Au-Some Afterthoughts 2020
Today is the holiday the US still has not really grasped onto. And while the intention is good, sometimes I wonder if we ignore Earth Day most years because 1) we’re still recovering from Easter, 2) Don’t have the time and 3) think we can either do it later or someone else will do it so I don’t have to.
This year, I hope its going to be different. Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic. We’re all told to stay home and cover our faces. The cars on the road have gone down, the people out and about are dwindling in number and it is super quiet now when I walk my dog late at night. Yet-at the same time mother nature has been given roam to breathe a little. You can see the snow on the mountains from the breach in Southern California. There is no layer of brown cloudiness coming east from downtown LA to our house 40 miles east. Animals are coming out into the streets. And while a little of me thinks its the “springtime” renewal, the other part of me thinks its humanity pressing less on creation.
Also, as a kid, I wanted to all I could to allow nature to grow. I would get internally mentally upset about doing the “wrong” things and not taking care of the Earth. And while i’m not sure if this is related to my autistic self or just my nature, but whenever I felt i was going something wrong, I always wanted to work to fix it. To make it right. In addition to all the thoughts above–I also wanted to share something I thought never would be possible for our family. Due to our old gas guzzler of a car (our Honda Pilot that we have owed for 7 years) needing more work than it was worth–we decided to purchase a replacement vehicle. We wanted to purchase a vehicle that was more gas efficient. Something better for the environment and for our budget. And while the smaller cars were mostly in the market–we ended up purchasing an ELECTRIC KIA SOUL! We didn’t even know that one existed until we were going out shopping for a Ford Fusion hybrid and discovered this car instead.
Now, let me tell you. I did not think I would ever own a black car. But this one I thought was pretty. I got into the vehicle and it was SO QUIET because we had no engine-just a battery powering everything. Oh-by the way -did I mention its ELECTRIC!? yeah, we learned real quick about electric cars and charging ports and APPLE CAR PLAY! (okay okay, i know its an earth day post, but I haven’t talked about it much since and its kinda like helping the earth? right?
So however you celebrate earth day–by planting a tree in your backyard or growing your garden or by replacing a large suv with a more gas efficient car. Respect Mother Earth! And we’ll all make it thru this pandemic together!
Anyone else feel that this date, April 20th, needs a little help? Something new? Something more exciting and fun and loving? First things-if you’re born on this day, Shout it Out! Let’s see all the amazing other birthdays. And FYI this may be my autistic mind having sensitivities to random things like dates/smells/details that no one else thinks about. So if you truly love this date-don’t take this personally-its like me not liking the color Brown. Just a personal preference.
I know–you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Being autistic, any topic is fair game in my mind for discussion–and unless it involves upsetting personal experiences or personal relationship (like family-i’m a Hufflepuff loyal and true)–I’m pretty non judgmental about the discussion. So back to today, you see, today has MANY bad associations with it. It is Hilter’s birthday. It is the day of the Columbine High School shootings, one of the first mass shootings in America. There are several sites (including onthisday.com ) where one can see a lot of the negative things that happen. Finally the association this date has with smoking weed (whatever your opinion on it) gives people either an excuse to excess (not always a good idea) or a level of disrespect towards something we should be working to be accept and better monitor. (see history of term in this interesting article .)
So let’s decide TODAY that April 20th is not longer going o be this negative date in the midst of springs bloom. Or in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that only makes it worse.
Oh MY Gosh my friends! you will not believe this. I was able to locate someone nearby (a professional psychology with a PhD and all) who was willing to properly evaluated me on wether or not I am autistic. And it is happening THIS FRIDAY!! By the time you read this, it will be two days away from me getting this done. And while I would love to give away the details– I am respecting this person’s practice because I would not want a flood of people come to her for something offered to me individually. But truly-I think I almost cried knowing this might actually be happening.
So I wanted to talk a little about what’s been going through my mind as I prepare for this:
First, I am completely nervous. like “What if its not true?” “what if i’m a liar at al this?” feverous. I pride myself on trying to live the most honest and direct life, because to me its confusing when people start lying. I don’t know what’s real, what to expect and can tear me up emotionally. So I am trying to control my nerves as I wait to meet/talk with this person over video conferencing again…
Second, I have been spending a great deal of time trying to remember everything I have already reviewed with my therapist (MFT) who doesn’t think I am but thinks I’m “neurologically different.” However, I brought up some very common terminology that is used in autistic communities and she didn’t know it (or at least let me know that she did) which makes me think she doesn’t know how to read an adult female autistic as well as the ADHD (which she can test in.) Also, luckily she has already written a lot of this down already in the letter to my psychologist (the second one who actually read the letter) and so remember that wasn’t as hard. However, its the really early stuff that I am not sure on. So i’ve been mentally sitting and trying to remember what I can and writing it down.
Third, I am an emotional wreck this week. I cannot regulate myself well because of transitioning thru SO MANY things and frankly I just want to be left alone for an evening by myself. But its almost impossible because my whole family is here as well. This is why i used to hang at Starbucks or Coffee Bean by myself. To hid away unknown. I even did it at Disneyland. I will figure out a way. Even if I sit in a closet one night. I will make it through this.
Anyways– any adult autistics have any insight? Anything that would help me prepare? Or anyone that has known me for a long time like to comment? Insight is always helpful on these things.
Wow-Yesterday was Easter. Until this year, arguably one of the most heavily packed church seasons. A day that typically, any autistic would be super nervous about since 1) there is an overload of sensory stimulants from increased volume of people, food (honestly things that smell horrible) and energies; 2) it is hard to read people on what their doing because it is a holiday and neurotypical people like to communicate differently on these type of days and 3) did I mention the sensory stuff? Did I? OK-just checking.
As my previous blog discussed, my son colored in my Bible. And part of our discussion came up about what we worship. We determined that while the Bible is sacred and holy, we do not worship it, the paper that it is on or the people who wrote it. We are called to worship God. And it got me thinking– what would worship look like from an autistic point of view? I actually have been thinking this a lot–when I got to church, trying to wonder if what we’re communicating would translate to someone who communicates differently. It’s not something a lot of people think about normally– let alone in church.
Well, first is how we define worship. It is adoration to God. I would argue it does not need to be proper. It does need to be set apart. Something of praise and singing (maybe) and thanksgiving. Hey-King David danced naked in front of the Ark of the Covenant in worship of God (yep-look it up and NO, I do not recommend this at all in public.) But other than that-it really doesn’t have any guidelines. Prayer is part of worship. Singing definitely. Reading of the Word and a message for sure. And even communion is part of worship-gathering together to eat at God’s Table. when you break it down-it truly is fantastic. I love worship. probably my favorite thing to do. But that’s because I’m musically talented.
For an autistic though–any one of those things could be a trigger or a sensory overload or the opposite where its a hyper focus and they (**cough me cough**) cannot stop. (As a side note: I would have no problem living in a sanctuary or church. It’s always beautiful in my mind. Maybe i have all those overnight sleepovers at church to thank as a kid, who knows.) So I think as Christians we need to thinks/see/live worship differently. Just as we are experiencing now. Maybe for an autistic, it is a prayer room. Where one spends time in silence to God. Or maybe its a blank canvas with all types of markers and crayons. Or drums set up perfectly in line to bang against for a good 20 minutes. Or to just be silent. Talking is not necessary for worship. Or maybe its turning off the lights. Or using a favorite smell (oils are good for this) for incense to focus your mind and senses on God.
I wish I had photos of this–but after I traveled to Munich, Germany, I was part of running a 24-7 prayer room for a week in the downtown area of my school town. We were allowed in a location that was going out for lease. We were able to build it up a little and maintained a small bed/sleeping area for the overnight security and managed to keep people praying for an entire week. And while it did not last long ( there are 24-7 prayer rooms going on around the world actually)– I felt that it was more of a 24-7 prayer/worship room from the way we ran it. We have a bible reading corner with different types of Bibles, a map of the world where you could pin things to pray for those around the world. We had a news source area if you were motivated to prayer for certain situations. And we did have worship a couple times, including communion for those who wanted to participate. (if you want to see what is being done, here’s the group: https://www.24-7prayer.com . Or read the book “Red Moon Rising”-dang the imagery is great)
Then second-what do we worship. Well, that’s easy (you’d think). We worship God. But sometimes during the week, in other realms, we don’t really worship him. We worship the green coffee god, or the money god, or the “i need to fit in or be popular’ god. Worship should be God focused. If you get lost about it, pray. Seek out healthy places of worship. For a while, I couldn’t focused so I listed to a christian radio station. now-don’t get me started I feel the Christian Rock scene is complete outdated and needs a revamp and redefinition-but-I did it to help keep me focused on God. And it helped. I don’t worship my Bible. But having its pages to interact and explore with helped me reopen myself to worship. Circling back around to the original comments–My son getting involved in the only way he knew as an autistic 3year old kid was a little worship together as a family. Sometimes I hope he comes out of childhood remembering.
If you’re autistic and Christian-let me hear your ideas for worship? Anything you’d like that doesn’t happen at your church? Anything you love about your services?
Today is Good Friday. We are at the “high-low” of Easter Holy Week. The week that sorta feels a lot like this COVID-19 quarantining this year. Up and down emotions, confusion, darkness and solitutde. So I thought after a major discussion happened on my facebook post about my child coloring my bible (romans 8 to be exact-one of my undergrad professors would be proud), I thought I would look into what “holy” translates to someone who is autistic.
First–let’s look at holy in the Bible itself. The word “holy” is used all throughout the Bible and is comes from the root word meaning “dedicated” or separated ( Click here to see Strong’s connections) In Genesis, humans are, from the beginning, holy, for we are definitely separated from the rest of creation (humans get two creation stories — that’s a whole other toipc–and created in God’s own image (actually–holy means to come from God.) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the entire tribes of Israel are considered holy for they are separated from the rest of humanity to be the image and reflection of God. Holiness and holy action is discussed throughout Exodus as Israel leaves Egypt and wanders the desert. David is a holy king, appointed by God to be different, to be sacred, to be set apart. By the time Jesus comes, we are all called to be holy. Even in Romans (chapter 12) Paul calls Christians to be holy sacrifices. Yeah, we could spend hours upon hours studying what this term looks like in the Bible-but I also have ADHD. So I’m moving on.
So what does this mean for an autistic? And what does this have to do with my son coloring in my Bible?
First-if we, as holy already in the eyes of God, are called to act holy, then autistics are already holy in their nature. They are already set apart. Now-I am NOT saying that others are not. But autistic people typically struggle with being different then others. Being pushed aside, set apart and not for positive reasons. Actually- Neurodivergent in its nature meanings being differently wired. And as an autistic, my different-ness is actually something I can related to in being “set apart for God.” That’s a blessing truly. It’s comforting to know I can related to being different because, well, I already am. Since I was a child (and maybe I have my parents to thank for taking me to church for many years), I never thought me being different as a bad thing.
More like the orange sprinkle in a bag of mixed colors. And I was just being myself (my true self) and that was the only thing that mattered. I pushed what may have been misunderstanding and confusion into “well, I am just going to be me.” I still tried doing the right thing. I truly took to heart “what if God knew this”… which terrified me some times but it was never pushed in our house or church really… and I work hard to still have a relationship with God to make sure I am reflecting what “holy” looks like thru autistic female adult mothering eyes/actions.
Second-being holy does NOT have to deal with communication or socialization. It can be a physical sense of being set apart (wow- social distancing can be holiness in a way!) or it can be a mental separation-for some actions are revealed differently only thru your intentions. So, if I don’t know how to communicate. Or figure out how someone does something– its okay. That’s what not makes me holy. Actually, biblically speaking, its your relationship with God (which can be reflected in how you interact with other people–but not by their judgment, by God’s alone) that does more to reflect your holiness. If you reflect God, then you try to act like God and the judgement of you, your actions and your heart are left up to God. So-my son-who I know is 1) already holy in his human nature and 2) a child innocent of doing things intentionally so his mental actions are not yet fully formed and 3) does not know how to read/write/communicate that well –MAY consider coloring in my bible with pink crayons that I gave him as a gift of holiness and definitely is a gift of a adorable memory he will give me for years. It will help me to remember how one Sunday morning, due to quarantine rules and worshiping from home, my child interacted with me in service in the only way he knows how–by coloring in Romans 8.
Of Course-Being Good Friday-don’t forget that holiness does have hope in it. If we, as Christians, are called to be holy, then we are called to be the reflection of the Holy Spirit-a gift that was given by the One God who defines holiness. I know it is dark and bleak. But I hope that the holiness we reflect and we see around the world will win out the day. I know it did thousands of years ago. And I truly believe it will now.
So go be Holy. It’s easier anyways. And await the excitement that is coming Sunday!