All our young grandchildren are a delight, but there is one who is special. She has been diagnosed as being just within the ‘autism spectrum!’ That is the ‘label’ she has been given, as if to explain away her uniqueness. We refuse to accept such a label. She is who she is. For the first two or three years of her life her hearing was impaired. This disadvantage has been corrected and with encouragement and some heartache she is finding her own way through.
She is gifted and talented and we are proud of her. She has a vivid imagination and lives life to the full, can be very sensitive and often takes the lead in group play. But just now and again she will ask a question or do or say something a bit quirky, outside what would normally be accepted as the social norm for the given situation. But who are we to dampen the tremendous spirit she has, there could be a potential genius in the making. In reality, it’s often the sort of thing she does, that many ‘normal’ adults may wish they could do or say, but keep quiet in case they may offend – or feel shamed?
This makes me wonder, what is normal, who is normal?
In many group situations whether, business, office, club and especially in some church and Christian fellowships, there is an expected way of behaviour and way of doing things. But sometimes this expectation to conform can be confining and stunt progress. Daring to be different may rock the boat and there will be pressure – real or perceived – to conform. I once overheard a conversation regarding a club member, “she’s not really one of us!” I don’t know, but perhaps ‘she’ was just a bit different and some were finding that ‘difference’ embarassing or maybe it revealed their own longing or inner pain.
Most of us in some way or another are ‘dysfunctional, and haven’t yet realised the full potential we have in Christ. We are instructed in the Bible to lay down our lives, for the sake of the wider ‘community’, but before we can lay down our lives we need to ‘get a life.’ It’s Father who shows us who we really are, if we ask, and as we are all work in progress, we need to accept the differences in our midst.
So I urge us to do two things:
Go all out to follow the individual path God has for us and discover what we are made for even if this means living with other’s misunderstanding.
accept and embrace the differences in those around us.
“For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. — As it is, however, God put every different part in the body just as he wanted it to be. There would not be a body if it were all only one part! As it is, there are many parts but one body. So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Nor can the head say to the feet, “Well, I don’t need you!” 1Co 12:14-21 New International Version