Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 4 – Selfless Service

This is a big one for me. It also one that I struggle with personally as a human. See, it’s not naturally in the human makeup to live a life in selfless service to others or a higher purpose. We tend to be creatures who take care of our own needs first. We tend more to “look out for #1″. Now, I’m not talking about the basics of life like Maslow’s needs of shelter, food, sex, etc that we need as
human beings. I am talking about living a life that focuses on the needs of others MORE than our personal needs.

This is tough. I struggle with it all the time.

That last piece of chocolate cake in the fridge – do I eat it…or, do I save it for my sweetheart? There appears to be an elderly couple in the car right behind me as I am pulling into the parking lot of the grocery store and that front spot is wide open! Do I take it…or, do I pass it by so the elderly couple can have an easier time parking and walking into the store?

See what I mean?

Now, try to build your character around a lifetime of selfless service – putting others needs before your own – dying to “self” if you’ll allow me to speak biblically for a moment. Now, I’m not trying to preach my Christian faith upon you, but one cannot deny that the Bible is full of tried and true principles of character and integrity. It also contains some of the greatest examples of humans who lived by these examples (as well as many who didn’t and the ramifications of these decisions of their free will – always a bad ending and a lesson to learn from, lol). One verse that is on my mind as I struggle with the predicament of selfish behavior is this on in Luke 9, verse 23: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

This simply reminds me that I need to focus on the higher order of life and eternity in order to act and serve appropriately here on earth.

For those in the Army, selfless service is that value where one is willing to even go as far as put their own life on the line for their comrades and for their country. These men and women are truly living the calling of “denying themselves” and focusing on the greater service to nation.

We have the same charge when we look at the exceptional needs of our autistic children and the spouse who supports the love and care through these special needs at home. Just the fact alone that you have an autistic child at home REQUIRES, yes, REQUIRES that you live a life of selfless service to the needs of your wife and your children. Leaders lead by example. As leaders of our households men, it is incumbent on us to lead by example and put the needs of our wives and children first. And we need to do this above our careers in the military, above any sports, hobbies or interests and yes, even above Sunday NFL Football! I know! I told you this is tough stuff. I struggle with this myself.

I find it easiest to get through those seasons of selfish desires by consciously (and prayerfully) reminding myself of the great charge that I have been given by being blessed with a supportive spouse in the autism battle with me and three deserving boys who deserve my personal best. Putting selfish desires first only strips my family of the opportunity I can provide them by providing proper leadership and service by caring for their needs. The whole reason I am in the Army now is primarily so I could focus on the special needs of my boys. Paying out of pocket for the required ABA treatment my boys needed was starting to break the bank, even on a good six
figure income! At the time I even had the promise of growing one of the companies I owned into a very lucrative financial position in the years ahead. But, that selfish interest in the moment was not in the best interest of my boys who needed help RIGHT NOW. The decision was easy when I followed the order of priorities in my life and put selfless service first for the benefit of my family.

God

Spouse

Children

Career

Yes, career is after family in my order of priorities. Sorry, I can always make money someplace else. And if my selfless service in the Army ever interferes with the selfless service I need to provide for my wife and children, then the Army will be removed from the picture. So, before I get to far in the woods about prioritizing or ordering your life, I’ll stop right here. We’ll save that
discussion for another day.

In Advocacy,

Mike

Living With High Hopes and Positive Progress

So what would be the alternative? Keeping your hopes dismally down, and never making any progress? C’mon! For much of my growing years I submitted to the philosophy that you “shouldn’t go get your hopes up, because you might set yourself up for disappointment.” That is probably one of the most depressing and cynical beliefs that one can subscribe to in life. I believe you should get your hopes up and believe that progress is not only possible, but that it will be positive!

I find that having a good spiritual foundation and a faithful outlook on life helps. Knowing that there is plan and purpose behind the challenging and difficult things that happen in life only increases my hopes for positive progress! Everyday I hope that researchers will find more clues to the causation of autism, that more effective treatments will be refined and perfected in assisting those with autism, that society will be more open-minded, patient and understanding with this growing sect of our population. Should one not hope for these things or that positive progress will be made in that I could be sorely disappointed if none of the above happens? I think not! Just as it is the same with the education and development of my boys. I pray and am hopeful that their development is ongoing and productive in nature to help them have the best chance they can in this judgmental, short and cruel world that we all live in!

I am especially hopeful for our #3. My wife has been posting videos and pictures of our youngest little man (he is going on 20 months now). It is so refreshing and hope inducing when I see his positive progress in language. He is communicating like a typical developing 19 month old. Does he have some delays. Sure. But, I pray for and am hopeful for his continued positive progress to develop into the boy and eventual man that God wants him to be. This is how I apply some of my faithful beliefs to both empower and give me comfort for the difficult trials our family faces. Being secure in the belief that we are all created with perfect plan and purpose in mind, I am secure in knowing that God knew how my boys were going to turn out long before I did! And he also knows how the story plays out for them! With that being said, a loving and benevolent God would never give someone a challenge or gift in life if it didn’t fall into His perfect plan and purpose for their life.

Please don’t think I’m preaching at you, but I can assure you that it is much easier to have a higher hope for your auttie in life when you know that all the gains are all up to Him, and that I am just going to provide the best I can in interventions, education and treatment as if all their gains in life depends on us!

Get your hopes up for a better life for your autties and have faith that it is all going to work out exactly as you picture. Because you only get in life what you picture.

God bless,

Mike