Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feelings & Autism

For as long as I can remember, my feelings have been strong. Not being one to enjoy a loss of balance, emotionally speaking, my feelings about my feelings have also been strong. The end result has always been an internal tug-of-war which generally stops me in my tracks until the emotional storms pass. Then life goes on. 

Yesterday I wrote a post while one of those storms raged. I was filled with disappointment, some despair, much impatience, anger, and more. I spoke of the pretentiousness I feel like encounter on a regular basis and wonder why no one else seems to see what is plainly a growing issue--with everyone--not just Christians, but I did target my particular demographic yesterday.

And I still do, but I want to go on record that I've been guilty (for most of my life) of being pretentious myself. Everything from my comments on Facebook (which I've stopped using), who I know, what I wear, to what I say and even what I do not say for a long time, have been tainted with a kind of self-righteousness that does not sit well with me anymore. In short, my insecurities, fears, and dreams have turned me into a bragger so I could gain the acceptance and approval of other people.

I do not think that the people I encountered this weekend meant to cause so much pain. I do not think they meant to cause any pain to be honest. They communicated pretty much the way anyone else does these days, and they are forgiven. Even so that doesn't mean that bragging, boasting, and excluding others is acceptable. It really isn't, except the only way to put an end to something is to realize it's been started in the first place. I don't think anyone really knows they've even gotten to this point.

This way of relating to others is part cultural, but also much of it stems from our fears. I think all of us are afraid of rejection and exclusion to the point we exalt ourselves as a way to fortify our emotions against the judgments of others--but if we are not fooling them, we at least may be drawn to the comfort of fooling ourselves.

We were made for relationship, however, and even since yesterday when I decided to stop spending social time with others, my throat has been hurting, my heart has been pounding, and my lymph nodes have become sore. My body is telling me that isolation hurts, so I am not sure how to handle all of this. For now, though, I still prefer to be by myself. 

As hard as this is, one of the things I'm enjoying in this process is that I'm learning not to judge my thoughts and feelings. It is taking a little bit longer for my emotions to level out but I think it's because I'm not forcing myself to "get over myself" in a hurry just to please other people who believe that a depressed Christian is somehow not living right. The longer I take to work through this, the more honest and peaceful the end result will be. I expect God to take this mess and make something beautiful out of in only the way that He can. He will make a way. I have to trust that.
 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

To Disclose or Not to Disclose

Sigh.

Today was just one of those days. And so was yesterday. And the day before. Holidays mean time off from work and time off from work means well-meaning people want to include you on their trip to the beach or some other such place.

As old I am, this has yet to bode well...for so many reasons. Strangers begin to wonder why I'm single. And childless. Or why I'm not a globetrotting white collar worker because I am single and childless. When my answers exclude a diagnosis of autism but still do not satisfy, the quiet judging begins. Then dinnertime comes, and I find myself seated between people who suddenly decide it is fitting to speak over and around me. Never to me, and it becomes too much trouble for them to even make eye contact. 

How fun.

And then there was this morning, when I attended a prayer meeting for the third time time. Now, the other two ladies who come generally do not show up on time. And after their arrival, they usually talk quite a bit, so not much praying actually gets done. 

But I asked them for prayer this morning because my heart was still hurting from the weekend. Instead of listening and praying though, they impatiently looked at each other and spouted off scriptures and platitudes that were neither fitting nor helpful. 

Then later, one of the ladies told me their meetings were part of an agenda they had and my asking for prayer should have been reserved for a later time. They wanted to pray about other things.

Really? 

In response to this latter case I decided to disclose my diagnosis, but only to let these ladies know that I would not be returning to pray. Autism is not my identity, and I do not need people to see me through that lens anymore. I simply shared to give them a bit of an explanation of any perceived communication differences.

Actually, I really do not have that much trouble understanding other people, but in my early years, my mother chose to express anger with the silent treatment, which was often. This set the stage for my prayer life. I needed someone to talk to and God was the Person who was always willing to hear me. As a result, relationship with Him was firmly built. To this day, I pray constantly, and at this point in time, I cannot live without doing so. 

Instead, regarding relationship challenges, I find that the communication gap between myself and others comes not from me not knowing what to say, nor from a misunderstanding about what is being said. Rather, I think the old me is sort of fading away and what was once important to me really isn't anymore. But I think these same things are still important to just about everyone I know.

I suppose I could or should stay silent, but like all human beings, I desire to have closeness with others. But after today...and this weekend, I think it's just time to throw in the towel. When every single social activity ends in tears, it's time to quit trying. Not quit life--except for being alone, life is pretty good right now. No...I mean it's time to quit people. So many are so unkind and thoughtless. And pretentious.

I know they know not what they do, but sometimes too much is just too much. Love is not on the mind of most Christians and really, that's just sad no matter how you roll the dice. 

An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure. ~Drum Eatenton, the Poet Laureate of Dogwood Lane.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Francis.

This post is a little late in coming as Francis MacNutt, founder of Christian Healing Ministries, celebrated his 90th birthday on April 22nd. Still, I wanted to take a moment and give thanks to God for the life of this man. Lately, I have thought much about him and am coming to realize that the restoration and now the wide scope of the modern day healing ministry have pretty much everything to do with Francis. 

Since a great deal of his biographical information can easily be found on line, I am going to skip over those particulars. What I want to mention here is the consistency in Francis' choices to make sacrifices to God that often resulted in much personal pain for him and later his entire family. Because of those sacrifices, however, thousands upon thousands of people all around the world, over the last 40 years, have been freed from their chains. And now they, too, can serve God in the capacity in which they were first called.

I am one of those people and to say I am grateful is a supreme understatement. Yet to not say it as well as a thank you to Francis for his life's work and devotion to Jesus Christ, at this point in time, would be an unacceptable oversight on my part.

The footsteps of a righteous man are ordered. Thank you, Francis, for your "yes" to God and walking on the path He chose just for you. God bless you both now and forevermore!