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I grew up in a religious house. We went to church every Sunday. My mom taught Sunday school, and we participated as a family in most church events. We believed in the power of prayer, hope, faith, love, and forgiveness. As a little girl, I watched my dad kneel at the side of the bed every night and say his prayers.

In the last six years, my faith has not been what it should have been. It has plummeted into the depths of nothingness, buried deep below the darkness. I have felt angry and abandoned by God. In response, I have ignored Him and grown bitter.

I didn’t understand why He wasn’t answering my prayers and why He was allowing my life to be so challenging.

Six years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful little boy. Within a year of his birth, I realized he wasn’t like most children. My son has severe autism and is non-verbal. He also has comorbid conditions like seizures and gastrointestinal challenges. I watch him struggle with so many things others take for granted.

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There are no words to express the pain and vulnerability that comes with watching your child struggle day after day. There is no hard quite like a mother trying to make sense of the challenges and heavy load her child has to carry.

Before my son was diagnosed, we were at our lowest low. Every night he would struggle with bedtime for over six hours because he could not settle himself down to sleep. He would fight me and then turn on himself with bouts of self-harm. It was heartbreaking. Eventually, we would both be in tears and cry ourselves to sleep.

Every. Single. Night.

This was a process with no end that would repeat itself. A child without the ability to self-soothe and no coping skills, and a mother who didn’t know how to help. Each night I would dread bedtime and pray with all my heart for a better way.

Many months later my son was diagnosed with autism, and I realized we had to fight for everythinginclusion, supports, programs, understanding, acceptance, medical care. There was nothing about this life that came easy.

The silent pleadings of my heart were going nowhere. Eventually, I stopped praying. I stopped believing. I felt like He wasn’t hearing me, and if He was, He was doing nothing to help. 

I gave up on God. But He never gave up on me.

I know now that He heard and answered all my prayers, just not in the way I expected them to be answered. Just in the same way an ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan, or a caterpillar becomes a dynamic butterfly, my faith was strengthened and restored over time.  

I thought I was buried in complete darkness, but somehow light began to shoot through the cracks. This light was carefully intertwined with hope and unconditional love.

My faith was renegotiated inch by inch.

My heart was beating with a renewed purpose. All the blessings in disguise began to reveal themselves.

I prayed my son would talkhe began communicating by using an iPad with special software.

I prayed he would build stronger bonds with his immediate familyhe started giving them hugs and kisses.

I prayed he would know I was his momhe said the word “Mom” to me.

I prayed for calmnesshe became fascinated and mesmerized by music.

I saw my son wave, blow kisses, climb stairs, and eat real food. I watched him tell jokes on his iPad and get excited about seeing Santa. I watched him ignore Christmas one year to open a present all by himself the next.

RELATED: My Child Has Autism and He is Awesome

My son has made so much progress and has begun acquiring skills.

He was doing things I hadn’t even dreamed of. He was doing things others thought were impossible.

Day by day and year by year, my faith produced miracles my heart and soul had yearned and prayed for.

I never asked for it because I didn’t know about the possibility, but I have been able to see the world through my son’s eyes. I have seen so much beauty and simplicity, wonder and awe, and learned to show gratitude for all of life’s imperfections and rough edges.

I have transformed from someone with no blessings to someone with an overabundance of blessings.

My heart no longer sees only darkness; instead, it sees the light produced by love, hope, gratitude, and faith.

I have also learned and lived the greatest truth . . . no matter where life takes you and what darkness you walk through, you will never do it alone.

He will never leave you.

He will never forsake you. 

He will make a way even when it seems that all things are impossible.

Chrystal Venator

I am a proud wife, ASD Mom, Step-Mom and Pug Mom. In January 2017, at 21 months, my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He is 5 years old and non-verbal. Since his diagnosis, I have become a full-time stay-at-home mom. I am 1000% focused on raising autism awareness and helping my son live a full and fun life. You can follow our journey at Stalen’s Way www.facebook.com/StalensWay

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