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Beyond the Maze: My Path to Understanding and Growth

Author: Dan Holmes with chatGPT

Today’s blog is a summary from a book chapter from Dan and Stephanie’s upcoming book Uniquely Us: Gracefully Navigating the Maze of Neurodiverse Marriage: Faith- autism- Marriage

Introduction: A Different Kind of Journey

Unlike Stephanie, my journey did not stem from a place of desperation or a feeling of being trapped. My experience was different, characterized more by a sense of contentment and a lack of urgency for change. However, this journey of mine, which I like to think of as "Taste and see," was about opening myself up to experiences and recognizing the value in what was different, and perhaps, better.

Learning Through Curiosity

I have always been a learner at heart, driven by curiosity. I enjoyed acquiring knowledge, understanding how things worked, and finding connections across various domains. Stephanie became another area of interest, another domain to explore. But as I delved deeper, I realized my curiosity had been more about facts and data rather than about her as a person. I missed being genuinely interested in her thoughts, dreams, disappointments, and joys.

A Shift in Perspective

My relationship with Stephanie was always important to me; I cared deeply about her and our family. However, what became clear was that my way of showing this care was not effective. I learned that caring isn't just about being present but about being actively engaged, responsive, and empathetic. This realization was the essence of my "Taste and See" philosophy - experiencing our relationship in a new, richer way and acknowledging the improvement it brought to our lives.

Responding to Life's Challenges

As we navigated life together, especially during the stressful events like the trees falling on our house, I learned the importance of sharing burdens. In the past, I might have been more dismissive or overly optimistic, failing to see and validate Stephanie's feelings. This time, I strived to be more present, to share the load, and to truly 'see' her. This was not about fixing the situation but about understanding and supporting each other.

Embracing Genuine Interest

I started to shift my focus from gathering information to genuinely understanding Stephanie. I began to validate her needs and perspectives, even when they differed from mine. This was a significant change from my previous approach, where my preferences often took precedence over her feelings.

Balancing Preferences and Values

Letting go of certain preferences did not change who I was at my core. It helped me to refine aspects of myself that were underdeveloped, making me a more well-rounded individual. My quirks and eccentricities remained, but I learned to differentiate between what I do and prefer, and who I am fundamentally.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

The devotionals and group activities we engaged in became tools for growth. Previously, I found such activities uninteresting, but now they held real value. They provided a framework for introspection and self-improvement, allowing me to see myself in a new light.

Applying RARE Leadership Principles

I found Dr. Wilder's RARE leadership principles particularly insightful. They encouraged me to remain relational, act like myself, return to joy, and endure hardship well. These principles guided me in my interactions with Stephanie and others, helping me to stay true to my values while being responsive to the needs of those around me. If you are interested in self-study or study with a coach on RARE leadership, you can find the material under Groups: Iron Sharpening Iron.

Growing Through Self-Reflection

One of the biggest challenges I faced was learning to endure hardship well. I used to suppress my emotions, thinking it was the 'right' thing to do. But I've learned that acknowledging and expressing emotions is vital for personal growth and for maintaining healthy relationships. Jesus himself lived his emotions in the moment, and this became a model for me to emulate.

The Value of Growth

I've come to realize that growth is a choice. It's like going to the gym – you only benefit if you actively engage in the process. My "Taste and See" journey taught me the value of trying new things, reflecting on them, and being honest with myself. It's about letting go of what's comfortable and embracing what can lead to a better, more fulfilling life.

Conclusion: A Journey of Continuous Learning

Looking back, my journey through the maze wasn't about escaping but about growing, understanding, and improving. It was about learning to see not just the world around me, but also the people in it, especially Stephanie, in a new light. I learned that growth is not about changing who you are, but about enhancing your best qualities and being open to the experiences and people around you. This journey has taught me the importance of curiosity, empathy, and genuine interest in others, and I hope my story inspires others to embark on their own paths of personal growth and discovery.

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1 Comment
Mar 15

Great to hear some of your story. God bless,


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