Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not despite. Because.

You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. (Leviticus 20:26)

Tonight at church, the pastor was preaching on Hab...Haba...(help me, Google)... Habakkuk (thanks, buddy). We're doing a series on it, and tonight he began to describe the judgment that God was going to pass on Israel via the even more evil Babylonians. I was doing my best to follow along, when something he said caught my attention.

"Israel, you were supposed to be different, holy, set apart."

And that made me think. Usually, when I think of myself and my differences, my "otherness," I think of it as a bad thing or something that needs to be changed. Rocking in church? Better stop it. Stimming at the lights at the Broadway showing of Hairspray? Quit that. Greeting new people with "Hi, do you like cats?" Not exactly socially appropriate.

But autism isn't the only way that I'm different. If "normal" for my age is going to bars, smoking, and having sex, (that's the stuff the girls my age at work go on about), then I'm glad I'm not normal. I don't drink, or swear, or date, or wear revealing clothing because God has called me to be set apart from my peer group. I'm not saying that it's wrong for everyone to drink and date and whatnot, but I don't know what God says to other people- I can only speak for myself, and what He has called me to do and be.

Rather than thinking of my autism in the negative, maybe it's time to consider the ways it contributes to my holiness, which, after all, is what I strive to be (not saying Isucceed, though). Because I'm kind of stuck in childhood, I'm not tempted to watch sex or swearing or violence on TV or read it in books or see R-rated movies. I'm not tempted to be sexually inappropriate. And getting drunk and doing drugs is so far off my radar, I've never even been in a bar or seen a drug, let alone wanted to try them.

While most people in their 20s have outgrown their childhood innocence, I'm pretty sure most of mine remains intact. I'm certainly more sensitive to the injustice and inhumanity of the world than a lot of people I know (for example, I often cry when I see animals dead on the road, even if it's a skunk).

And if God is calling Christians to be set apart, other... holy... then maybe rocking, stimming, and questions of genuine interest (rather than the obligatory "how are yous") aren't so bad either, eh?

Maybe God created me to be this way. (Different. Other. Autistic.) Maybe He did it as a way of mirroring His own holiness in one of His creations. Or maybe He knew that, without the autism, I wouldn't be able to stand up to the temptation that surrounds me.

What I'm saying is what Leigh has said so many times, but now I'm coming to understand for myself, now that I have some explanation behind it. I've always thought of autism as being something that is all bad, but that God can use for good. But now I'm starting to see that maybe He actually made it for good to begin with. Good not despite of autism, but because of it.

Are you catching that theme on my blog over the last year?

I want to succeed in my work not despite of my autism but because of it.

I want my family and friends not love me not despite of my autism but because of it.

I want to be set apart not despite of my autism but because of it.

And most importantly to me, I want to be Godly not despite of my autism, but because of it.

I think I'm starting to understand...


  1. I read your blog all the time but, don't often comment. I think your definitely on to something. I'm discovering these things too and I believe that we are aware of things that most people aren't but, we are all created in God's imagewe reflect who he is even if the majority of the population don't recognize it. I don't see why you can't rock at church if you need to. If that what you need to do to participate, then you should be able to do it. It's not hurting anyone. Will others notice? Probably. Might it be distracting to someone? Probably. But you know what? That's there issue to confront in themselves and work around. The church should be the place we can 100% authentically be who we are.

  2. Just DELIGHTED to read this by you! Coming to accept ones self wholly and entirely is a great step forward for anyone, autistic or not, Christian or not, and when you can tie that in to where your place is in the world that's even closer to finding true peace and freedom.

  3. Lydia, Someone linked to your post on my blog, and I'm so glad I've been "introduced" to you! My daughter has Down syndrome, and I have also thought about the ways in which she has made our family "set apart." God does indeed set us apart, and that is for holiness, but it is also that we are set apart to be a blessing to others. Your words are a blessing to me, so thank you for being set apart in that way too.

    I'd love to reprint this piece, or if you're interested in writing another one like it, on my blog. Take a look, if you have time, and let me know what you think. Your honest writing is beautiful and refreshing. Here's a link to today's post: and you might also want to check out the "Perfectly Human" column that runs weekly. You can also email me directly at amyjuliabecker [at] gmail [dot] com.

  4. I have theorized that some Autistic individuals may actually be very much "functional" in the spiritual realm, while not seeming functional in the physical realm. Consider the writings of these non-verbal men with autism that were raised in Orthodox Jewish homes:

    Perhaps all of histories prophets (including the shamans of other cultures) may have actually been on the autism spectrum. It is worth meditating on.

  5. I love your post! This is how I see my son who has autism. He brings so much good to us. He's all good!

  6. This is the first time I have read your blog and this article is AMAZING! I am so blessed to have read your inspiration! I am a special needs teacher and also Orthodox Jewish so this speaks to me in a way that is so special!

    Thank you for being a voice for people that may not yet have one!

  7. Lydia, This is something I have also wondered about. Where I used to be so interested in hiding who I was...and the behaviors that accompanied that persona I have been now learning to be who God has created me to be. Things I had long since considered weaknesses I now see as strengths. Thanks so much for sharing yourself in this way. I look forward to reading more in the future.

    Mike Williams