I’m Done Blogging

I’m done blogging. Apparently after yesterday’s post, I’ve been getting quite a few DMs telling me I’m only part of the “exile problem” if I’m not reaching out to those with a lower status than myself. Here’s the thing; if anyone actually knows me personally, they will discover that I AM ON THE LOWER STATUS classification. I have also worked with a number of charities from 2012 to 2014 including Amnesty International and the Salvation Army and am currently volunteering Monday nights in ministry. So please tell me again why I’m part of the problem when I’m writing from a perspective that’s right in the effing middle of it.

I’ve been thinking about stopping this for a while. If anyone reading this thinks I’m playing the victim here, I’m partly at fault for what I’m about to say. I’ve had it with rage culture and my responses to it through this blog are actually a big part of that problem even though I’m only getting around 70 reads a day. I’m stopping blogging because I’m just tired of what’s going on in the world and I’d rather be on the ground helping when I can rather than exercising the last drive I have to use my influence through writing or art. I’m tired of Mr Trump and Mr Trudeau’s incompetence and the overload of information that is constantly being flooded in the media wether it’s the Huffington Post, fake news from Liberal America, disgusting hogwash from Infowars, or lies about the autism spectrum from Life Site News. Unless I take more time to get my hands dirty than they already are, there’s no point to blogging what I have to say.

I’ll still post stuff here and there, but I’ll be doing a bit of re-branding. None of these posts will go away but the future ones will change. Hopefully the future will look brighter once I start posting again, but for now I need to get away from everything that is bothering me right now and just concentrate on doing what I can offline to make the world a better place.

Peace out.

Just Indifferent: Christianity and the Human Condition

I’ve realized something about myself that really needs work. I really hold a grudge against those with an anti-Conservative viewpoint. I used to hate Catholics and now I’m just indifferent. I hated how teenagers smoke drank and had sex with each other like bunny rabbits, and now, I’m having a hard time loving sinners and hating sin. In other words, I still struggle with hating people. I try to forgive, but it’s a process that can take decades. I used to throw tantrums when people censor me, now I don’t care if I’m heard or not. I watch TV shows or listen to music that makes me feel dirty and guilty afterwards, yet it’s not what goes into a man that is unclean but what comes out is unclean (Matthew 15:11). Now I’m at the point where I can watch anything except rape, cult rituals, and certain scenes in movies with people swearing in tirades. And yet, even I swear too much offline sometimes.

I’m a strange man, yet I believe in God. How can I live with such a double standard that’s so hard to even let God correct? In other words, how can I be human when deep down, I want to be a hard robot that can systematically walk away from my mistakes and move on? Who I am is in between what I want to be and what I am.

Welcome to the human condition. It’s worse with Aspergers. I may just have to keep incing forward, even if I have to crawl. If I keep looking at my mistakes and not forgiving myself, I’ll be stuck in them and honestly never be corrected. Luckily, I have a loving wife, siblings and a few close friends to keep me on track. I also think that blogging about this publicly keeps me accountable as well.

Honestly Broken

“There is more hope in honest brokenness than in the pretense of false wholeness.” – Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Hello, my name is Aaron and I have a problem. I’m a computer/media addict. I’ve been binge watching a lot of Netflix shows and have also been getting into some of the Arrow-verse series in large marathons as of late. The truth is that my musical writer’s block and a lot of the recent daily socialization that is required in my life has been wearing me down to mental and even physical exhaustion. Sometimes live performances at an open mic combat the pain with a high, but that euphoria soon disappears and leaves me with a couple of hours on Tuesdays to vegetate before I go to work until Saturday nights, slaving in an environment where I need constant bathroom breaks because I’m really nervous around people.

I’m probably about to cross a line where I share too much information but let’s be honest; this very shame often pushes me deeper into myself. After that, it soon begins to poison me emotionally. Being able to blog about my own brokenness with genuine vulnerability when it is hard for me to express it in person due to AS can be healthy a lot of times. It’s an important step towards finding a sustainable and manageable life in the future. It also keeps me from feeling sorry for myself and also accountable with those who read posts like this. Don’t worry, though, I try not to mention names in this blog or post pictures of other people unless they’re known by the general public. I won’t go into details of my sexual history or the abuse I went through in my past. But I will say enough if it leads to encouragement of those few who actually come in contact with this blog.

If I were to be completely honest, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. I want to live another life; a life where I was able to make money and have more of an influence on man-kind. I want more control over my circumstances than my struggle with autism to have control over me. All I can feel is internal conflict. Me versus myself. Me versus machine. Me versus humanity, and in return, mankind versus me. The struggles just keeps going on. I’m not suicidal but I lack so much wisdom to the point where I don’t see a future for myself here anymore. Burdens just constantly keep piling onto my back.  I just feel like I’m crawling through life, barely breathing. The mountains in front of me are just too high to climb. I just need to know that God’s grace is really as sufficient for me as He claims it is.

I need a break from this blog for a bit.

Winnipeg Panhandlers Be Crazy

Wow. As if it’s not bad enough that Winnipeg has perfect strangers asking for money on street corners. I just had a “Christian” I barely know panhandle me via Facebook Messenger. It isn’t the first time either.

I feel a sarcastic remark coming like, “Oh yeah, I could use a little free cash too if you have nothing better to do with your hard earned money and want to give it away for free inbox me and I’ll take Visa, Debit, PayPal, or I’ll come pick it up (if it’s no more than the cost of my Shaw internet subscription).”

Yes, this literally is what one pan-handler uses to get money in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

If you are in a similar situation, you may need to unfriend a few people that call themselves Christians if they’re always asking for money. Go ahead and block them if they’re trying to guilt you into it as well. People get the notion that Christians are do-gooders so they want to make them feel good and keep taking and taking and taking. It baffles me how entitlement takes on a whole new meaning in the city of Winnipeg sometimes. Some fake Christians need to learn some respect. Where did people learn that giving out money freely just because it’s what good people do was supposedly Christianity? Where do some Christians get the idea that God will have people provide money for them if all they do is ask for it but don’t do any work or marketting or other kinds of services in return? It is shocking to me. True Christians will work if they need money to bless other people. Even Apostle Paul made tents to pay for his evangelism right out of pocket.

I want to help people. I have been helped financially for quite some time while I job hunt hard and my wife is gracious and patient with me when I’m unemployed which I’m very grateful for. Note that with difficulties, there are acceptable measures that are appropriate for securing financial help. Soliciting people on the street let alone on Facebook should not be a method of doing that, autistic, Christian, Buddhist, or aethiest. Some forms of solicitation offer doors to mentalities which are a trap for those who are gullible or get really angry due to their own entitlement.

There’s a difference between trusting God to let him provide coin and hustling hard to keep yourself financially afloat. A mature person will know the difference between balancing the two especially when tempted to beg one on one through a messaging service.

So if you’re giving money to random people asking for it on Facebook Messenger, God bless you. But sorry though, you’re not helping people become financially independent the right way. And if you hustle properly, do it for God and to provide for yourself and family close to you. Nobody has or can save everyone, financially, through the internet, or through street evangelism. That’s Jesus’ job. This may sound harsh, but that’s just how it is. Do the work, don’t ask for money via Facebook Messenger, and the money will come.

What Brooks Gibbs Gets Wrong About Free Speech

I came across a disturbing video defending free speech. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.Brooks Gibbs is a motivational speaker and a self-proclaimed passionate student of “peace.” His special interests include emotional toughness and, ironically, the Golden Rule. His videos are used by schools worldwide and he’s been hired to speak at more than 1,500 school assemblies. He gets really serious about emotional toughness here and it’s important to acknowledge that while it’s a given to be strong, it’s not good to keep emotions inside for too long. There may be good intentions behind what Gibbs is saying, but there is so much logic that is flawed that it has to be debunked. Here’s what I’ve figured out:

1. Words actually hurt.

If words didn’t hurt, rap wouldn’t have made so much money in the 80s and 90s. Poetry would be meaningless. Mental illness wouldn’t be at its critical height as an issue. Psychologists and counselors would never make money if words didn’t hurt. Words do in fact hurt. How others see the pain in words being hurtful is irrelevant. The Bible says the tongue can bring life or death (Proverbs 18:21). We’re human. That means we’re imperfect, vulnerable, and broken. I try my best not to be sensitive, but that doesn’t mean I get to generalize my experience and demean what other people feel. When someone says “you hurt me” or “that hurts” nobody can render the feelings subjective by saying “no it doesn’t.” If what Gibbs’ saying is not to let that hurt fester into deeper wounds, then that should be made clear, because I agree with that. A hurtful statement should never stop anyone from living life to the fullest. Learn to spell it out better for students.

2. People want to be respected.

Nobody is saying that everyone has to be nice. People just want to be able to go about their business and be treated with respect. Respect is not a huge thing to ask of people. A statement saying “When you believe that you have a human right that everyone must be nice to you, you’re setting yourself up for failure.” is a statement defending idiots. People have the freedom to say what they want. In fact, I hate censorship. The first amendment exists so everyone has a free voice. But the question is whether the first amendment covers hate speech or not.That being said, as individuals, we are not required to tolerate hatred in any form.

3. Free speech works two ways.

If someone is going to defend a person’s right to verbally abuse someone (which is really unsettling about this clip) then it’s a bad idea to condemn a person or group of people’s right to be offended.

4. It’s important to know the difference between hate speech and real free speech.

Nobody is actually calling to cut a well-known version of free speech down. Real free speech includes the freedom of choice to express social communication or connection or a concern about something. Hate speech is a form of speech with the intent on destroying a person’s ego, bullying a group of people, chipping away at a person or group’s reputation, or to put it plainly, being a dick. People are encouraging each other to stop supporting hate speech. And how do they condemn hate speech? With free speech.

5. No one has the right to be disrespected.

Just because Canada or the US or most European countries are free, does not mean people have the right to be disrespectful. That is flawed logic. A free country means we have the right not to put up with disrespect. We may not be able to stop people from being emotionally destructive or abusive, but that doesn’t mean no one shouldn’t try.

6. Tolerance always has issues.

Rewarding disrespectful behavior with a positive response in no way guarantees that it will stop, especially if we never take a stand about how we don’t like it. That is a huge problem with tolerance. Choosing to tolerate hateful speech will get a lot of people into serious trouble. We can’t just expect people to react by saying things like “Oh, well you’re a fool but I won’t do anything about it because that’s your right.”

Change happens when people stand up and do whatever they can to promote an environment that’s emotionally healthy (not a safe space but a tactful environment). Change happens when respect is a core foundation that holds community together. And finally, there’s no completely free speech that benefits every single person. The free speech we think of comes with a price. Speech in any community has its constructive criticism, its disagreements, its encouragement, its discipline, and its love. Once hate and discrimination is mixed in with that speech, the freedom disappears. And that disappearance is why words can be hurtful.

Open Doors, How Charity Operates, and Social Media Outrage

Note: I wrote this before drinking coffee. If some of the sentences don’t make sense, I apologize. I mean every word I said though.

So the meme is finally challenged after Hurricane Harvey. Years ago, someone created a familiar meme referencing Lakewood, one of the biggest churches in the United States, headed by a rich pastor named Joel Osteen. Due to it’s huge size, the meme creator challenges Christians to build communities that fight social injustice and help the poor, down-and-out, and the needy. With churches these large in North America, they can house at least two to five thousand people. So, where is this referenced Lakewood church located you ask? That’s right! It’s in Houston Texas! The epicentre of the hurricane that is not only flooding Texas, but social media commentary as well.

I personally had to endure Mr Osteen’s preaching while taking Master’s Commission years ago. I looked at this three-piece suit pastor with a huge Bible held high in his hand and believed that one day I would become a successful speaker like he was.

Then after flashing that shiny “Benedict Cumberbatch-ish” signature smile, he started speaking.

He talked about faith the size of a mustard seed and how with that small amount of faith, I can overcome obstacles in my daily life while making a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, what Osteen failed to mention in that sermon was that Jesus was using sarcasm with his disciples because they wanted to smite non-believers with superpowers from heaven (I had to figure that one out myself by researching Jewish culture and the depth of Jesus’ character using a huge multitude of mixed sources). Perhaps one has to pay to hear that part of the message. Or maybe Osteen says something like that in his book “Your Best Life Now” (I doubt it though).

Before I digress too much, I don’t want to be judgy of the way Lakewood handled turning its church into a homeless shelter, but I already did judge him. It’s difficult not to judge a televangelist when all I’ve experienced since leaving Masters was years of pain, suffering, deeper spiritual discovery, and growing up in faith and experience. Those experiences and a deeper intimacy with God have brought a new mindset where I have to take life on day by day without denying that the struggle is real. Mr. Osteen’s messages aren’t very deep or challenging at all, they paint life with spiritual sunshine lollipops and rainbows, and give Christians the sense they’re easily entitled to blessing, healing, prosperity, and emotional well-being. Compared to a lot of the other lessons God has taught me since 2012, these mindsets are actually much more destructive than helpful. And it attracts a lot of people who go to his church. Most individuals attending for the first time aren’t satisfied with what they have, and after going through their own pain while trying to live up to Osteen’s teaching will not be satisfied with what they want if they do get it. One of the biggest things God has taught me was that having “my best life now” is secondary to being loyal, obedient, and faithful to Jesus Christ and responsive to the Holy Spirit while struggling hard with Aspergers and autism. Yup, I digressed too much.

I originally wanted to talk about how charitable organizations work. Note that I’m speaking from experience as a call-centre worker taking credit card donations for The Salvation Army Canada over the phone.  I was constantly bombarded with calls rebuking The Salvation Army for not accepting any other donations except money. It’s important to understand that when a  disaster hits, travel and shipment of goods or supplies for survival become unpredictable.  Trucks and cars will hit trees or pieces of buildings that block various critical roadways to certain destinations resulting in slower traffic and shipments. Flying supplies in bulk have to go through various screening and vetting to prevent terrorism on top of keeping goods safe for flood or hurricane victims. Every charitable donation accepts money first because money is easily transferable via digital bank accounts, Paypal, or money orders. When that money is transferred in a matter of seconds, intact places close to a disaster with abundant supply of what people need can accept the money quickly and as a result, ship the paid supplies to the injured and starving parties of a disaster in a matter of hours. When donors of food, clothes, or even medicine hear that from me while I’m on the phone with them taking their credit card info, they get extremely upset, hang up, and sometimes are even more harsh than all the social media posts tweeted out by Tump-supporters and “Liberal babies.” This is why Lakewood updated their webpage first with a form to donate towards relief for Hurricane Harvey first before officially announcing doors were open.

Another issue is crowd control. If Lakewood opened up their doors, a huge crowd of people barging into the church like it was Black Friday would result in injury. As a result, a meeting had to be held to decide how to properly handle the large crowds of people that are coming in who are starving, injured, or possibly dying. Volunteers had to be delegated tasks. To make sure everyone’s doing their job, management strategies had to be employed. I wish the process would be sped up, but organization has to be firm and well in place to ensure no lives are lost. I’m sure Jesus and his disciples had a system in place when giving out five loaves and two fishes, but unfortunately, even Jesus himself couldn’t help everyone physically while He was on Earth even with all the miracles He performed. Neither could Lakewood even with its doors wide open. Not everyone makes it. I don’t agree with how God runs the show like this either, but that’s life.

However, I can understand the rage behind social media when it comes to the way Lakewood runs. My issue with Lakewood’s handling of the issue is with communication. They mentioned their acceptance of various non-monetary donations on Twitter before officially tweeting less than 24 hours ago they were receiving people who need shelter along with coordinating with the city of Houston. If I was running from a natural disaster, the first thing I’d be thinking about is hiding safely under a roof that will keep me from getting hit from debris (or in other cases hail) flying in the wind.  Food would be second. Clothing would be the last thing on my mind when trying to find a place of security from weather.

In social media, timing is everything. Posting at the right time helps to avoid controversy. The rage from social media was rising even quicker than the floodwaters. As confirmed by a Fox News broadcast, Lakewood didn’t see it coming, but as a Christian, one of the first things that popped up in my mind as Harvey unleashed hell was what Joel Osteen was doing for his congregation and if his church doors were open. I even tweeted my discontent at the lack of news sources (tweets now deleted). Lakewood should have been aware of the backlash they would have faced since they may have gotten a lot of criticism for “Your Best Life Now” and some of Mr Osteen’s sermons for Christians that left some of his congregation starving for a deeper relationship with God and not just something to feel good.

I’m not saying all this in criticism of Lakewood Church. Many companies with the ability to support others just aren’t that quick on the draw when it comes to their connection with people, both online and offline. This is the case with organizations like Catholic Relief Services, The Humane Society of the United States, and The Red Cross. When it comes to spreading news of humanitarian causes, this needs to change. The bar is much higher than a lot of companies think. Social media isn’t a playground and it shouldn’t be the troll-infested battlefield it is today.

There are sheep and there are shepherds. Being prepared to face the farm animals who communicate hate, controversy, accountability, and a need for honour requires armor, preparation, strategy, a really long stick, and tactful response. I’m not just talking about Hurricane Harvey or the exhausting threads of outrage culture. I’m talking about life itself. If Joel Osteen’s Sunday sermons can teach us how to fight in a hard struggle with God by our side and how to properly respond to life’s obstacles instead of how easy it is to obtain blessings that we want right now, many more Christians will be able to take on the Hurricane Harveys in their own lives. Maybe this natural disaster and social media backlash will help Mr Osteen write about how content we should be with what we have so we’re satisfied with what we want. I pray this happens, but I’m not confident that it will.

I Struggle with Aspergers Am I #Blessed or What?

A lot of times we use the word blessed lightly. Whenever an event happens to us that makes us happy, or we work hard and reward ourselves with something rare money can buy, our tendency is to post or tweet it out and drop the hashtag #blessed

Examples:

  • I just bought a car. #Blessed (I wish this was true)
  • Great date night with my BF! #Blessed
  • My new shirt from E-Bay just arrived in the mail on time. #Blessed
    Too #blessed to be stressed! (I’ve even used this one during busy work periods)

I struggle with Aspergers. I have many reasons not to use the hashtag #blessed. It is a daily struggle to support myself let alone me and my wife. Our grocery lists each week aren’t very long because of monetary lack. I have a hard time focusing on tasks which requires intense focus so I’m freelancing and out of work a lot lately. I have things that set me off on angry swearing tirades when I’m alone. I go for six months to a year of song-writer’s block. I need two days to recover after a social gathering. My wife is always tired when I sometimes need her to support me the most. Some of my immediate family struggles with their own mental health and I’m always nervous around them. Both our noisy neighbors constantly change because they rent the houses beside us and as a result our sleeping patterns are screwed up. We get the idea.

I’m not against the idea of using the #blessed hashtag. I just think our culture needs to use the word “blessed” in a different context. If we look at the world around us, there are more people that aren’t blessed compared to the ones who have the most comments or likes on their social media feeds after posting a picture of themselves with rum-punch on a Jamaican beach. Everyone suffers. Everyone has problems. What if we used the hashtag #blessed to show the existence of a spiritual strength? What if we used the word blessed to inspire others not to give up or give in? What if being blessed shows us that problems in the world can be overcome regardless of how big or small those problems are? What if blessing in struggle can show countries torn by war that there’s good in this world worth fighting for? If someone replies with the comment that they have hope despite what’s going on, that deserves the hashtag #blessed and a butt-load of retweets or Instagram reposts.

The word blessed reminds me of the beatitudes of Christ in Matthew 5 when he says:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re literally expressing happiness while your reputation, wealth, and health are in bad shape or hanging by a thread, I will refer you to a psychiatrist. I’ll definitely ensure one close to me gets help if their suffering is a result of their own stupidity as well. If I had a choice, I would choose to  have the negative autistic quirks I endure destroyed by God. I would take that “blessing” over walking through life with meltdowns and sensory overload until I take my last breath on Earth. We’ve all heard these questions from somewhere; what do we do with our problems we struggle with? How can we learn from what happens to us when the world doesn’t work in our favour? How do we accept what is broken and live with what can’t be fixed?

Since I struggle with Aspergers, I’m for sure no exception to the participation of this obstacle course called suffering just because I’m a Christian. I need a reminder every time I have a meltdown that I’m blessed. I need a reminder I’m blessed even though I listen to someone who claims I’m indifferent for not looking at them in the eye. I need to know I’m blessed when a certain smell makes me want to puke. Someone needed to tell me in an old call centre job that I’m blessed even when I want to strangle the supervisor that makes me switch duties while I’m doing a repetitive task that makes me feel so content. I need to know that it’s a blessing to take a mental break or day off when stressed hard workers claim that excuses are for losers. My suffering might be different, but I need to know that the promises from suffering in the beatitudes (most which have come from Aspergers) will be fulfilled once I met the Lord face-to-face.

Thankfully, I’ve learned that even in the hardest and darkest times where the struggle with Aspergers is so real, I’m blessed because it doesn’t last forever, thanks to God’s intervention and people who love me enough to help me through hell on Earth. I believe blessing itself is the result of a fulfilled promise from Jesus Christ. Through His son, God has made many promises for His people. Regardless of suffering or things going according to our own plans, we are blessed if we believe, learn from, and abide in relationship with the true vine that is Christ himself (beginning of John 15). There are many examples of #blessed promises where we can use the hashtag in context and humility.

  • I am free from condemnation (Romans 8) #blessed
  • I can approach God with boldness and confidence (Ephesians 3:12) #blessed
  • Regardless of my past, I can be forgiven and redeemed of all my mistakes allowing me to start over (Colossians 1:13 – 14) #blessed

Perhaps having Aspergers is a reminder of my need to depend on God to feel significant, accepted, and secure. Maybe having this neurological difference is a reminder that God made me a gifted artist and that the pictures I paint, whether it’s through this blog or my music, have to show the world who He is to fulfill His promises. And if He doesn’t allow me to excel or His promises aren’t working in my favour, I’m still alive and His grace is sufficient for me. To me, just to live and have an opportunity to show autism as a gift is a blessing itself.

My name is Aaron Parsons. I struggle with Aspergers. Am I #blessed or what?

Socials and Meltdowns: Autism and Socializing

A sort-of meltdown at a social I attended a few months ago confirmed that my struggles on the autism/Aspergers spectrum really suck on a physical level (also, welcome to the early 30s Mr. Parsons). By the way, a social in Manitoba Canada is a provincial slang term for a huge kickin’ party to fund-raise for a wedding! Whenever I feel nauseated, the feeling becomes overwhelming and I go into an internal panic attack where I feel dizzy, loose focus, and have an urgent need to walk around or lie down.
My wife and I made the mistake of visiting McDonald’s after helping set up for the social. Right after dinner, I was burping a lot even after taking two Tums and this lump in my throat just wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t talk. I tried drinking multiple glasses of water. I still couldn’t say a word. I couldn’t cry out for help or call 911. The feeling of nausea amplified dramatically from the smell of the venue bathroom after voiding my bladder so I can take in tickets for the draw without being excused. For some of you reading who were at the social that night, I think it did have something to do with individuals I didn’t like who have attended even though I admit that it wasn’t. But really, I’m not exactly sure. All I remember was that I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom after said persons dropped in and I was having noisy fits of diarrhea. After the diarrhea finished, I had to lay down somewhere, there was no bed outside so I ran to the back of the venue where there was a field (this was in the country), and lied down on my back out there trying to relax and pace my breathing while praying to God for help when I could start talking again. I then texted my wife and she drove me home. She was asking me a whole bunch of questions and I told her to leave me alone as nicely as I could. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I’m just nervous being around party atmospheres this people who would potentially make me uncomfortable when they’re drunk. I once was used to that. I guess the party life just isn’t for me anymore.

Ever since I fully decided to accept my 2002 diagnosis of AS in 2015, I’m finding I’m having to sacrifice a lot of things I used to love in my twenties. I’ve sacrificed my love for a hyper-party lifestyle, hip-hop concerts, and unhealthy foods, cut down on coffee, video game marathons, and a constant need to socialize just to feel like I fit in and have a purpose. In a way it was worth it to take the mask off instead of acting like I was all that. It did come with a price though. I’m just about done my term with data entry. With students going to school, it will be much harder to find work outside of online freelancing. Thankfully, the events of the past week help to reconstruct my Christian faith from the ground up without mixing it up with the Americanized “name-it-claim-it” crap-tacular prosperity gospel.

Unless, I’m doing a musical performance or shopping, I’ve been trying to stay away from huge crowds as much as possible. It may just be a fear of man that just seems to be growing the more I browse all the angry crap on social media or see all the news. And yet I’m in Canada, a relatively safe country. Maybe I still have parts of my past I need to work through. Some people think I’m shy, but in reality, I don’t really have anything to say in times I really want to talk. It’s like my wit is a loading bar, and it constantly gets stuck or moves slower than other people’s wits. Or maybe I just feel like I’m a boring person unless I have my DJ equipment with me. The thing is, I love people and I do want to socialize, but once I’m done socializing or enduring a huge crowd of people, my internal battery is at 10% and it takes at least two days to recharge (going to work only makes re-charging longer. It can take up to 4 days). If I socialize too much outside of family, or become overwhelmed from huge crowds on a daily basis, I start to become paranoid, and may even call in sick the next time I have to go to work. Eventually, at one point I had to yell at my entire group of friends at one point to get away from me. They thought I hated them. It even took some time and a few Facebook posts to explain that I needed to some time alone because I was constantly socializing with so many people for a few days at once. And now that these effects started amplifying in my early 30s, I just hope this blog post will be a good resource for others like me who get drained from socializing to know that they’re not alone.

After these kinds of meltdowns occur, Bible reading and meditation always calm me down after a few hours and then I can assimilate myself back into life again. I’m at peace with who I am as a struggling Christian and as a man who continues to kick the bad quirks of autism in the ass daily. I may not be social for long periods of time, eat certain foods or handle certain smells or noises anymore. I will weep from time to time. I will need more sleep. I’m also considering taking the money I made and starting a business. With said business, I’m going to help people as much as I can with a mental health website featuring products from Amazon. With a separate blog, I’m willing to connect and give my two cents with those who struggle with autism, religion, mental abuse, and even some spiritual abuse that is tied to mental abuse. After October, I may not do as many live performances as a musician, but I will use my music to connect with others and share my story.

This is who I am.

Making Peace: Autism and Acceptance

I attended a geek/fandom-based bible study last year. It’s a small group full of Christians who are into geeky things. It’s pretty cool actually. We were talking about Pokemon, Jonah Chapter 4, and making peace that evening. I’m not a Pokemon fan but I have tried one of the early RPGs on a Gameboy and can see why it would be so much fun to get into. I thought of something when it came to making peace and acceptance of autism that evening but it came to me while walking home from the bible study rather than earlier in community.

While I brag hard about accepting autism as a part of my identity, the hardest thing for someone like me to make peace with is accepting the daily struggle. I deal with quirks that are incurable and there are times when I’d rather live as if Aspergers doesn’t exist. Last year, I have made peace with the fact that God doesn’t have to answer to me, although he answers my prayers HE feels should be answered. I made peace with the fact that God will somehow use Aspergers through me for His glory, even though part of me for a fact knows that this seems rationally ridiculous.

Religion tries to make Aspergers an obstacle or a “demon” to be dealt with. Certain sects of Christianity claim that autism and Aspergers is just a lie and something I can easily get over. These are wrong on so many scientific, psychological, and even spiritual outlooks. Real spirituality accepts what can’t be humanly changed, but relies on the wisdom of a deity to work with the gifts and the weaknesses Aspergers brings to the forefront (but not be a fruitcake like hyper-pentecostals and what not).

Some days Aspergers is a curse. In times when I socialize, I feel stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes when I work, I want to break down and cry like a baby. Many other days Aspergers is a gift. In times when I create these blog posts, in times when I write and perform or spin music, in times when I pray and meditate, I feel like I shine, even when no one is watching.

I’m not sure how I can end this post. I’ve been praying the serenity prayer lately because sometimes I’m not even sure what to pray to ensure God’s will happens for some of my situations and not my own. So I’ll end with this; if you struggle with autism or Aspergers and am not sure what to pray, here’s the serenity prayer that you can use:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen. – – Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Will My Autistic Friend/Child Be Saved? Autism and Romans 10:9

Disclaimer: The words in the post may or may not be edited as I’m still trying to figure things out with the Lord’s help. I understand it’s a very sensitive subject and will be eventually consulting with Christians who minister with mental abuse or work in autistic ministries to help me polish this post.

Not sure how to give an intro into this post. However, I found a testimony about a heart-breaking story regarding a parent who wants her son to receive a powerful spiritual encounter with Jesus. This may be a good place to start. Here’s her story.

My son has been diagnosed with autism but we know it has a spiritual component. I have been praying for him and we know that whether it is part of the autism or not, there is an irrational spiritual fear. I read to him the Bible and try to work with him and so do his teachers, but they think he has autism. We aren’t fighting that (the autism), but we are certain some of his problems are spiritual and due to abuse from outside family members and “friends,” especially the fears and certain odd behaviors. Please pray for him that he receives and becomes a servant of Jesus Christ, because I am convinced that will help him. He has some limited understanding of the Gospel and God has revealed to me that the fear expression (both facial and verbal) that precedes some of his behavior is spiritual and would be helped if he places his trust in Jesus.

I’ll cover the behaviors of autism and spiritual abuse in a later post. I’m not an expert at that subject, but I do want to share my own story of spiritual abuse (also in a later post). While I do believe some behaviors are caused by spiritual abuse and damage from social PTSD, I believe in a God who can remove fear of man and limited understanding of the Gospel. Since behaviors are conditions and habits that are linked to free will, I feel that Christ can only walk alongside a person struggling with autism while giving them the strength to choose reconditioning of their quirks or behaviors that aren’t central to autism.

While I really don’t like saying some of this part, let me apologetically recap with a bit of Christianity 101 and why all humans need Jesus:

Romans 5:12 says “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men.” This scripture is one of a lot (including Ephesians 2:3 and Psalm 51:5) that indicates that every person regardless of race, status, or track record is born into sin. With the exception of Jesus, every single human is sinful from conception in the womb. Roman’s 3:10 says this clearly “There is no one righteous, not even one.” When Adam ate the fruit, he infected the human race. We all are born from Adam and therefore inherit his original sin. This means that autistic individuals and those with Aspergers are sinful. Their nature is evident everyday, as humanity, even myself, is rebellious and care most about themselves and fulfilling their own needs. It’s pretty obvious when you look around you and it’s getting worse by the second.

The Bible also says that as sinful people, we only have one way into heaven. That way is through faith in Jesus Christ, the son of God. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We are commanded to give up our own desires and sinful nature and put our faith and live our lives only for Jesus. Acts 17:30 reads, “he commands all people everywhere to repent.” Moreover, we are commanded to be obedient to Him. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 indicates that “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” If we do not set our hearts to go after Jesus Christ, damnation awaits us. As much as I don’t like to say it, this is the reason why I’m writing this post. I don’t want autistic individuals to suffer the damnation I just described.

Now, let’s focus on the question. Can an autistic person or an Aspie be saved by Jesus Christ and his amazing grace? Let me come right out and say it, yes they can. Can an Aspie encounter Jesus? I’m living proof that that has happened.

What puzzles me is the way fellow Christians judge those with autism by measuring their faith by fruits that they can’t bear due to their condition. Obviously, those fellow Christians need to take a good look at themselves before determining if someone with autism is saved or not.

Romans 10:9 says that if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. But if an autistic person is non-verbal but believes in his heart, what happens when he dies? I don’t want to answer that question directly. It has the potential to open a can of worms that should stay closed.

I’ve been reading through 1 Samuel 13 – 16. Isreal’s King Saul had been given a mission to wipe the Amalekites clean off the map. While the mission was to completely destroy everything, Saul kept the best sheep and cattle. The prophet Samuel knew that Saul’s heart was central to the plunder from the countries Isreal was at war with. Samuel did not break this to Saul gently. Even though Saul knew what was wrong, he lost his annointing as king which was carried over to David, the son of Jesse. Saul was considered the Fabio of Isreal in the Old Testament while David and the line of Jesse were considered nothing worth much more than street urchins.  Eventually even with visual lack of strength, David showed his devotion to God by taking down the giant Goliath. David made mistakes constantly, but God knew that his heart belonged the Father.

So let’s say an autistic person always loves reading the Bible but can’t speak or type words into a computer. Let’s also say that he does nothing else besides take it all in. A Christian from a huge mega-church could go out and say that this autistic person can’t build God’s kingdom because only by speaking the Gospel or writing out their own testimony will they be able to bring others into His Kingdom.

But what if a hypothetical law has been brought into North America, and all churches had to be burned down with Christians in them? What if Christians had to be lined up to be slaughtered before an alter?

Let’s say this actually did happen and one of the church attendees was a boy with autism who had been reading the Bible and hardly doing anything else with his time besides eating and sleeping. The general who would give the order for the firing squad to kill off the Christians yells for them to get ready and aim. All the Christians cringe ready for the bullets, full of fear of dying because they didn’t win souls in a war on evangelical culture.
But wait..the autistic boy pulls out his Bible, steps out from the crowd. He looks up to heaven, and even though he’s none-verbal, screams in happiness toward the roof raising his Bible high and proud while the firing squad wets the boy up with huge slugs of metal.

After the firing squad comes to grips with the epiphany of a life they had taken, some of them walk out of the church with tears running down their faces. Some of them may even be talking to God himself and deciding to repent and explore what just happened. The general only becomes more angry and sadly guns down all the other Christians with a shotgun. The story contains no happy ending at all.

I’m sorry for creating an R-rated picture to illustrate my point that man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). You as the reader are probably still puzzled because I didn’t directly answer the question. Maybe that child didn’t directly win people to God. Or did he? Did the child who was shot by the firing squad go to heaven? Not sure, but I am pretty sure that his cry to God came from his heart though. There are deeper ways to take this discussion but I should wrap it up shortly here.

Even with the fact that I have problems memorizing different things in the Bible due to my own struggle with Aspergers, I still encounter God and still hear him even if I don’t know Him fully yet. Spirituality is a journey. Spirituality is a relationship with God, not a religion. It’s not about knowing all the answers or conforming to something while knowing all the answers. It’s simply a life-long chase and quest for encounters with a God who wants to connect with people who live by faith.

What can we learn from this? There’s so much grey and not a lot of black and white. To me, that’s perfectly okay.

The question we need to ask isn’t if a child or friend with autism is saved. The question we need to ask is what’s in the heart of an autistic person or an Aspie when they read the Bible, participate in church, or interact with other people?