Religion can be a tough one for neurodivergents. Either we just don’t have the sort of cognitive processing that allows for discussions on philosophy and spirituality to really land on an even footing; or we have such bad experiences with organized religion that we tend to stay away from the institutions completely.
I’ve been on both sides of the coin in this issue; I’ve attended churches where people clearly thought my family was demon possessed (instead of simply developmentally disabled); and studied non-mainstream belief systems that seemed a lot more accepting of people who didn’t quite fit a norm or traditional standard.
It took me a while, but eventually I figured out that what other people think of me or want from my family isn’t anywhere near as important as what God thinks of me.
For thousands of years, all sorts of conditions that provide challenges or limitations, based on the way our society works, have been considered curses or ill luck. That point of view almost always came from a human perspective, rather than anything specific you’ll find in sacred texts.
If someone is suffering, in any number of religions, you’ll come across several references to miracles being performed by a deity or divine agent, to bring forth welcomed healing. People who genuinely felt afflicted by whatever their situation was were grateful for the cosmic intervention. Not that I have a problem whatsoever with that.
What I do have a problem with is my entire self being thought of as a disease.
When you read the New Testament, the whole point of it is that the Crucifixion and Resurrection occurred so that everyone could receive grace. If you truly believe that, then there shouldn’t be space in your creed for exceptions.
I will never be one of those women who can parent, homeschool, attend every single Bible study, sit on the committees, and turn up to all the ministry events or conferences. Especially not with absolutely perfect makeup, or recently re-styled hair, utterly fashionable clothes, and chances are high my purse won’t match my shoes.
And I finally realized a couple of years ago that I am OKAY with all of that.
There’s nothing wrong with the fact I’m on the spectrum affecting how I dress and socialize, what my interests are, how I’d prefer to spend my free time. We live in a culture that sets out certain expectations and roles, but these aren’t necessarily the purposes God calls individuals to.
Why would it be so unimaginable that God can be using me to stretch others’ minds, to open their hearts? Why does the only point of my existence have to be so that God can perform a miracle by “healing” me…when it may very well be that autism isn’t what needs the restoration?
Why is it such a terrible thing to be different? Why does the world think we deserve the opportunity to become more normalized, to fit in? What if all of that is completely irrelevant to us living our best lives?
The major reasons I struggle with particular environments or circumstances is simply down to the way my brain is wired — physically, my nerves prefer quiet to loud, small to big, the arts to sports. I get overwhelmed when the world decides it isn’t going to adhere to these requirements. And, honestly, I don’t hold it against the people who are fine with that.
All I ask is that they do the same for me.
Here’s what I don’t need: People trying to get me to change who I am in order to have a “better life.”
We still don’t know what causes autism, but I stand firm by my belief that, no matter what, an all-powerful God would know who was going to be born on the spectrum…and let it happen, for whatever reason. Just because we don’t understand why an unusual arrangement of neurotransmitters just is in some brains doesn’t mean it’s the result of random chaos that will ultimately ruin our carefully constructed civilizations.
People need to worry about bigger, more real problems than autism.
If the prevailing Good News is that we’re all loved and redeemable, then why should it be any different for neurodivergents?
My condition is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t require a cure.
God created us, too.