Advent devotion: His handsome face

News | December 16, 2017

I remember the exact moment the University of Iowa psychologist gently told us that our two-year-old son was being diagnosed as having autism. I remember the weight of those words and the feeling of devastation as all the hopes, dreams, and goals I had for him were taken away from me. What little I knew of autism – which was not much – confirmed for me that he would never be happy, never find love, never talk, and never be able to live on his own. I felt the tears running down my face as I tried not to break down. I had found my way into the darkness of an autism diagnosis.

There is a grieving process. It’s not easy. I fumbled my way through educating myself and finding all the services he needed. I was introduced to other autism parents, some who decided to tell me the worst-case scenarios and terrify me. Others remembered what it was like at the beginning and offered their quiet, knowing support and let me vent, cry, ramble, or even yell. Everything feels unfair at first.

Then, I learned. I looked at my child. His handsome face. His great smile and kind eyes. His personality that shines brilliantly, even without words (at least so far). I learned how to interact with him better and see how incredibly smart he is. I got brave enough to share my story outside of the autism parents and I felt – mostly – a loving and supportive village to wrap up my family in a bear hug of love and support.

I believe my son will change the world. Seriously. I don’t know exactly how yet. Maybe it will be through a mathematical equation or great technological advance. Or maybe it will be through his unique ability to melt the hearts of those around him. Regardless of how, I know he will change the world, because I know the brilliant light that is Leo. And I know I was wrong on so many things about autism. I know he is, can be, and will be happy in his future. And if it ends up he doesn’t change the whole world, I can already attest to the fact that he has utterly, beautifully, and irrevocably changed and brightened mine.

Kristina Voyna works at Deere & Company. She and her wife, Teri, live in Bettendorf with their son, Leo. 

Editor’s note: Kris was so inspired by this year’s theme, she submitted three devotions. Read her third offering on Sunday.

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5 Comments on “Advent devotion: His handsome face”

  • Kathie Heaps

    December 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    As part of Leo’s village…i agree he has the ability to change the world. He certainly has changed mine in a very blessed way. I his loving light, Gramma Kathie

  • Pam Wilks

    December 16, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    God gave the three of you a priceless gift, each other. Enjoy and nurture your gift. You will be amazed where your gift will take you.

  • Melissa Wogomon

    December 16, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Kris- you are incredible and because of that Leo is and will continue to be incredible. Kids are the product of their upbringing and he is very lucky to have you as his mom!! Love ya!

  • Jane D

    December 16, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Leo is a beautiful boy surrounded by love.
    As someone with Aspergers I can attest that autism has a wide spectrum and there are gifts along the way. Not all are savant-level gifts, but rather passions that just keep growing. I suspect that Leo will have several gifts…and he may just surprise you on the language front! Sometimes, children who don’t speak suddenly start at age 4 or 5 and when they do they have a huge vocabulary.
    You guys are wonderful parents and I’m enjoying watching you all grow together.

  • Tese Atkins

    December 16, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Leo is a bright light for those of us who have the privilege of knowing him. God made this special child and I love watching him grow and learn. May God continue to bless the Voyna Family.

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