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...