Breaking Apart Wedges

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.

Justice Doesn’t Make You Happy

This post goes with the last post I published. So even though I’d usually post this on my religious blog, I decided to post it on here as a follow up.

I believe in justice. In fact, I have an unhealthy belief in justice. I used to participate in what I called “karma driving,” which basically means I would treat other drivers the way they treated people. So if I saw someone tailing other people or cut someone off, I’d go out of my way to be a jerk to that person. I justified my behavior because “they deserved it.”

I’m not sure when I decided to stop, but I basically just realized that it wasn’t making me happy. I mean, I felt some satisfaction that the person “got what they deserved” but knew it didn’t really change anything. Me being a jerk wasn’t going to change how someone else drives. Yeah, they might be a little more careful for the next few minutes, but jerks will still be jerks no matter how many times it backfires.

I still secretly hope that the car speeding past everyone and cutting off cars will end up stuck behind a semi truck, but I no longer feel compelled to make them suffer.

See, I have finally realized that justice doesn’t make you happy. Getting what we deserve doesn’t make us happy, and giving people what they deserve doesn’t make us happy either. Mercy on the other hand, does make us happy. I think that’s God’s favorite part of being God. Extending mercy is so fun. It makes you feel joy. Christ taught that the person who is forgiven more loves more. Forgiveness breeds love. Justice breeds hate. That’s why forgiving is so powerful. Mercy and forgiveness are gateways to love and love leads to joy. I’m so grateful for forgiveness and I hope that I can find ways to be merciful because I definitely need more love in my heart.

One of my favorite scriptures states that perfect love casteth out fear. So my goal lately has been to try to love people perfectly and love God perfectly because I fear people, but I know through God love can cast out that fear. And by believing in mercy and loving more, I think I can become so much happier.

Easter

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I love the chocolate bunnies. I love spending time with my family. And most of all, I love celebrating the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This year I decided to make Easter baskets for my family. Mostly it was because I’m single and I have the time and money to do so, but also because I just love making people happy. I love watching someone’s face as they discover something exciting. And Easter baskets are just exciting.

My family used to hide the Easter baskets on Sunday morning. When we woke up we’d have to find them under our bed or behind the tv or between couch cushions. Easter was always exciting for me. And I always hoped to get a chocolate bunny. I’m not exactly sure why, but my favorite chocolate is chocolate bunnies- the solid milk chocolate kind.  I think it has to do with the texture. No matter what brand of chocolate it is, it tastes better as a bunny shape.

Anyway, because Easter and springtime in general is a time for new beginnings, I’ve decided to use this time to set some resolutions. I’ve never engaged very much in setting New Year’s resolutions because I just feel like I shouldn’t have to wait until a new year to start making changes. If I want to make changes in my life, I want to start today not 8 months from now.

But I’ve decided to make some Easter resolutions because I want to be better. And even though I try to be better every day, I think connecting it to Easter will give me greater hope in trying to accomplish my goals. Because in the end, it’s not really me that pulls me to a new level of being. I am just a person, but “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Christmas

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I’ve never really cared much about getting presents, but I love the feeling of Christmas. I love all the lights and that people are usually happier and more giving. The thing I love most about Christmas is that it gives me hope.

I love the lights because they bring light to the darkness, I love the spirit of Christmas because it shows that peoples’ hearts are still good. And I love that people turn to Christ because it helps us remember that the best gifts are the ones of love.

This year I am very excited about Christmas mostly because I feel like I have awesome presents for people and I can’t wait to see how they like them. I love that we get a rush from giving presents that we think people will like. I wonder if heaven had that kind of rush when Christ was born. Maybe that’s why angels went to the shepherds to declare “glad tidings of great joy”. They couldn’t and didn’t want to hold their excitement in that Christ, the Savior of the world, was born.

I can’t imagine how excited I would be that the Savior was born. I don’t talk about religion very much on this blog, but Jesus is a very big part of my life. I don’t think that I could have made it through life with autism if it wasn’t for God. I don’t think autism is a horrible thing and I wouldn’t change that I have it, but it is hard.

I’ve spent many lonely nights crying myself to sleep because I just wanted to be like everyone else. I just wanted to be able to make friends or say hi to someone or let people know how I felt about things. And the only thing that kept me going through all of that was that I had a God that was listening and that understood. I know not everyone believes in God, but I hope that this Christmas season gives you hope like my faith has given me.