Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Rocky Road of Restoration

Last night I read an article by an autistic gentleman who underwent experimental surgery in order to restore his emotions. His story absolutely fascinated me. To begin with, I had no idea any such surgery or treatment existed, even if it is only experimental. More importantly, however, there is now someone else in the world with whom I can relate regarding the strange difficulty of emotional healing taking place rather late in life. 

Like me, he found that having a new understanding of others' emotions and subtle intentions brought unexpected pain and a sense of being overwhelmed. It was one thing to be vaguely aware, if at all, of people who made fun of me. It is now another to be fully aware, and then to look back and be able to see how that same scenario occurred hundreds of times before in my life. 

Basically, healing on this level is bittersweet. Before it can be enjoyed completely, grieving is a necessity. I was so surprised to learn how angry and disappointed I felt. Then I realized I needed to undertake the overwhelming task of forgiving just about everyone I had ever encountered. When you are shut out of life, you are shut out everywhere. It's the hardest thing in the world to admit, but I wanted to be free of anger and bitterness, so I did--admit it. As a result, joy is surfacing in my life as well as a deep gratitude to God for my healing. 

Somehow this man's story reminds me of another I read when I was just 12 years old. Titled Flowers for Algernon, it was written by Daniel Keyes in 1959. The main character, Charlie, undergoes surgery to "make [him] smart." His intelligence is restored and soars, but a lab mouse (Algernon) who underwent the same surgery, and who experienced the same cognitive surge, ends up deteriorating and then dying. 

I remember feeling very sobered by that story, yet not so much because of the death of the mouse and all that it implied. Rather as Charlie healed, it was his awareness of how others perceived him before his surgery that pained me. Like I said, there's just something very difficult in that moment when the ways you've been perceived by others for your entire life becomes more than crystal clear.  

By the mentioning of this story, it might sound like I'm coming down on healing today. I'm not. I don't expect anyone to deteriorate and die as a result of their prayers and interventions!!! Never give up your faith! 

Instead I think this is more of a realization that restoration is not really that easy. We rightly perceive that our lives will change when healing occurs. We wrongly overlook the fact that there is a process involved in the healing because it includes a period of transition. Additionally, there is confusion in a sudden gear shift while traveling 100 mph down the highway of life, especially when this happens at the age of 40 or 50. Unexpected losses happen and must be grieved. Relationships change.

Even so, is healing worth it? And specifically was this healing worth it? Yes. Emotions are beautiful and created by God. He has them, too, you know. And all that He made for us, I want to have. I want to live in the fullness of my life no matter how overwhelmed it makes me at times. All that God made He called good. That includes tears, anger, pain, and so forth. It takes some getting used to, but for me to want to go back from where I started on this journey? No way. Not a chance.

I am grateful to God for all that He has done, and although I think brain surgery shows great promise for emotional restoration in people with all kinds of cognitive issues, I am especially grateful that my healing was done without surgery. Thank you, Lord! 

Blessings...and keep praying for your own healing. Take courage and do not be afraid! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Freedom From Silence

When parents have shared their stories of their autistic children with me, I haven't been able to help but notice over the years that most of these kids bear the names of Old Testament prophets. Clearly then, these parents believed their children had a destiny in Christ to fulfill and gave them the names that identified that destiny as (being) prophetic. And specifically, what are prophets called to do? They proclaim, by use of their voice, the Word of God. 

I'm truly not a fan of stating the obvious, but something in me is rising up and getting angry over the fundamental fact that autism's biggest crime against a soul is its power to silence a human being by robbing a child of his or her ability to speak. 

I do not yet know how this happens neurologically speaking, so I do not know specifically how to pray for this healing (although once I prayed for the healing of someone's deep mind which drastically helped with that person's communication). Spiritually, I can see the enemy's motivation quite clearly (and probably all of you reading can do the same), though. People respond to the Word of God by hearing it, and people are set free by the authority that comes through a spoken prayer. Take away a person's voice, and you take away their spiritual authority.

This point was simply but profoundly illustrated to me a couple of months ago by an interaction I had with a dog. 

There is a little Australian Shepherd in my neighborhood who, for four months, did nothing but charge and incessantly bark and snarl at me as I walked by her yard, which was, and still is, several times a week. 

One day she startled me so much that I just turned to her and said, "Doggie, I don't know what's wrong with you, but I need to tell you that I'm tired of this routine so here's the thing. After today you are not going to charge at me anymore. You are not going to bark at me anymore. We are friends. I love dogs. I love you. And from here on out you are going to love me, too. It's that simple." 

Well, I didn't think anything about it afterwards because we have all asked dogs to be quiet thousands of times, and it virtually has no effect on them. But two days later, as I passed by this house on my walk, this dog, for the first time ever, rather than charging, came trotting slowly toward me. Then, she sat on the edge of her property and raised her front paw to me. And most importantly, she never made a sound. And from that time up until now, she still behaves this way. She no longer barks or charges at me. 

I realized later that I gave a word of command to this dog, and she responded to that authority--but I should say, as I've said before, this is not my authority--it is authority that comes from the Holy Spirit. My point is, though, I spoke this word. And something which was out of control responded to that word and submitted to it. 

I could only conclude from that experience that if a person is going to pick their battles with autism about what healing you want to see in your kids, I think it's time to wage an epic war on their forced silence. The word "voice" is mentioned 216 times in the Bible. God's voice and ours are the primary way we build relationship with Him and He with us. It is also the method God generally uses to advance His kingdom and how we defeat the enemy in our lives through prayer.  

It is time for your children, named after the prophets, to be able to speak. I curse this silence in which they live. And I pray with all of my heart, soul, and mind, for the prison doors to be opened for these beloved children of God to be able to proclaim the majesty and wonder of Your works, Lord, to all future generations! Jesus, I loose their voices. I loose their praise and thanksgiving! I loose everything they have ever wanted or needed to say to everyone around them! 

Heal them all God. Heal them all. Thank you, Jesus.