Today at church we talked about pride. At one point in the lesson I felt the need to comment with my struggles to enjoy church. Earlier in the lesson, we had talked about how pride is enmity between us and God or us and other people.
I shared that when I first started attending my current congregation, I felt enmity towards them. It wasn’t that they were bad people or that they weren’t Christ-like. In fact, the reason I kept going back was because of the Christ-like atmosphere and the things I was learning about Him. I just have a harder time making friends because of autism and anxiety, etc.
The thing is that instead of being humble about my struggles, I blamed it on the people at church and people in Utah in general. I blamed it on their lack of knowledge of people outside themselves. I blamed it on their small town, country nature that couldn’t connect with a city girl from California. After all, I’m the one with autism. Shouldn’t people almost be required to talk to me first? Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do- reach out to the weak and weary and all that?
It made sense to me. How could people possibly expect an autistic girl in a new place to make friends herself? Eventually though I realized that the problem really was me. I wanted friends, but my behavior was inconsistent with that desire. I mean, why would anyone want to be friends with someone that hates them? Not that I made it obvious that I felt that way. I was just very unhappy and didn’t see it getting any better.
I don’t know exactly when it changed. I don’t know when I decided that the people at church were a lot nicer than I gave them credit for and that I was really the one at fault. It may have been a story about how a wedge left in a tree had eventually caused it to split in half. I knew I had put a wedge between me and the people at church, and I didn’t want that wedge to eventually break me apart.
So I decided to change. I decided to try to see the good in people and let go of all the negative feelings I had about not being able to fit in and find my place. I decided that if I wanted a place in church I couldn’t wait around complaining. I had to make that place for myself.
I can’t say that I have done this perfectly or that I never feel indignant when I can’t seem to find someone to talk to, but I can say that it has gotten better. I have gotten better. I still feel lonely at times and lost and alone. But I know that it’s me. It’s me that needs to change and break apart the wedges I have because no one else can do it for me.