The greater shame is in some of the things that contributed to his being where he is now.  The relentless bullying he endured when he was little when the adults that should have intervened, didn’t, for one.  I can’t tell you how many times teachers said (and they all knew he was autistic), “Oh, bullying’s just a natural part of growing up.  He needs to learn to stand up for himself.”

I’ve written before—extensively—about all the ways the world rejects those who are different (just click on “Autism” in my sidebar if you want to read those posts). But I’ll say again—please teach your children well.  Teach them first and foremost to be kind. I believe there is nothing more important.  And children learn kindness from their parents.  So…be kind.  Consistently.  If you are, you’ll never reject others because they are different.  If you are kind, you will love folks for who they are, whether they fit your narrow definition of “normal” or not.  And maybe, just maybe, you’ll figure out that perhaps they have something to teach you—something that may expand not only your mind, but your heart.

But right now, Benjamin’s heart is broken.  So is ours.  We have never felt such deep and profound grief.  So I ask you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the good thoughts and prayers you can muster.  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening.


27 Responses to “Seeing Rightly”

  1. betsyfromtennessee Says:

    Oh Beth, I am so sorry… I am going through a health issue with one of my sons also which just breaks my heart —so I know how you feel. Like me, you can’t fix it… That makes it harder for a Mama…

    I will keep you and your family –and Benjamin in my prayers. Bless his heart. I ache all over for him -and for you…

    Please keep me posted.

    Much Love and Lots and Lots of Prayers, Beth.

  2. Chris Says:

    Praying for Benjamin and for all who love him. Bullying does inflict life long travails. I hope you all fine solace and comfort somewhere.

  3. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Dear Beth, I’m going to email you my phone number — because I know how to listen without being overwhelmed. Of course, Benjamin and you and the whole family are in my prayers. Hang in there, dear friend. We love you and are aching for you.

    ~~~ Bonnie

  4. June Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this Beth…my prayers are with you and your family.

  5. CountryDew Says:

    I am really sorry to hear about your sorrows, Beth. I will be thinking and prayer for you and your family, and especially Benjamin. He is not alone though I know he probably feels like it right now. Bless you for standing by him.

  6. Jayne Says:

    Rainbows will follow, smiles will come, peace of spirit will prevail… love you dear friend.

  7. Rider Says:

    You’re so intelligent and so good that I wish you would continue writing, even when your spirits are low. All of us — all your readers, that is — can learn from you.

    You said that, if you were to continue writing, then we “might wonder how . . . so many bad things [could] happen to one family or what [you] might have done to displease God.”

    No. We. Won’t.

    We don’t know the Bible as well as you, but we know the stories of Job and Jesus. We know both men suffered BECAUSE they were blameless. You see, suffering’s an equal opportunity harm. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure of one thing. I’m pretty sure folks end up as better people when they reach suffering’s far side.

    I know you’re a stubborn woman, and I know you’re gonna’ do what you’re gonna’ do. Still, I’ll do my part, whether you continue to write or not. I’ll keep all your family — and especially Benjamin — in my prayers.

  8. Martha Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Beth. As a mother, I can feel your pain. I wish I was closer so I can come over with some freshly-baked cookies, pour you a cup of coffee and just listen as you unloaded some of your grief. Sure we all have our own problems, but by reaching out to each other, we hold each other up. I will pray for all of you, but especially for your son.

  9. Nancy Says:

    Oh, Beth, this just breaks my heart. I’m sorry. Life can just be so hard some times. I’m glad Benjamin has you and I’m glad you have him. I’m thankful he’s safe and that others are trying to help. I’ll keep you and yours in my heart and in my prayers. Please keep writing.

  10. blueridgedreaming Says:

    Keeping you (and Benjamin) closely in our hearts.

  11. Elora Says:

    Sending you caring and love, Beth…


  12. Matt & Marie Says:

    As parents of a bullied child and who were bullied ourselves for being a little different, you have our understanding, shared grief, and prayers that you and yours will find strength and healing in good relationships with others in community.

  13. Ariel Says:

    I love you, Mommy.

  14. Jes Says:

    My love and prayer and thoughts to you & your family.

  15. eemilla Says:

    Wishing you blessings, peace, and love.

  16. Debi Says:

    I’m with Rider. I wish you would keep writing. But I know how you feel. I think you and I talked about it before–how much to share, what people will think, etc. I know what I think when I read about other people’s problems: I am not alone.

    Perhaps you should keep blogging and don’t publish it. Put it away. I bet major breakthroughs will happen if you give yourself that freedom.

    I will be thinking about you and Benjamin. I hate hearing he’s having a tough time. Just from his posts on here I can see that he’s an amazing, loving young man.

  17. Elaine Says:

    Beth…may God bless and keep you and your family in his loving hands. You are in our prayers!!

  18. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    I am so sorry, Beth. I will pray for you, Ben and all of your family. As you know, my son had Autism and still has a lot of the quirks associated with the disorder. I worry constantly about someone bullying him, especially as he gets older and the children become more aware of how diffierent he is.

    Ben will get through this. He just came to a point where he felt there was no other option. But through therapy and support, he will find his way. And prayers will do wonders. God can do anything and that includes helping Ben.

  19. The Southern Lady Says:

    Beth, I am so sorry to hear that something else has happened with your family and Benjamin. My thoughts and prayers are with you all and I pray that something gets better for you soon. May God be with you at this time and love to you all.

  20. Vicki Lane Says:

    Dear Beth, I have you in my heart and will check back, hoping to find that things have improved.

  21. Darla Says:

    Dearest Beth, sending (((prayers))) and (((peace)))…

  22. C.J. Says:

    Dear Beth,
    My whole heart just aches for you. It makes me so angry when people dismiss bullying while most will acknowledge the early years of a human’s life are the most formative. To me that’s contradictory, but to many, it’s like they think it’s okay to send children into battle and those that lose somehow “deserve it” because they weren’t tough enough or smart enough or clever enough. I think it parallels the meanness and bullying of our current social and political climate.
    I hear over and over that children are “resilient,” but it’s that they have no other choice- they do not hold the power or the knowledge. A survival instinct just keeps them waking up and living in the world someone else creates for them. And then, when they are older, their “choices” may be warped by those learned feelings of powerlessness and alienation.
    And again, there are those, as you fear, who are waiting to assess blame. It’s been so disturbing to see the growing religious trend to claim that success is God-granted and if one says loudly “GOD is behind ME and MY GROUP, and not THEM, so therefore anything WE do or say is HIS way!” then that means others who are not with them or experiencing success in gaining power or wealth or “happiness” are simply undeserving in God’s eyes.
    I feel such people are grasping for any baseness and wrath in the Christian Bible (or Koran) to justify their actions while they trample over the teachings of Jesus (or Mohammad). When you write, Beth, I hear the quiet, thoughtful, loving messages of Jesus again. I am so very sorry for your pain and I thank you for your courage to share it with us and your courage to show that when life gets ugly, we don’t have to too. You have a beautiful soul.

  23. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Amen to that, Beth. You do have a beautiful soul. I’m still here to talk, whenever, and I’m still praying for you and Benjamin and the whole family.

  24. wonderky Says:

    I’m praying. May the Holy Spirit guide you and your family.

  25. Vicki Lane Says:

    Checking back — was glad to see your comment today!

  26. Lindy Says:

    I am so late reading this…I hear you and send love and healing thoughts to you and Ben and your family.

    I think human beings have got such a long way to go before they can even acquire the tiniest bit of Grace, and it is so true what you said “teach your children well” to be kind and understanding.
    The sad fact is that the kind gentle attitude to anyone a bit different, just does not seem to be coming through.

    Some people are just naturally thoughful and kind, and it is instilled in the home. My own children (grown adults now) saw bullying in their schools, and always were able to step up and stop it happeneing.
    Please know that what you write, and how you speak out will make a difference. And that Ben has you, is the greatest support you can do. Best regards.

  27. Bikbik & Roro Says:

    o Beth, I see from the date of this post that this happened last year, and yet it was not so long ago either, and my heart aches for you and your son. has it resolved? gotten better? (I’m still going through and discovering your blog).
    I know I cannot fully grasp the challenges you face, but I’ve had some taste of that anger and hurt that goes with bullying (I wrote a little about it here: you write so well, and you are so right. please know that you are definitely in my prayers, and do feel free to email me any time.

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