Sunday, June 10, 2007

Things I'm Learning from Autism (Part 2)

This lesson goes hand in hand with Lesson 1 (Taking is bad; asking is good). The process of teaching Pierce to ask for what he wants is only effective if what he wants is witheld from him. In order to do this, we have had to remove all the toys and books from his room, place his favorite foods out of reach, and generally put everything he desires out of his grasp. We still want him to see the things he wants, but we want those things to be accessable to him only upon request.

This brings up an interesting lesson that I find so profound. The lesson is that our desires often seem just out of reach, and there may very well be a purpose for that. When the things you really want are beyond your reach, you become patently aware of your inability to get them on your own. You realize that you need help to get that which you desire most.

In Pierce's case the toys, food, books, etc. that he really wants can only be acquired with the help of others, namely his parents. In the case of humanity, the things we really want that are out of reach are often merely reminders of our helplessness before God. Our ultimate desires are security, comraderie, happiness and love. To a certain degree we can find all of these, but not in their fullest sense. In this world, security is an illusion, comraderie is flakey and fleeting, happiness is here one minute and gone the next, and love seems to come only at a very high price. We can have all of these desires, but the elusive quality that nags at our soul is the complete fulfillment of these desires. It is the book on the highest shelf, the four star restaurant with the food we can't afford, the toy that Mom won't indulge us with at the check out line. It's that nagging sense that things aren't as they should be, that we need help to make sense of it all.

For now, the help we need is the faith that one day things will be set straight. It's the belief that this is not all there is, that the thing we desire the most will one day be realized. It is, as the Apostle Paul implied, something that we do not yet have (Romans 8:24-25), but that we are to believe nonetheless. For, as Paul says, "hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

So, what I've learned from this aspect of Autism is that the things that are out of reach are there for a reason: they make us aware of our need for help, and they instill within us a hope that some day they will not only be within our reach, but fully attainable. So, lesson 2 ends with these words: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13)

Autism Lesson 2: Desires are out of reach because they make us aware of our neediness, and fill us with hope.

1 comment:

r! said...

The thing I like most about this series you have started is because it reminds me that the things we normally think are abnormal (Autism) really are not from God's perspective. The reason I say this is because everything is created by God, and for God (Col. 1:16-17). Because your son has autism, you get to go through the experience of learning/relearning about the difficulties of life with God. Also, you get to learn about his character.

And the great thing about all this for me personally is that you share these experiences giving the community a chance to go through these experiences with you.