Written By: Taylor Whitlow
It so happens that expectations rarely turn out as they were previously conceived. When my parents thought they were having one child, they were blessed with two: one “normal” and one disabled with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. My brother Kyle’s lack of ability to communicate, contain emotions, and live “normally” proved to be a huge obstacle growing up, and even is today. Regardless, experiencing God’s work through Kyle has been invaluable to me and I would not change my situation for the world.
Individuals living with high-strung Autism are often times very routine-oriented. Every day consists of the same schedule and when that routine is broken, tempers fly. This often caused issues in public. Outbursts, screaming, tantrums – both my family and strangers in the grocery store experienced it all. Kyle definitely stood out in a crowd when issues began to arise. I mean, what 14 year old throwing a tantrum in the middle of Target wouldn’t draw attention? Upon further thought, this situation made me realize that Jesus also stood out in a crowd. Jesus performed miracles that made crowds stare. No ordinary person could heal the man with a withered hand in Mark 3, or feed over five thousand men and their families with barely enough food for one man in John 6. In this way, I experienced God’s work directly through my twin brother.
In every situation my brother finds himself in, he remains the same. At home, school, or at the mall, he is authentic in who he is. No matter who he is around, Kyle is not ashamed to be himself. He never hides his disability, nor tries to be someone he is not. When thought of in this way, Jesus parallels quite well to my brother. No matter who Jesus was around – his disciples, Pharisees, or even tax collectors – Jesus did not fake who he was. God loves unconditionally and never changes his attributes. (Malachi 3:6) He is who He is. He does not change, for He is the never changing God.
Throughout my childhood, I prayed for Kyle’s recovery so he could turn “back to normal” every night before I fell asleep. I longed for “normalness” and stability. But today, looking back on those nights of prayer, I thank God things stayed as they were. As time progressed and hardships became more frequent and pressing, I realized that this is God’s plan for my family and I learned to love. I learned to love Kyle’s quirks. I learned to love the abundance of irrelevant ramblings that spew from his mouth. I even learned to love his tantrums. Without these things, I would not have experienced God’s work so prominently in my life. I learned how God loves unconditionally, despite disabilities or setbacks. Through all the muck, God’s love shines through. We as Christians are to strive to achieve this level of love and commitment – to mirror God’s compassion and love for all.
Despite the multitude of challenges Kyle has given our family along the way, I refer to my brother as a blessing. I am so grateful he was put into my life and that God chose me of all people to be his twin sister. He has taught my family and I so much and has revealed God’s likeness to me in so many ways. For God’s plan and my brother alike, I am truly grateful.
About Taylor Whitlow:
Taylor is an 18 year old Senior in high school. She enjoys listening to music and playing violin. She plans to major in Graphic Design next year. She has a twin brother that has Autism.