Multi-platinum recording artist Jaci Velasquez has opened up about how she overcame the difficulties of early fame, a failed marriage and the challenges that come with having a child with autism.
"If we all act like we have it all put together and have it all together like our Instagram posts, make it look like we have, who can relate to that? Because nobody has it all together," she told The Christian Post.
Velasquez details her journey in her new book, When God Rescripts Your Life: Seeing Value, Beauty and Purpose When Life Is Interrupted.
"It's actually a collection of stories. Some failures, some joy, some fears, some things that I thought would be helpful for others to make them feel like they are not alone, if you will, to help them understand that sometimes I am guilty and we are guilty of confusing our dreams with God's dreams and confusing our vision with God's calling. And sometimes our poor choices take us off track,” she explained.
“But God and His goodness and His redeeming way can take those missteps, those poor choices, those mistakes, and He can receive them and make them beautiful, and make it to where you say, 'Oh, wow, You do make beauty from ashes.'"
The singer, actress and radio host noted that the Bible makes over 7,000 promises and although she hasn’t always kept her promises to God, He has always kept His promises to her.
Velasquez came to fame as a teenager and quickly became the first and fastest-selling solo artist in Christian music history to reach gold status with her debut album. Her career would eventually stall and her first marriage ended after little more than a year. Despite so much heartbreak and disappointment, God has since repurposed those experiences for a greater plan and Velasquez has since remarried and now has two sons.
"Every single one of us has made a poor choice. When my son was two and he put his hands on a little fireplace after I repeatedly told him, ‘No, don't do that.’ It burnt him and he cried. He made a mistake, I told him not to but he did,” she said.
“So from the time that we have the ability to do things, we make mistakes and we walk in disobedience. Because walking in obedience is so hard, it is so much easier to do what we want to do. But when we do what we want to do, we make poor choices, and we fail at something.”
Every choice has consequences, be it good or bad, Velasquez maintained. She said people should ask God what He’s calling them to. She warned that sometimes what He calls people to walk through is difficult but obedience to God is always best.
Velasquez discovered that her eldest son, Zealand, was diagnosed with autism in the spring of 2013 when he started school in Nashville. After the ASD diagnosis, the loving mom became a spokesperson for autism advocacy and has used her talents to fundraise and spread awareness. Raising a son with autism, however, has its challenges and in her new book, Velasquez is open about her journey.
"We serve a God who can redeem the poor choices from our lives and make them into beautiful things and make them into what He has designed. When my son oldest Zealand, when he got diagnosed as being autistic, I remember, I was so angry with God. I was so angry, I was like, 'Really? My husband and I have been making music and ministering about you, to you, for you. Since I was nine years old, I've been doing this,'" she told CP.
The Houston native recalled praying over her stomach when she was pregnant and always felt the assurance that her son would have a ministry. So she found it hard to reconcile the fact that he had autism.
“‘You're going to tell me my son is not going to catch up? You're going to tell me that my son is broken, and that he may never communicate appropriately but he is going to script films instead of actually talking from his own mind? You're going to tell me that was the plan?’” Velasquez inquired of God at the time. “That's not what I had planned. I had a dream. And I know that you have a ministry for him.”
"I went six months with just being very angry with God, and really going through a mourning period. I mourned the dream and the vision and the thoughts I had of my kid when he was in my belly, and then as a baby and toddler and what he was going to be like. I had to go through a mourning period. I talked to God, I yelled at God like David did in Psalms, just going, 'I'm angry with you.' What's amazing is that through that whole period, He never once said anything. He never chastised me. It was almost like He was just letting me get it out.”
Velasquez revealed that she is a nonconfrontational person but God instructed her to fight the good fight of faith for her son and his future.
"When I stopped being angry, it was like God said, 'OK, time to stand up, dust yourself off, you got it all out. Now, I need you to fight. You have to fight for your child. You have to fight for what he can't fight for on his own,’” she continued.
"God saw something in me I didn't see in myself and that was strength and on a daily basis, til this day, I will be asking God to continue to remind me that I am strong because sometimes I don't feel adequate but God is so good at not giving you more than you can handle. He's not going to give you a job that you cannot do because if it is His will, He will equip for that."
Velasquez confessed that writing When God Rescripts Your Life was very challenging for her as she had to relive everything.
"Writing this book was walking in obedience because I remember when all the things were happening, a failed marriage, the diagnosis of my son, running away to England, when all that was happening, I felt like an island. I felt like it was just Jaci and the rest of the world, like nobody knew, nobody could understand, It wasn't happening to anybody else, just me,” she recalled.
A 2018 CDC report determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Autism is four times more likely to be found in boys than girls.
The singer wants other parents of autistic children to know that they are not alone. She is now preparing for the next phase of her son Zealand’s life as he enters his preteens.
"I'm still on the journey. He just started sixth grade, we're about to go through puberty. So the story is still being written,” she noted. “I think it was imperative to walk alongside people that are parents of special needs kids.”
Velasquez hopes to soon write another book with more in-depth information about her experience with her son titled Adolescents and Autism.
When asked if she ever prayed for healing for her son, she held fast to the truth that God does not make mistakes.
"I want the best for my son and I want him to experience all the joys of life, of getting married and having kids, I want him to have a full life! I don't want him to change, but yet, I don't know what that is going to look like, but God does,” she said. “God made Him. He is created in God's image. So if he's created in God's image and God doesn't make anything that's broken, what is He going to do with Zealand because he's going to do something. I don't know what that looks like because his story is still being written. That's the coolest part, it's the journey, it's the adventure.”