If you have read any of my books or have been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I write quite a bit about contentment.
It is a simple concept, really, but so many people seem to struggle with it. I don’t really understand it because it is so simple, so easy. You just make up your mind to be content with what you have.
That’s the way it is for me anyway.
See, being content with what God has given you is a discipline. It isn’t much different from any other discipline. You have to work at it, stick with it and hone it until it is second nature.
I can tell you firsthand that there is nothing that compares to the peace that comes from true contentment. God said that He would give us, those who live for Him, what we need. He said He would never leave us nor forsake us.
This means that as long as we are plugged in to Jesus and trying our best to live for Him, He is going to make sure that our needs are met.
It is important, though, to understand the difference between what we need and what we want. Sometimes what we want is not what we need. In fact, I will take it a step even farther and say that sometimes getting the things that we want could destroy us.
And we have a wise, loving Father who knows this. He knows what is best for us and He wants what is best for us.
The stumbling block that many experience when it comes to contentment is actually trusting Him.
Do you trust God enough to turn your life over to Him and be content with Him plan for you? Do you trust that He knows what is best for you? Do you trust that He will give you all that you need (even if it isn’t all you want)?
Autism Ribbon Zipper Pull
Autism Puzzle Heart Lapel Pin
There are a lot of other things on the site, but these were the ones that caught my eye. What do you think?
A few years ago, a woman approached the doors of a church. Her stomach twisted into knots as she opened the door. She was with a friend, but it made little difference. Her friend was “normal;” she was not. The smile on her face belied her anxiety and apprehension. Would these people accept her? Could she possibly fit in with them? These were her only thoughts as she found a seat.
She watched people talking with each other, walking past her. While a few stopped to shake her hand, most passed right on by - almost as if she wasn’t even there. Years of experience told her that she, in fact did NOT fit in, that she would not be accepted because she was too different, too strange, too odd (she had no understanding yet of the devil and his lies). They called it autism, but she thought of it more as the “don’t fit in disorder.” She sat on the outside of their social bubble and watched.
A few services later (she very rarely, if ever missed) she gathered the nerve to walk forward during altar call. She didn’t quite make it all the way to the front – it was just too much. She stood awkwardly on the fringes of the group, watching, alone, waiting for - what? Who would want to pray for her? She was such a sinner, nothing like these people who were so holy and who seemed to know how to pray. She watched, standing on the outside, just beyond the altar. And no one noticed.
That night, she went home and said to her friend, “I don’t belong, anywhere.”
Her friend started including her, drawing her in. Others in the church followed his lead and began reaching out to her. For a year she never quite made it to the altar, but a few people would step beyond the altar and come to her, reach out to her.
At the end of that year I received the Holy Ghost.
Fast forward several years. A young woman walks into a church. She is very quiet, reserved. It is easy to not see her, she rarely makes any noise. No one sees the struggle within her, but her mother cries out to God every night to save her little girl. He is leading her to this church, working in her, stirring her and a hunger is growing.
But she is unsure, apprehensive, shy and maybe even scared. There is so much she does not understand, so much she wants to know but can’t find the right questions. The words escape her. She listens though. Sometimes her head is down, but later she can explain what was taught.
She went to the Ladies Conference and something stirred her more. She was excited. No one could tell, but her mother could. There was something different in her spirit, something stirring, something hungry, something curious, something ignited.
The day after returning there is an altar call. She starts to get up, and then sits back down, unsure. Her mother nods, tells her it is OK. She walks toward the front but stops at the fringe of the altar. For several moments she waits, watches, standing awkwardly but no one notices her because she is beyond the altar.
That night she goes home and posts on FaceBook, “I don’t fit in...anywhere.”
This isn’t anyone’s fault – no one to blame, but we should be sensitive to the people with needs who are beyond the altar.
Because we rush to the altar so quickly, so readily, we just assume that everyone else is just like us.
But they are not.
We need to broaden our scope of vision. Yes, the people who come to the altar need prayer, but there are people who don’t quite make it there that still need something. There are people who stand on the fringe, just beyond the altar, shifting from foot to foot, feeling awkward and unsure. They long for someone to reach out, to draw them in and when it does not happen they automatically think that it is something wrong with them.
These people may not understand the love that God has for them. They may not understand that the sin they carry is the very reason they need to approach the altar and not a reason they are unable. They need to feel like they belong.
We should be drawing people in. Watch, observe, pay attention, listen – especially during altar call. They may not dress the way we do or look the way we do. They may not raise their hands or pray aloud. But everyone has to start somewhere.
It is God’s will that everyone – EVERYONE – be saved. Jesus met people where they were. He did not say that He would only heal them if they raised their hands in worship and dressed a certain way. He met them right where they were and let His love make the difference and start the changes.
Not everyone is bold. Not everyone knows that they can be bold. Some people believe that they do not deserve God’s love or healing or even to be embraced by the body.
We don’t know what people are carrying when they walk through those doors. Behind that smile may be a feeling of not belonging, of being a misfit.
But if they are brave enough to keep coming through those doors, we need to be committed enough to keep trying to draw them in – even those who stand awkwardly beyond the altar.
I was fleeing an abusive relationship. I started 2,400 miles away from "home" (Louisiana - my parents' house). I had managed to get to Texas. It was midnight, I had two young children with me, no money and the low fuel light on the dash was blinking at me.
I had no idea what I was going to do.
I wasn't living for God. Sure, I tossed a prayer His way now and then. We didn't really have a "relationship" though. It was more like a "I'll call on you when I need you" sort of thing.
And I rarely thought I needed Him.
I was too blind - or too dumb - or both - to see how much He did in my life, how He moved, how He made everything happen.
But that is another story for another day.
I was leaving Montana after being in a horribly abusive, adulterous relationship. I was broken, exhausted and had no clue what I was going to do next. As I drove the 34 foot moving van (that I had loaded myself with stove, fridge, washer, dryer and all the furniture in my house) that was pulling my '81 Ford Bronco on a trailer, I began to believe I had bit off more than I could chew. My daughter and son, 10 and 8 respectively, sat in the cab of the truck with me. They had no idea that I had no idea what we were going to do and how we were going to complete our journey.
We were tapped out. No money for fuel or food. We had a few more miles and it would end. We would be stranded. The cell phone I had used for the trip had died the day before and I had not been able to recharge it (this was early on in the cell phone times - we weren't as sophisticated back then).
But my family couldn't help anyway. They were living on a shoestring budget too.
I couldn't go back, though, so I pressed forward, my headlights cutting the darkness to only reveal more darkness. My hope was fading quickly.
I chose this time to toss up one of those prayers to God, though. "God," I said, "If you are really there; if you really hear me, I could sure use some help right about now. I know I am just coming to you like this out of the blue and it's kinda weird, but I really need some help and you are the only one I can think of to call on."
Good thing God doesn't require flattery or ego boosts. I pretty much told Him that He was my last hope - and He was.
Not long after that, I pulled off the interstate to stop at a fuel station. Wasn't sure what I was going to do there, but I just felt like I needed to stop. The sign was deceptive though. I did not find a fuel station at the exit (as the sign said I would). Instead it was more pitch black darkness. It might as well have been nothingness I thought as a sighed hopelessly. I slowed and swung out a little to make a U-turn.
I heard honking but did not feel anything. When I looked in my rearview mirror though, I saw that a woman had run into my trailer. She got out and was yelling at me. I just sat and let her yell. I was too defeated, too tired, to hopeless to even say more than "I'm sorry."
Apparently, though I had not swung out far, it was far enough for her to think I was changing lanes and she did not see my blinker. She tried to pass me on the left and ran smack into my trailer - and she was hopping mad at me.
She calmed down later and we actually talked. She apologized for yelling at me. I told her it was OK.
The police came. I got a ticket because my wheels were just over the line - barely, the police officer said. He said he did not want to give me the ticket, but his sergeant said he had to.
He asked me where I was coming from. I told him. He asked where I was going. I told him. He went about his business.
When everyone had gone, though, he told me to follow him. He said he was going to show me how to get back on the interstate.
First, though, he led me to a convenience store where he put fuel in my truck and bought food and drinks for my kids and me. Then he opened his wallet and gave me $200 saying, "I wish I had more to give you."
I will never, ever forget that night.
He got us back on the interstate and we made it to my parents' home without further incident, arriving in the late morning.
I will never, ever forget that night. It was one of the times that I can look back and know I felt God moving although I was too ignorant to recognize it. But it lets me know that He has been there for me all along, through my mess ups, my blinding errors and now as I live for Him, through my mess ups and blinding errors. He holds me close and gives me these wonderful testimonies to share with others so that they can come to know Him. Though a lot of water has passed under that bridge, I can see God's hand in so many times in my life when I felt alone and abandoned. I never was.
But that one night has stayed with me. That one time I cried out to God in my blundering, unbelieving way and He showed me a love that was bigger than I could ever imagine. It took me years to piece it all together, to see just what He did and how He can use the most dire times of our life to make the biggest, brightest miracles.
Certainly He knew that I would come to Him, would one day live for Him, but I don't think that was why He answered my desperate prayer. I think He just wanted me to know that He was there and that He could move in ANY situation, even the most dire and depressing.
He made a way for a lost woman, knowing (I believe in my heart) that it would be years before she would be "found" and come to Him. Yet He still provided a way in the darkness...
I am a person.
I am not a drone that exists to do your bidding. I honor your authority because God placed you there, but He did not put you there so you could abuse, belittle, demean, provoke, harm or take advantage of me.
I am a person.
I am not an expendable commodity that can be used up then tossed away.
I am a person.
I think. I feel. I laugh, I cry.
I am moved by a beautiful sunset.
I weep when I am in God’s presence.
I get hungry and thirsty and tired.
Sometimes my body gives out, I cannot help it.
I cannot help that I am different from you.
I cannot help that you see my disability as a dysfunction, a defect, an imperfection, an inconvenience.
I cannot help that you believe my disability to be a problem, a difficulty for you. How little and self-absorbed is your world! You only see how it affects you; how it inconveniences you.
Lately, it seems this is happening more and more.
Because in this place
· I am a commodity
· I am a number
· I am a drone
· I am a shadow
· I am an inconvenience
I am a bothersome something to shove into a corner and forget, ignore, until it is discovered I am useful for something.
Here, I am expendable.
Here, in this place that I give a minimum of 40 hours of my life every week – not including the 15 hours a week traveling to and from.
160 hours a month
1,920 hours a year.
· Always ready to help
But all they see, all you see, is a problem
· Someone difficult
· Someone who does not matter
I walk through the doors and my humanity is brutally stripped from me – from behind closed doors, under the protection of a computer screen, with words and decisions and policies created in the dark and remaining in a vacuum.
A name on a screen is not a human, just a number; just a collection of textual characters in a personnel file. You don’t have to remember it is a human and it is easy to forget because you avoid the humanity.
And the frustration and pain flow over me in tortured waves that take my breath from me, making my heart leap and pound in my chest.
And it goes home with me.
Home. The one place I am safe. The one place I can relax and be me. Yet they have managed to get there too. You have managed to slither into my home, my time.
Nowhere is safe.
You ignore my simple requests for help, for accommodation. You don’t want to be bothered. It does not affect your world, only mine. Therefore, it is not important to you – not important in your kingdom.
“Disabled” does not mean “useless.”
And employee requesting reasonable accommodations is not a n employee being difficult.
I make accommodations every single day to exist in your world.
I just ask that you make a few for me, to make it easier, so I can be more productive.
But, you ignore it, reject it.
I did not choose to be this way.
I did not create this.
I did not make it up.
This is my birthright, my destiny.
This is ME.
I did not choose to be different.
But I am.
And I have learned to embrace it; to embrace ME – just as God made me.
I am not a number.
I am not a drone.
I am not an expendable commodity.
I am a person.
I have value.
People love me.
People care about me.
And I love and care about people.
You do not determine my place in this world, who I am.
And you can’t take ME away, change who I am just because you don’t care.
If you can’t see my value, I am sorry for you.
But I AM NOT GOING AWAY!
When you are in a worldly situation, you do not change yourself to fit the world. You change the situation to fit GOD. I will not back down, will not stop seeking His face in all that I do, will not turn from His ways to fit into your world.
10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
~1 Peter 5:10
I have come to learn that tears are healing. They mean that God is working on something in you or someone you are praying for. It is humbling to allow tears to fall and a display of submission when you allow God to humble you to the point you allow your tears to fall in front of people (Bible study, church, prayer).
As I was preparing to attend my first UPCI East Coast Women’s Conference, I felt overwhelmed. To put it mildly, I was a nervous wreck. I was not accustomed to being around a lot of people and if you are familiar with Spirit-filled Christians, we can be a lively bunch. I was concerned about the sensory overload I was almost certain to experience.
Most of all, though, I was concerned about how the change in routine would affect me. Change tends to upset me and exacerbate my negative reactions to sensory input. I would likely be singing songs I had never heard, much less knew. I would be attending services that would be different from the services I was accustomed to attending. I would be around a bunch of people I did not know and who did not know me.
I didn’t know if they would accept me or view me as some sort of weirdo. The enemy was really playing with me head, telling me that I was different, that I did not fit in with “those women.” He set me up to be rejected. In fact, in my mind I was rejected before I even got there.
As much as I want people to like me and accept me, though, the biggest issue for me was the change in routine. When things are “out of order” I get very disoriented, even dizzy. When things are out of order and it is very active with lots of noise, it leads straight to a meltdown.
The worse part, though, is that I get deep pains throughout my body, like electrical shocks. There is an “undercurrent” that pulses through my entire body, and pain “surfaces” in various areas, the location changing rather rapidly. It may go from leg to hand to neck to foot in a matter of seconds. It is as if my brain is trying to find or create the neural pathways that can manage that sensory overload.
It can be very uncomfortable, painful. I have been this way my entire life. Because of it, I have often avoided large crowds, events, even certain church functions.
As I prayed the morning I was to leave, though, Jesus spoke to me and if I hadn’t been cultivating a relationship with Him over time and stopped to listen I probably would have missed it. Daily prayer is so important!
He said, “I am healing you.” He didn’t say, “I will heal you” or “I am going to heal you,” He said, “I am healing you.” It was right then, right there, I was being healed as I sat on that bus praying.
I understood, in a flash, that the pain and disorientation are not the result of my being “broken” or defective. They come from healing. I was being healed.
I understood that my scars are not from my sin or my defects, but from my healing.
Jesus gave me permission to be distressed and to react to the discomfort and pain. But by powering through it (even if I cry or react in ways that exhibit my discomfort) I am allowing His healing to take place. And the next time it won’t be so bad. It will get better and better and easier and easier. I have to get there because He has shown me that one day I will be speaking before groups. I can speak in front of a group, but the socializing part terrifies me. This was His way of letting me know that He is in control and He won’t turn me loose on a crowd until I am ready.
If I had not had a prayer life I would not have understood that. If I hadn’t been filled with the Holy Spirit I would not have understood that. All of these things are like pieces of an intricate puzzle. They support each other and each has a place to fit. It takes work, though.
I got to the conference and it was just as loud and active as I thought it would be. And I did feel the pains, the shocks, but I knew what they were. By the end of the morning service on the second day, they were significantly less noticeable. I did not have the first problem with sensory overload.
I was in a room of 800 weeping, crying, wailing, travailing, dancing, praising yelling women and I did not experience the first instance of sensory overload. In fact, I was more focused on God, more in touch with him – and infinitely more grateful to his loving, healing touch.
At one point, in one of the services the Holy Spirit had broken out amongst the women and they were dancing, weeping, singing, yelling – it was very loud and very active. But I sat right there in the midst of it all, calm. I felt a hand on my right shoulder. My pastor’s wife and a friend were sitting behind me and I thought, “Oh, how nice! They are praying for me!”
But when I looked back, no one was there.
I still felt the hand and felt an arm across my shoulders.
Then I became aware of a peaceful, calming presence beside me, on my left – with His arm around me. I just leaned into that presence and, for the first time in my life, took in all the noise and lights and activity without any anxiety. Never had I been able to be in an environment like this without medication.
By the time we left to go home, I realized that I was looking people in the eye – something that had always been extremely difficult for me to do.
I never asked for this healing, but Jesus gave it to me anyway. I certainly did not deserve such a wondrous gift, but He gave it to me anyway.
From the book "More Fringe: My Growth as a Spirit-Filled Christian with Asperger's Syndrome"
I had a rough morning.
When I got up, I had one of my headaches. As it progressed, I became nauseated, dizzy, disoriented and the pain seemed to radiate from my head down my neck to my shoulders and back.
I had been trying to get ready for work, but knew I would not make it as long as I was like this.
I went and laid down on my bed. As I lay there, the headache and nausea got worse and worse. I got very, very hot, despite the fact that I was uncovered and the AC was on. I began to sweat.
I could hear my husband in the living room listening to a preacher on his computer. I got hotter, the pain was almost unbearable and the nausea was terrible.
Then, in an instant I felt nothing. It seemed as if the whole world just fell away from me. It was like I fell into the bottom of a funnel. The preacher’s words got softer and softer until I could not hear anything. It was dark and, well, nothing. I wasn’t hot or cold, didn’t feel anything at all.
I was vaguely aware of a shaking, a jerking, very rhythmic. My dog began to whine. I could hear here but it sounded far, far away even though she was right next to my bed. She placed her front paws on the bed, something she never does with me unless I invite her (and even then I have to coax her because she knows I do not allow her on the bed). She was licking my face (something else she does not do). Somewhere in myself I wanted to make her stop licking my face. I was aware but I couldn’t feel it. I also found I couldn’t move to put my hands up and make her stop.
Then it was over. I felt like I was slammed back to me, my body, the pain and nausea. I gently pushed my dog away – she stopped whining as soon as I started moving. But she sat next to me with her chin on the edge of the bed, watching me.
The pain and nausea began to subside, slowly at first, then rather rapidly and was replaced with extreme exhaustion. I was SO TIRED I felt as if I could not open my eyes, couldn’t lift my arms, couldn’t sit up. I rested a moment; then I did get up. I had to go to work.
Now, 5 or so hours later I am beginning to feel better. Still very groggy and tired, but up and about and working. Looking forward to going home this evening, though. I just want to rest.
Thank you, Jesus! I did not have to miss a whole day! Grateful to God that it happened, is over and I did not lose an entire day because of it.
God is good!
I love my church. I love the people in my church.
Lately, though, I have been struggling with some sensory issues there.
Every Sunday, before service, the sanctuary is open for prayer. The lights are dimmed and music is played. I have long enjoyed this special time to prepare myself for service, my heart to receive the Word God has for me and my mind to understand. I do some warfare as well. It is an important time for me.
However, for the past three weeks, the setting for the volume of the music played during prayer has changed. It is loud - very loud. Where before you could whisper and be heard, now you have to talk loud. This means that people who come in and say hello are talking louder than normal - which is distracting. The music is at an unbearable level which is distracting and uncomfortable - physically painful.
I don't talk during prayer, but if I have to communicate with my husband, such as asking him to let me out of the aisle so I can walk around while praying, is nearly impossible without being completely disruptive. The mood, for me at least, is completely changed. I don't have the peacefulness that I did before. Now I am battling the physical pain and the distraction of music that is blaring, stinging my ears and setting off a series of electrical bursts throughout my nervous system.
So, I go outside to pray. I sit on the steps behind the church, alone. I know I am never alone because Jesus is with me, but I do miss the opportunity to pray with my brothers and sisters in the sanctuary as we prepare for service.
The thing is, no one else seems to notice.
My husband did say that the music is loud. He confirmed that it is louder than it has been. The first week I went outside to pray. My husband said something last week and they lowered the volume, but this week it was loud again. I had to go outside again to pray.
I don't want to say anything again because I don't want to bother anyone. The last thing I want to do is be a bother. My husband understands.
So, instead of being able to pray in the sanctuary with everyone else, I just go outside alone. It makes me sad because I really miss praying inside. I just wish they could lower the volume during prayer time. But it isn't my place to ask for such things. It is my place to adapt in the ways I know how to adapt, especially if I am the only one who is bothered by the loud, loud volume.
I just feel bad, but I won't allow anything to keep me from praying. I won't allow anything to keep me from getting the most I can from each service, each message, each lesson.
This is just one more adaptation for me to exist in a neuro-typical world. I am the alien, I have to make the adjustments, the adaptations, the accommodations. I can't bother people with my alien idosyncricies.
I struggle when I do not have clear direction. It causes me to be very anxious when I don’t know what is expected of me, especially when my I am being evaluated on my performance. That is what is happening to me right now. I know I am being evaluated at work, but I don’t know the criteria by which I am judged.
It is so stressful.
I don’t know if the people don’t realize how stressful it is, or if they even care, or if they don’t really know themselves. I don’t know if they like me or not, if they are upset with me – no one talks to me and I can’t tell.
I am struggling so much now at work because of this. My performance is being evaluated but I don’t know what they are looking for. I don’t know what they want from me or what they expect.
I just know that some unfair determinations have been made and I am being punished for expectations that I apparently did not meet. But no one told me what those expectations were.
I feel like I am groping around in a dark room, looking for a needle in a hay stack – and my life depends on finding that needle.
I did not realize how much this has been weighing on me until the other day. I met a woman on the bus, we were talking and she drove me home from the commuter lot so I would not have to walk. She was a very kind woman who loves God. She was very encouraging. What struck me, though, was that she, a complete stranger to me, recognized that something was weighing on me, bothering me. When she dropped me off, before I got out of the car, we prayed together and in her prayer she asked God to give me peace, to life the burden that was weighing me down.
I believe that God was reminding me to trust in Him. It is very disconcerting to work so blind, not knowing what is expected of me. But as long as I work as if I am working for Him rather than for man, He will take care of me. He knows how hard I work, what I do, even if humans do not. And His opinion of me is all that matters. I know I will be OK as long as I trust in Him and continue to walk in His Word.
The only thing I can depend on is Jesus.
I can’t worry about what man wants from me, especially if they won’t communicate it to me. I have to keep my focus on Jesus.
This is why communication is so important. But Aspies really need communication. We need direction. We need clarity in goals and expectations. People examine me and what I am doing but they won’t tell me what they expect. I feel like I am being set up to fail. I am on a train careening toward a cliff and no one told me where the brake is.
Right now, I feel lost, blind, at work. I feel that I am being measured and weighed against a set of criteria that no one shared with me. It is frustrating and feels like the world isn’t very solid under my feet. This is where my faith becomes so very important.
The ground around me may be unstable, but my God is solid!
I have to trust Jesus to guide me through this dark room, to show me where the needle is. And if I don’t find it, well, it is because He is opening another door for me to walk through.