We moved to Fairfield nearly twelve years ago when my husband became the pastor of North Side Baptist Church. While I am one of those rare individuals who loves to move, I am always apprehensive about how it will affect our autistic son Brock. This move was no exception.
I had done all I knew to do in order to prepare Brock for the move, but was it enough? He was leaving behind the home he’d known for eleven years, a church family who had loved him well, and a sheltered workshop where he had friends and gained a small level of independence. It was also the first time in his life that he was moving to a new location as our only preacher’s kid, since our other two children were now grown and living on their own.
While I knew without a doubt that God was leading us to make this move and I found myself excited about the new place of ministry, I will admit I worried about Brock. Yes, God calls us not to worry, but for me at least, that is easier said than done. One of my favorite Bible verses is I Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. But still I worried.
Finally, after days of packing and preparations, I put those worries aside and we headed to the changes awaiting us in our new location.
I’ve given a great deal of thought to the concept of change since that time and three things stick out to me.
Fact #1 – Change is hard.
Change is hard enough for people like you and me, but research indicates that autistic individuals have an especially difficult time with change. They do best with routines in place and when nothing unexpected comes along. That’s why I worried, wondering if Brock would be able to handle all of the changes the move would bring.
In hindsight, I can honestly say all of that worry was a total waste of time! I was reminded once again that our Brock is really quite resilient and flexible.
Fact #2 – Change is hard, but it is also good.
By moving Brock to Fairfield, he gained a whole new church family to love him. People like John and Brad who are always willing to give and receive a hug (Brock is a hugger). People like Marti who makes him feel important on a regular basis. People like Bill and Linda who invite him to the farm for family get-togethers.
Brock also found new activities to enjoy in Fairfield. Feeding the ducks and geese at the park, playing softball in the summer, and exploring the countryside. Brock also discovered that Fairfield and all of the surrounding towns have festivals – and he likes to go to all of them, if for no other reason than to get his fill of ribbon fries, burgers, funnel cakes, and cotton candy. He especially looks forward to Fairfield’s Fall Fun Fest each year, a four-day event that he’s able to attend more than once. It’s that festival that leads me to a third fact about change.
Fact #3 – Change often results in improvement.
When Fairfield’s Fall Fun Fest concludes late on Saturday night, the organizers work hard cleaning up the downtown area where attendees have congregated throughout the event, enjoying food, entertainment, and time spent with friends. It takes much of the night, but by Sunday morning the area is spotless and restored to its intended purpose.
Brad (one of Brock’s hugging friends) is one of the organizers. The first year we were in Fairfield I told Brock about Brad’s clean-up efforts; therefore, Brock also concluded that Brad must have been the one who tore down the food venders tents and everything else, too. From then on if anything in town was torn down, it was Irma (Brad’s wife) and Brad who did it. But Brock also gave them credit for building something else in its place. Irma and Brad tore down Wendy’s… but they built a new bank. Irma and Brad tore down Food 4 Less… but they built Save-a-Lot. Irma and Brad tore down McDonald’s… but they built a nice new bigger and better McDonald’s.
Often times change does result in something better.
In fact, the Oxford Dictionary defines “change” this way: replace (something) with something else, especially something of the same kind that is newer or better; substitute one thing for (another).
I’ve often heard people speak fondly of “the good ol’ days” but I’m not sure I’d want to live in the days before indoor plumbing and electricity, before automobiles and airplanes, even before dishwashers and air conditioning. Yes, change often results in improvement.
- Change is hard.
- Change is hard, but it is also good.
- Change often results in improvement.
Let me end with one of my favorite Bible verses. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
See, I (God) am doing a new thing! (Change)
Let’s embrace those new things God is doing.
Jeanette Cloyd, who often gleans life lessons from her autistic son Brock, learned to embrace change at the tender age of two when her family moved to another state. That would be the first of many moves in her life. By the time she graduated from high school she’d lived in 10 states and attended 25 schools. She now lives in Fairfield, where she serves in ministry alongside her husband Brent, who is the Associational Mission Strategist of Greater Wabash Baptist Association.