Equally treasured: story of the autistic loving God
I'm going to start a bit differently today. While clearing some papers up in nt room yesterday, I fell across some notes I had made for the youth group when I did an experiential session with them - bringing them into an equal, but different reality I habit in. I had also looked up and sourced some bible verses to give the presentation a Christian grounding. This one jumped out at me:
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer make it female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Think it's from Galations - currently on my phone and on a roll so will check later. This jumped out at me for a few reasons. Firstly I don't feel I fit in anywhere at the moment. I've always done my own thing and I've never been one to be part of a tribe or heard. For me, personal reflection is vital. There is only one person I am accountable to (that being God) so I've gone from being an awkward inept youngster to someone who may upset people along the way in the name of loyalty and love and who us stubborn. I do apologize if I have ever offended you. I seem to be good at putting my foot in it, with autistic and non-autistic people alike through my perceived helpfulness. I often feel I can't do much right and only through parroting do I fit in. How does this link to the verse from Galations? It shows how unique we were all built. Even in communities such a rich blend is present and not one value or representation is more valid than another. This can be tied greatly to autism where so much information is regarding one stereotype. For a stereotype to exist, there must be some truth however so many colors are lost in this instance. Through looking only at one representation, we only see monotone. You see, autism is part of God's world; valued, loved and treasured. Whether society passes this on however is a different story. I could add in many other quotes that have been flying about but for me, this verse sums this up. It's not only stereotypes we need to watch out for: Sometimes one person's experience of the "other" can tar all who sit in the same boat. Like religious groups or ethnicities. Autism is also one. We are all so different and have differing experiences, interests, preferences and tolerances. My tolerance of noise and light is poor ( and stupidity, I'm actually intolerant to that). Oranges - can't tolerate their smell. Makes me feel so I'll, the smell us do strong. Anyone who went to school with me can vouch for this. Fire alarms is another I find hard, especially with anxiety on top. However a friend if mine can't tolerate mushrooms. I love mushrooms! And thank goodness I do or I would get no vitamin C. But you see, we are all so unique like with individual mixing boards. It is mind blowing when thinking of the creation of all these subtle things that we don't always consider when growing in the womb. This is not to normalize anything, rather celebrate. Celebrate our uniqueness and to see this in Galations reminds me why I am doing what I am. There is so much bad air space on autism, from places that are lonely, sad, despairing and confused. I refuse to let society tell me part of the uniqueness of me is not beautiful. I was developmentally delayed (hence the early diagnosis) and when you check my family tree out, I am not alone. Why should this be less?
God loves every person. He is sat right next to us when we suffer and are in pain. For me, this includes the panic attacks I have, the social anxiety that cripples me, the exhaustion from sensory overload and the times I thought I was trying to help but end up hurting myself out of frustration and crying in a heap on the floor. He is suffering the pain I felt when depressed and chronically stressed when in France. He cried when I was constructively dismissed from my job in Germany due to a personality difference and when everything just fell to pieces in my last job. God knows autism. In him, even though the world does not get it necessarily, he does. This is why I see such urgency to get the church talking about autism. It's not about me, it's about Him.
Not everyone does share my faith and I respect that. Yet for me it is everything. It's someone I turn to when everyone and everything is going well and going wrong. It's not about control or male leadership. God goes beyond gender. Our human language is much too mediocre to even have the right words. Jesus is so big that it is beyond what we know. Without Jesus I would be lost.
Back to autism, there are days I feel alone. I have this theory that Jesus had autistic traits or behaviours: The directness of his speech, the fact he wandered off a lot to get away, people misunderstanding him, fierce loyalty to his father, God... there is a certain je ne said quoi. My autism radar feels something. Not to try to diagnose, rather to push that God is not typical NT. We are made in God's image. God must know autism for it to be in his image and part of humanity. Autism is not wrong it broken. I believe we lack the words currently in society to give it what it deserves. I'm not saying it's not a disability far from it. What I'm saying is we are yet to find the right way of defining. That being said, many great voices are speaking up and we must listen with urgency to those who experience this. I could add #actuallyautistic too since that might be appropriate.
For a week where I have felt I can do no worse and want to walk away from autism in the church and be begging just to live a normal life, after this iI feel calmer. Re-reminding myself of this is good and I hope you can see where I am coming from.
Please know I never mean to offend anyone. Forgive me please if I do.