One of the wonderful things that the internet has done is that it has given a voice to those with autism. Those who once were a complete enigma to those of us who just could not understand them, now have a platform to share their gifts and frustrations with a world that did not know how to listen to them.
What we have come to hear now is all too often surprisingly sad. Story after story of misunderstanding, mistreatment and abuse is told by those who were only able to advocate for themselves after the fact.
What Matthew 25 means to you whose autism has allowed you to be mistreated is profound. It means that not only does The God of the Universe see what happens to you, He stands behind you at all times taking careful note of all your interactions with others. He records who victimizes you, who ignores you and who works their butt off to get to know you give you what you need.
He does not stop there; He actually steps into your place. Jesus literally takes on your burden and shares it equally with you. ‘If you ignore him, you ignore Me. If you bully him, you bully Me. If you violate her rights, you violate My rights. But if you love her, then you love Me. One day, you will answer for it all.’
God could not take what is done to you or for you any more personally!
Imagine if every time 5th grader Teddy Willis was bullied on the playground, that George Bush stepped out from behind the slide flanked by the Secret Service and said, “Hey Jimmy. Com’mere. You know that name you just called my boy Teddy? Well as far as I am concerned, you just called me that name. You can either tell him you shoudn’t a dunnit, say you are sorry and give him one of your Sweet Tarts and I will forget this ever happened, or you can keep it up and see if I don’t make your life as miserable as an armadillo in a twister starting a 12:01 A.M. on your 18th birthday. Now what is it gonna be?”
That pales in comparison to what is going on in God’s economy.
With your ‘disability’ to function like the neurotypical do in this world, you are given a special position and a peek into who gets God’s pleasure and who will ultimately exhaust God’s patience and earn His judgment. It all happens right in front of your eyes.
Yours is a high honor. Take care to receive it with humility.
There is another important truth that has to be explored here, and that is the much discussed identity of the autistic individual. In this broken worldly economy, those with autism and those around them spend a lot of time and energy trying to define autism and autistics, and trying to make value judgments; because as we are all coming out of the dark, we are trying to give meaning to this autistic life that is so difficult and has been so devalued.
Allow me for the moment to sweep all those volumes of debate to the side and tell you who God says you are and who you are not.
You are not your autism, even if you want to be.
You are not your hair color, your eye color, your height, your weight, your race, your gender; you are not what you look like. You are not your personality, your education, your verbal ability, your popularity, your intelligence, your math skills, your DSM diagnosis, your addiction to chocolate, your favorite hobby, your blog hit count, your family history, your genetic code, your physical ills, your highest accomplishment or your worst failure.
None of these things add anything to your value, none of these things take away the slightest bit from your value.
You are not what you seem to be compared to the next guy.
You are not who your parents say you are, you are not who your school mates say you are, you are not who your friends say you are, you are not who your love interest says you are, you are not who you say you are, and you are not who I say you are.
You are who God says you are. He made you and He is the one who gets to defines you.
Here is who He says you are:
You are someone whose whole life was planned out by God long before you were born.
You are someone who God put together with delicate precision in your mother’s womb.
God says you are, “wonderful”.
You are someone that God thinks about constantly and preciously.
You are God’s “workmanship” created for a very specific job. There are tasks that only you can do.
You are someone that God is jealous over. He hates it when other things distract your attention away from Him.
You are so valuable to God that you were worth dying for. Have you seen The Passion? He did that for you.
Max Lucado describes Jesus’ decision leave the quiet life of a carpenter and begin his public ministry, knowing that it would lead to his death so that he could get you back, like this:
…”If there was hesitation on His part of humanity, it was overcome by the compassion of His divinity. His divinity heard the voices. His divinity heard the hopeless cries of the poor, the bitter accusations of the abandoned, the dangling despair of those who are trying to save themselves.
And His divinity saw the faces. Some wrinkled. Some weeping. Some hidden behind veils. Some obscured by fear. Some earnest with searching. Some blank with boredom. From the face of Adam to the face of the infant born somewhere in the world as you read these words, He saw them all.
And you can be sure of one thing. Among the voices that found their way into that carpentry shop in Nazareth was your voice. Your silent prayers uttered on tear-stained pillows were heard before they were said. Your deepest questions about death and eternity were answered before they were asked. And your direst need, your need for a Savior, was met before you ever sinned.
And not only did He hear you, He saw you. He saw your face aglow the hour you first knew Him. He saw your face in shame the hour you first fell. The same face that looked back at you from this mornings mirror, looked at Him. And it was enough to kill Him.
He left because of you. He laid his security down with His hammer. He hung tranquility on the peg with His nail apron. He closed the window shutters on the sunshine of His youth and locked the door on the comfort and ease of anonymity.
Since He could bear your sins more easily than He could bear the thought of your hopelessness, He chose to leave. It wasn’t easy. Leaving the carpentry shop never has been.”
God loves you. He does not love you for what you can do, He loves you because He made you, and you are His child. Because you are His child, and I can attest to this as the mother of an autistic child, He absolutely LONGS to know you and be known by you.
And what ever your language is, He speaks it.
Additionally, you can know God in a way that I can’t while I am on this earth. My beautiful husband Scott is on the spectrum, while I am no where near it. I have found that when we talk about God he has a perspective on Him that I just don’t have. While I see and relate to the part of God’s personality that is the Father, Scott most appreciates His role as the creator and feels closest to Him when he is creating and building.
Who ever you are reading this right now, you can understand God and worship a part of Him that other people can’t. He is vast and infinite and each of us only gets to see a little part of Him while we are in this life.
I figure it this way, if the neurotypical mind has such trouble understanding the autistic mind, because you see the world from such a different vantage point, then I probably could only faintly guess at the part of God that can appreciated by you.
Who ever you are is the you that God is in love with. It does not matter if you are a high functioning Aspie or if your autism is so severe that no one in your life even believes that you are cognizant of the world around you. The world might value you for your contributions, but God values you for you.
God does not need you to be anything, except His.
The bottom line is this: You are valuable because He says you are valuable and He is the one, the only one, who sets the standard for absolute value.
No ability or disability that you have can touch that.