Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Posts tagged ‘#writing’

Odd one out?

Just the other day I had coffee with three lovely ladies who were all mums of children with disabilities. We were brainstorming ideas to support other parents through dealing with some of the everyday issues that cause so much stress.  We have a chance to work with a couple of local charities to produce materials that will hopefully be really helpful to parents of children with autism. It was a fascinating meeting, with tears and sharing, which resulted in great ideas and a sort of plan of action.

But I did feel at one point…what am I doing here? I definitely was the odd one out. To me autism is fascinating and I am passionate about helping children and families…but it is also my job and I can come home at the end of the day and have a break from it.  I admitted I am out of place in this group, as a few parents have said to me, it’s not as fascinating when you live with the consequences every day 24/7.  And what amazes me is the constant battles the parents I know have to go through. Fighting with systems and authorities to get their child understood and have their needs met. No wonder they don’t find it fascinating.

The only answer I have is a God who cares enough to put a passionate heart in an imperfect woman and use her to come alongside other imperfect people.  He has pushed me to gain knowledge and experiences that are useful contributions to our project.  He does this all over his world…bringing people together to minister and help each other, just when they need it.  He loves us and cares that we get exhausted and don’t know what to do when things get rough. He leads others on a path of knowledge and learning so that they can come at the right time to bring knowledge and life’s mess together to find the answers. I don’t know what I can do or where this will lead…but I trust a Lord who does.

People don’t fit in boxes!

What do I blog about?  Much of the advice I have read says pick one thing…and I did try.  But I found myself feeling put in a box – I’m not just about ASD even though I have a lot I want say.  I have lots of other aspects to me that I want to blog about too.

  • Jesus, and how I came to be a believer, how he forms and changes my life for good.
  • Our church group for adults with learning disabilities – it’s fantastic and there’s a lot we could share with other churches – and they with us maybe.
  • Writing – I have written a children’s novel and am working on my second and other pieces of writing that my head is full of and excited about.
  • Being a wife and mother to teenagers throws up some interesting subjects to discuss, especially as our children get older.

All people are multi-faceted.   We are created by God in his image and for his glory.  But all of us have sinned and fallen short of what he really has in store for us through our determination to go our own way and ignore God. But God loved his world so much that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Look at that word carefully….’whoever’.  Now that’s inclusive isnt it.  If you are a complicated or simple person, intellegent or have learning disabilities, are well or sick, rich or poor…then this offer is for you…it includes ALL of us.

I don’t fit into a box.  I’m not ‘typical’ of a wife, mother, teacher, writer.  All the times in my life that I have tried to fit into someone else’s idea of what I should be it didn’t work. I failed spectacularly or miserably.  I failed to live up to their expectations and my idea of what their expectations were.  Often our feelings of failure are based on wanting others to approve of us.  This is not God’s idea at all.

He loved us while we were still ignoring him, while we were still sinning, while we were still doing it our own way.  He loved us enough to die for us.

Now I get it!   I am defined by HIS LOVE FOR ME.  In that I cannot fail.  I don’t need to live up to others expectations.  I can be who he is making me to be through my faith in Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons I have such a connection with people with ASD and learning disabilities is that I recognise that they don’t fit in boxes.  Society labels them as different, outcasts, sometimes as unworthy.  To me they are each individuals, with something to contribute, and a capacity to believe in Jesus, if only someone should tell them in way they can access and understand!

I am reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

We all have God given talents (bags of gold).  I seem to have some and the people with learning disabilities I know have some too.  So I am challenged as to how I am going to use mine…including what I blog about.  In our group at church we are challenging our members to use their talents.  So people who can read, read the Bible to others.  People who can praise, praise, whether it is in tune or not.  Those who are mobile help serve tea.  All join in drama whether they are in wheelchairs, non-verbal or have a habit of calling out random things in a loud voice! 

This blog post has been very person for me and I thank you for reading the musings of a woman who is trying to work out how to serve my Lord well by sharing what he has taught me with others.  I would welcome your comments!

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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