Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Imagination & Healing

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." ~Einstein
I have been thinking a lot about imagination lately and the role it has played in my healing. Can't help but think how important imagination must be in this journey although we often dismiss thoughts not based in any type of reality as just fantasy. 

Imagination can be fantasy sometimes, and to be truthful, imagination can also be destructive. But what if we learned to submit our dreams to God? What if He cleansed them if they were tainted somehow? What if they became holy? What if they were from Him in the first place?

Anyway, here's just a little example of how imagination helped me one time. When I weighed 215 pounds for years, and years, and years, it didn't seem to keep me from remembering the times I ran through the corn field behind my house or beat all the other kids in the 100 yard dash throughout my time in elementary school so when I pictured myself in the future, it was that healthy, athletic person in my mind I always saw living life. Not the sick person I had become. 

And although I'm not the 125 pounds I used to be (I'm not that tall), I am (just for the sake of disclosure so this post resonates with people--I generally don't walk around advertising my poundage) 149 pounds. And even though I am 43, I can run again after twenty years of being almost completely sedentary. I lost the extra weight about seven years ago.

Today, not really even close to having a satisfying career, I imagine myself functioning in the vocation I believe God intends for me. This vision is always before me in my mind's eye, so I challenge you, if you are praying for the healing of a son or daughter, imagine (if it's not too painful--sometimes it is) to think of her as inviting her friends over, and to think of him as shaking the hands of every stranger he ever meets. Or imagine them in any life giving/receiving capacity. The point is, imagine the healing.

This is not a tool to use to replace prayer or meditation upon God's word. It is simply a way of seeing a reality that is more in line with God's will than what we presently see. Sickness is not of Him though sometimes it remains despite our most fervent prayers. I cannot deny this, and it is mysterious to me. Overall, however, I do think His heart is geared towards us living and functioning in health. 

Imagine that world with me, if you will. 

Blessings! 

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." ~Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hey Y'all (A Note for the Suffering)

I don't know if my hormones are running amok or if God is whispering to my spirit. Either way, I have this overwhelming sense that there are sooo many of you out there feeling like you cannot go on for one more second--for whatever reason--autism related or not. 

I have been in that place of despair and despondency more times than I care to count, and to be honest, I probably will be there again at some point in the future. But I'm not going to think about that right now. I'm just thinking about you, and I want to share something.

It sounds so cliche to say that God has a purpose for each and every one of you...except, no matter how much it is said, these words are still true. Suffering, to us, seems to negate that purpose. I know. Yet, if we can bear to be real about this, although sometimes we cannot bear it, and that's okay, suffering has this way of refining us that cannot and does not happen under any other circumstances. 

I'm not asking you to sit and piously try to think of everything you are grateful for right now. When people have suggested this to me when I was about at my breaking point, I went a bit nuts on them. I'm just asking for you to hold on a little longer. It doesn't have to be pretty. Shaking your fists at God for now will not get you struck down by lightning. But it will let off some steam that's been building up against Him for awhile. And when that's cleared, you can go back to the Lord and really share the hidden places in your heart. This is healing, and it draws you nearer to Him. 

You can trust Him with your pain. He can handle it, and He did handle it when it was all absorbed on the Cross.

In Jesus' Love...Kelly


Friday, December 26, 2014

Defensive People (aka Competitive Conversationalists)

This little book caught my eye the other day during my Christmas shopping at Barnes & Noble. Actually, the title drew me in like a car wreck. No one wants to look, but the curiosity ultimately proves stronger than any feelings of horror so we take a gander anyway. 

Well, this author comes up with a lot of terms for people I can't really disagree with. My favorite is the humblebragger. "I'm so humbled that my book sold over a million copies," kind of thing. No you aren't, and the rest of us know it. 

Anyway, I bring this up because I want to share a little hint with my autistic friends. Sometimes the people you speak with want to do nothing but argue. But it is hard to tell that's what they're doing and after the conversation is over, you feel kind of irritated or depressed but you really don't know why.

The trick is, these people do not sound like they are arguing. Their voices aren't raised. They speak slowly and methodically, but...they are arguing. Constantly. And while I do not want to punch these particular people in the throat (or anyone else for that matter), I want to you to know, I do find these types of chats to be highly annoying (and totally unnecessary). 

Here's how to identify when you are speaking with a competitive conversationalist (who always want to make the winning point, even if and when there is nothing to be won).

Here's a sample discussion:

You: It's a lovely day, outside isn't it?

Competitive Conversationalist (CC): Well, no. Little too hot for me. I love the cold. Last year at this time it was only 55 degrees. Loved it. Global warming, messing up the earth. 

You: Oh, yeah, hmmm. Could be. I don't really know. But at least the sun is shining. It's been raining for the last three days.

CC: Actually, it's been raining for the last two and half days. Started around 6 o'clock. I know because I just sat down to dinner then. 

You: That's true, I guess. Yeah, but anyway, this weather will give me a chance to cut the grass. 

CC: What kinda mower you got? Mine's a (whatever). Cuts through anything. You oughta think about getting one. It's the best. Nothing better. 

You: Okay. Well, thanks. Okay, my phone is ringing. I've got to take this call right now. I'll see you later!

CC: Not if I see you first! 

I realized recently I have a lot of these conversations. They are so draining, but what is important to know is that the roots of these types of dialogues are typically defensiveness and rejection. Be at peace with as many people as possible, but when you are caught up in one of these dead end conversations, try to pray silently and ask God to help you not respond with your own defensiveness (which is what I did for the longest time).

Love well today. Especially while conversing. Autism doesn't keep you from being kind to your neighbor.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When People Do Not Respond

Most of the time my posts are for people looking for encouragement regarding their healing journey. Sometimes, though, it's important to write to individuals on the spectrum trying to navigate life by looking to the normals out there to tell them if their behavior is socially acceptable or not. 

Sometimes, though, I do not think that is a very good idea because I'm not sure they really know what is acceptable, either. 

Over the last few months, whether it be a phone call, an email, or a hand written letter, I have noticed that I am not getting a response from anyone about anything--ever. Last week, the disappointment of not hearing from anyone really put my patience to the test, but I wondered if my feelings of frustration were really valid. Maybe this was just me not understanding how the regular people in the world communicate. Maybe silence is normal. 

Well, after a little research, I learned in this New York Times article that even in the business world, unanswered emails are not at all appreciated. While some people say no response is the "new no," most feel that that this attitude is just plain rude. And honestly, it is.

What I love about the Bible is there really are no "social rules." Jesus simplified life exponentially when He said the most basic but profound thing ever: "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." 

So, sometimes issues that come up really aren't about autism! They are just the consequences of living in a fallen world. If you are still waiting to hear from someone on an important issue and weeks or months go by without a response, inquire (briefly and politely) again. If you are no longer in need but the silence has been painful and confusing, send a brief but polite note about how the lack of response made you feel. Maybe this will make them think twice about doing the same thing to someone else. 

We are all in this life together. We all teach and we all learn. Everybody plays. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

In Sickness or In Health?

 How would you like to live? Which would you choose?

Our attitude toward sickness – whether to ask God to remove it, or whether to accept it as his will – is a key question. To be sure, if I believe that God has sent me a sickness to test my love, I am not going to pray to be rid of it. Rather, I will embrace my cross and refuse to avail myself of any alleviation. Yet, nowhere in the gospel do we see Christ encouraging the sick to patiently endure their illness. On the contrary, he everywhere treats sickness as a manifestation of the kingdom of Satan which he has come to 
destroy. ~Francis MacNutt, Healing

Just some food for thought today. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Remedy for Guilt & Shame

I'm thankful for technology that allows me to give a voice to emotions and thoughts that have been a part of me for most of my life. I'm discovering what other people surely know--that allowing sadness and anger to surface--and then allowing those feelings to be released in healthy ways--tremendously improves mood and outlook! 

I am feeling much better than just a few days ago. I am thankful for the prayers that went up because of my last post and also for the thoughts and comments that were shared with me. 

Many times, after an emotional storm, I reflect on the life of Jesus. The truth is, He suffered rejection of every kind. There was no loneliness He did not know. No insult He did not hear. He was not wanted. And by the time He went to the Cross, people ran away from Him, too. He experienced all of these things so by the time you and I also did we would not be alone like He was. Jesus is always with us and knows exactly how we feel. Thank you, Lord. 

So, with Jesus' suffering in mind, I would like to share a concise healing prayer with you that helps me to renew my mind on most days if it gets stuck in the past. It goes like this:

Lord Jesus, I bind my mind to your mind. 
I bind my will to your will. 
I bind my emotions with your emotions.

This is my remedy for any false guilt and shame that tries to hold me hostage to my memories. Many times after praying it, my mind is instantly cleared, and my spirit is uplifted. I hope if you pray this, the same will happen for you! 

Blessings.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guilt & Shame

It's important to be real. There are many people in this world I admire, but by the time I get around to knowing who they are, they've learned a ton of life lessons I do not even know about yet. This can make it appear that their lives are nothing but a huge piece of cake when they share their success stories from podiums and in books.

But we are all human, and we all go through hard times. Even when things are getting better (and things are getting better for me), life can still hurt. Jesse's Saperstein's book, mentioned in yesterday's post, starkly reminded me of this fact. He writes of the many people who found him to be strange. And how in looking back, he understood why they felt that way. 

As I read, I remembered the many similar situations in my past. My behavior hurt people, and there's a certain amount of embarrassment attached to every memory.

So, I want to make myself a little vulnerable to you right now. I want to share that I carry a large amount of guilt and shame in my heart most of the time. It was not my fault to be born autistic. And no one else is to blame for this, either, but there are so many people in my life who have been angry with me, disappointed in me, ashamed of me, and afraid of me that I would be a liar if I didn't say these realizations do not hurt. A lot. They are, indeed sometimes (like today), excruciatingly painful.

Yet the only reason why I hurt is because of my healing. I am now acutely aware of how my actions and impulsiveness affected other people around me. This was not the case only a few years ago. Even then, I had absolutely no idea. So now I live with the opportunity to think in terms of gray rather than in black and white. Meaning I have to learn how to be grateful for my healing, while at the same time grieve over what was lost because of a disorder. 

Not that I haven't grieved already, but grief is not linear and in reality it's just a hard concept to understand. Grief is not an emotion. It's a conglomeration of (sometimes conflicting) emotions that simply show up whenever they want to appear. Even after years of dormancy.

There are just days when I hate autism. Or myself for having had it. A few months back, I tried to apologize to someone for my past behavior, but that person ran away from me. And then when I went back to my church because, well, it is my church, that individual quit going because of their fear of me. 

As a logical person, and as a healed person, it is easy to see society's perspective regarding their overall discomfort around individuals with autism. I actually understand it. 

On the other hand, as a Christian and as a human being, I find the lack of grace, understanding, and patience toward autistic people to be somewhat inexcusable. I'm not willing to say it's totally inexcusable because I am afraid of casting stones here, but it's just such a big stretch for me--you know--when I go to church and I see contempt towards "the least of these" over and over again. How can that be okay? How does this not make a person angry? How can I say it doesn't make me feel like the biggest reject of all time? 

Once upon a time, and for a very long time, my behavior was weird. But marginally so. I never broke the law. I was never lewd. I suffered from a persistent immaturity, and when the pain of a lifetime of rejection caught up with me, the anguish came out in a number of less than attractive ways. I didn't know how to share it or release it. And when I tried, it scared people.

We are the church. We need to work past our fears of those who are different because this is how healing begins. This is how we demonstrate the love of Jesus to one another. Let it begin in us. Let it begin now. 

Shalom. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Getting A Life with Asperger's



This is a humorous new book I found while perusing the library the other day. Most of the time, stories by authors on the autism spectrum do not interest me all that much, but this one piqued my curiosity for some reason. 

I've only read a few chapters so far but admittedly it's pretty good. Jesse does not describe his journey as a healing one, but clearly--or at least in my opinion--it is. 

Reading his story is somewhat bittersweet. His memories of being bullied evoke memories of my own pain-filled days, and those memories are hard to shut down once they begin to flow. Yet, Jesse's successes are similar to mine, too, and remembering them brings me joy.

I do disagree with this thoughts on "romance." For what I hope are for obvious reasons, I do not advocate sex outside of marriage as he does (because this is part of the "normal" life men his age strive for), but other than that, this story is surprisingly encouraging.  I think it can bring some peace of mind to parents with children on the spectrum. 

Of course, I was reminded the other day by an insightful blog post on Practical Theology for Women that all of these books I have shared with you are really secondary aids on the healing journey. The Bible is always primary because it is God's heart. Out of his heart flows His thoughts for us, and knowing His thoughts is what allows us to be in relationship with Him. None of the world's wisdom can compete with that relationship and the love we receive from it. 

Blessings to you all today.