On Simone Biles and Mental Illness

What do I think of the church’s treatment of mental illness? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So now the internet is erupting with talk about Simone Biles stepping down at the Olympics. I see some people who I respect saying what she did is shallow and egotistical. I also see people who I respect saying that she stepped down for her own mental health and that’s commendable. Which side is right? I have no way of knowing. I also suspect that they don’t know on either side, but I figure I can talk about what I do know about, and that is my own struggles at times on the Autism spectrum.

Keep in mind when I say this, that while I realize that there are struggles at times, I do genuinely enjoy my life and I think my “disability” for lack of a better word, gives me advantages overall. If there was a cure developed, I genuinely would not want it. I also say that realizing that not all people on the spectrum are the same. Some would be greatly benefited by a cure.

However, I do want to speak on the downsides some of being on the spectrum. The biggest way is obviously in my relationships with other people. It is difficult for me to interact with people I don’t know very well and social situations can be a danger for me. I realize this is also my own fault in many ways as I have to work to overcome this, but it is a struggle nonetheless.

Consider a few years ago at a church party. Here I was with people I knew and I was fine sitting on the couch by myself reading something while everyone else was having a meal. I generally do not like meal situations. Even when I go to my own Sunday School class evening groups, I don’t eat anything. Anyway, Allie insisted that I eat something so I went and got some chips.

Shortly after the hostess saw me as I was standing in the kitchen having some chips and came up to me and said “You’re eating something! I’m so happy!” I froze immediately. Allie was next to me and laughed some at it as she thought I was joking, but then she stopped laughing. She could tell I wasn’t joking. This was an extremely difficult experience for me and I cannot explain why. I can just say that for the rest of the evening, I just wanted to leave and go home and I was miserable for a few days. I did work it out with the hostess knowing she didn’t mean any harm, but that’s a difficulty.

Last night, I was writing something in my own personal work about being in high school. What do most high school boys think about but girls? I wasn’t an exception. I had a great interest in several of them, but ask them out? Nope. I had no idea how to do that. If approaching someone I didn’t know well or even knew well to ask a difficult request was hard, how do you approach someone like a girl you’re interested in and ask them out? I had no idea.

Eventually, when I went to Bible College, I was enrolled for some time after graduation in the Master’s program and at an event for students in the program, we all went to the president’s place there. Most brought their spouses and I brought my own parents. Someone asked me, “Nick. How did you get through here without getting married?”

Thanks for asking.

Even in one of my areas of expertise, gaming, I can still have a struggle. I thoroughly enjoy playing Final Fantasy XIV with friends, and if you play also let me know and we can be friends there too, but when I am with players I don’t know, it is still a social aspect. I wonder if I am doing the right thing or not. Am I contributing to the team or am I holding us back? If I think I am being scolded, it is difficult.

People also assume many times that I am intentionally rude on the spectrum. I recall one time doing a cashier job and a lady said something like “Have a good day, even though you are not nice at all.”

What did I do?

The best I can figure is I don’t talk to people like everyone else does. I struggle with eye contact and especially after a long day of working, my social batteries would be dead. It becomes a strain to interact with people like that. For many people, I suspect looking at someone in the eyes is perfectly natural and makes sense. For me, I have to intentionally tell myself to look someone in the eye.

Here’s something that strikes me about this. I am told I am not nice at all, but with no reason. If someone really thought that, wouldn’t the nice thing to be to say why that is and give something that needs to be improved on? I am thought rude for not doing social customs instinctively. Isn’t it more rude to assume that I am just like you? As I have said before, no one would go up to someone in a wheelchair and challenge them to a foot race. I have a disability as well, but mine is invisible, which is a downside. There is no glowing message above my head saying “Autism Spectrum Disorder!” The closest I have is a bracelet for Autism Awareness that I wear, but anyone not on the spectrum could wear that.

I recently had someone who I had had some difficulties with in a group I am in and it was causing me great anxiety as I didn’t know how to bring about a conversation. Fortunately, I prayed and I do believe God answered the prayer in a great opportunity presented itself. We ended up talking for about two hours on the matter as I pointed out matters I thought were inconsistent, rightly or wrongly, and how it was deeply affecting me. My friend apologized profusely not realizing what was going on with me and things are much better.

Here is a problem I can have in group discussions. I want to contribute, but also at times I get so caught up in my own excitement on a topic that I lose sight of how others are seeing it. You mean not everyone else is as excited as I am to talk about something like divine simplicity or the evidence for the resurrection or dealing with the problem of evil or any number of subjects? I have been accused before of trying to take over a small group because I just go on and on so much.

It’s really just wanting to be accepted and make a contribution.

When people go on and on about their personal feelings with God, I’m out of the loop. Personal feelings and emotions don’t make much sense to me. In the past, I had even doubted my own salvation because of this, but thankfully, I am for the most part past that now. Still, I cannot relate when people talk about this. This doesn’t mean I never have joy in God, but my joy comes more from an academic approach and learning something about God.

Yet like everyone else, I have many of the same basic needs. I have a need to be loved and to be encouraged and accepted. It’s one reason I treasure my friends that I have. You can always say your family loves you because they’re family, but friends are different. I am amazed that I have people who seem to genuinely enjoy my company and I’m always just wanting to do something to contribute.

To go back to the lady who said I wasn’t nice at all, anyone who knows me really would know that that’s not true. If I see someone in a need, I want to do everything that I can in my power to help them. I don’t have to know them. I have a strong sense of justice. When I have been at a job and seen one of my co-workers get yelled at by someone, I want to go over and see if they’re okay and offer an ear if they need it. How can I do that? Because that doesn’t really require me revealing my own self or making my own self vulnerable. I just have to listen to someone else and I can usually do that.

It’s also one reason I hate the question of “How are you?” People say it, but they make no attempt to have a relationship with me or call me or contact me by some other means during the week to see how I am doing. It tells me it’s just being polite and not really caring about the answer, which really isn’t polite when I think about it.

I don’t know why Simone Biles stepped out of the event she was performing in. I don’t know if it was selfish or selfless. i do know that the church has a lot of work to do on mental illnesses. I know that until you have been in the other person’s shoes, you really can’t understand. It’s why I’m not saying anything either way on what Simone did. I don’t understand and I’m not in her shoes, I can tell you my experience and what being in my shoes is like and if some of what I think here is wrong, I cannot be wrong on one aspect. It is what I really think.

When you meet that person out there who doesn’t seem to do what you think they should, it is true they could be a jerk, but it could be because of very valid reasons. It could be a struggle. Perhaps they are rude, or perhaps the rude one is the one looking at someone in a wheelchair and expecting them to walk like everyone else. The difference is my wheelchair is a social one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Please Don’t Touch

Why is it hard on the spectrum sometimes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

They’re getting close to me. It’s coming. I know it’s coming. I need to prepare myself. It will happen soon. Brace yourself. It’s coming.

“How are you doing?!” and a little pat on the arm or the back.

Move out of brace state. Crisis past.

If you think I am exaggerating, I am not. On the Autism spectrum, this is the way I handle it when complete strangers come up and touch me. Actually, I respond the same way when even people I know want to touch me. My own parents don’t normally get to touch me.

For boys, some of that is natural with parents. There is an age when a boy starts developing an aversion to his mother’s touch. He doesn’t like it and it’s very awkward for him. The touch of another woman? Now that is something entirely different.

For me, I think of the scene from As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson’s character walking down the street and saying “Don’t touch! Don’t touch! Don’t touch!” I don’t do that, but it would sometimes be nice to have that kind of sign. A lot of guys could be hesitant to touch a girl in public today, especially with MeToo and the threat of being charged with sexual harassment in any way. The problem is we assume that our fellow guys don’t mind.

I am sure a lot of them don’t, but those of us on the spectrum don’t come with signs that say “Spectrum!” So what relevance does this have for Christianity? Why talk about this here?

Because if there’s any place that something like this happens, it’s in the church. Many people in the church like to greet one another. If there is anything that I see as a benefit of the whole Covid scare, it’s that churches finally abolished greeting times. I hated those times so much. You shake hands and greet people and tell them how good it is to see them and you don’t interact with them the rest of the week.

Now if I do let someone touch me, that is a rare time, and it is a privilege. It is when there is a special event that has happened that has allowed me to trust someone. Just recently, I had a long conversation with a friend in person that I had had an issue with and when I told him how things looked to me on the spectrum, it was stunning and it was a time of healing for us. Towards the end, he said, “I want to touch you, but I know you don’t like that.” I said, “You can give a little.” He said he wanted to give me a hug, which he did, and I gave a one-handed one back.

Again, if you’re not on the spectrum, you might not understand this, but on the spectrum, this is the way I am. I can compare it to the old classic video games that when someone touches your character, you get damaged or in some, even die. It’s like receiving damage to an extent for me. It is asking me to cross a boundary that I don’t want to cross because I don’t know if you’re a friend or a foe yet.

So what would be my advice? Don’t touch people you don’t know at church. What if that person is on the spectrum and doesn’t like that? Instead, try to get to know them somehow first as much as you can. If someone like me on the spectrum inclines to let you touch us, then consider it that at that point you have earned tremendous trust with us. We still might not like being touched to some extent, but we will accept it.

Please in a church service be cautious how you approach a stranger. I’m someone that can brace myself and not like it, but the wrong person could have a very verbal outpost putting themselves off from church and possibly the gospel.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Some Thoughts On Self-Improvement

How do we grow in character? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been doing a lot of personal work on myself lately and I wanted to share some of that with you all. I don’t want to go into reasons, but I have a firm determination to live my life and enjoy it despite circumstances. Lately, I have noticed a strong struggle I have with anxiety. I have been recommended to read Telling Yourself The Truth which I have read before, but I am going through it again on Kindle and this time highlighting. I personally find it easier to highlight on Kindle instead of in a print book.

When I finish a chapter a day of that, I have also been reading some Albert Ellis. While he was an atheist, Ellis came up with a remarkable theory in psychology and self-help that I do think is thoroughly Biblical. We often think that we are angry or depressed or what-have-you because of the circumstancecs in our lives. There is no doubt that these do play a part in our moods in our day to day living. However, they are not the main causes of our emotions.

Many people will have many different reactions to the same event. Consider on one extreme, for example, my friend David Wood, if he is told that a loved one has died. His reaction? Most likely, something along the lines of “That sucks” and goes on with his day. He’s a sociopath after all and has no emotions. Then there are some people who are heavily emotional and will depending on the person be practically suicidal. Most people will not go to either of those extremes and will be found in the middle.

So you say “People will have different responses because they are different” and that is Ellis’s insight here. What happens to you can be awful and undesirable by you, but what is really the worst about it is what you tell yourself about it. If you have a loved one die, that is a tragedy and you will naturally feel sad and grieve. If you tell yourself that it’s the end of the world and there’s no point in living, then don’t be surprised when you arrive in a suicidal tailspin.

There have been times I’m sure many of us have been in a suicidal state over a powerful loss. If you have to get help, which I do recommend, do so. There is no shame in seeking a therapist out. I have one that I talk to in addition to my own work and many therapists themselves go to see therapists since they can be blind to their own bad thinking. Ultimately though, if you make any person indispensable to your life, you are making that person into a god, and only one is worthy of that kind of attention.

I have also been working on something else for myself and this is something extremely difficult on the spectrum. I suspect many neurotypicals do this naturally, but I don’t for sure. That has been eye contact. At the most, this should be no more than three seconds. Still, at least one second. Smiling is also recommended and then just learning to make polite conversation. I still hate small talk, but I will talk about something of substance.

Why bring this up? Because I wrote yesterday about self-control in areas that we are lacking. These are some of mine. I recognize I am prone to anxious thinking, have difficulty with social interactions, and that I need to work on these. There are other areas to be sure, but these are some I’m trying to conquer first.

Now as a Christian, of course, I advocate prayer and leaning on God, but remember the saying that not even God can drive a parked car. All the prayer in the world will not matter if we are not willing to bend ourselves. You can pray all you want to for God to help you lose that extra weight, but if you refuse to diet and exercise, it’s not going to happen. You can pray that God will help you learn another language, but if you never pick up the book and study, it just won’t happen.

In the same way, if you pray and that is all you do, then you are essentially asking God to do the work for you, which He will not. You are told to die to yourself. No one else can do that for you.

This is also good news though. It means the power to change your own life and how you live is fully possible. If you are a Christian, you should realize this. Philippians is one of the best books on the nature of joy in the New Testament, or even the whole Bible. Where was it written from? A prison cell. No. This was not a prison where Paul was served three square meals a day and had cable TV and a workout room. This was a prison no one would want to be in.

Yet Paul had joy.

Honestly, in light of all that we can complain about, we’re pretty pathetic. Paul is dealing with an actual prison cell and many of us get upset if someone cuts us off in traffic or says something negative about us on Facebook. This is not to discount that we can have some real problems, but let us put it in perspective. Most of what we stress about won’t be bothering us a year from now. Naturally, some things will. Just today, I posted in a group I’m in about one of our own who committed suicide last year and from time to time, I still think about him and ask “If I had stayed in his life, with what I do in ministry, could I have helped him?” It’s really futile thinking, but it’s something we have a tendency to do. Events like that will stick with us, but the good news is they don’t have to hurt as much as they do initially or control our lives. That’s up to us.

It’s also good to do this with other Christians and to have a thorough knowledge of Scripture to remind you of the promises you hold to. Again, if you need a therapist also, there’s no shame in getting one. If your case is severe, I don’t even rule out medication. For some people, it can practically be a necessity, but I would advise that if you seek medication, seek therapy also.

The main takeaway from this is developing Christian character is within our grasp, if we develop the needed self-discipline and lean on God working in us. We have to be willing. I heard the saying once from Catholic theologian Peter Kreeft that, and he quoting someone else, that if you are not a saint right now, it is because you do not want to be one. No matter what branch of Christianity you hold to, saint is a title none of us should hesitate to seek. Do you want to be one? Then aim for it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Happy Liberal Passover!

How shall we celebrate June? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When Autism Awareness Month started in April, I ordered some bracelets that say Autism Awareness on them and started wearing them. For you, my readers, I blogged on an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to have Aspergers, a subset of Autism. I did an interview on the topic for a Christian podcast as well.

I barely remember seeing one ad, I think on Hulu, about Autism Awareness.

Yesterday was June 1st, the start of Gay Pride Month.

Already, the day before Words With Friends 2 has a theme going on this week about gay pride with a bonus yesterday if you played the word “pride” and today if you play the word “trans.” I saw WatchMojo released a video on top LGBTQ+ characters in video games and I am sure more such vids are coming. I saw ads from companies like LinkedIn and others celebrating. I saw numerous people on Facebook posting messages for Gay Pride Month.

Now these businesses and people have a right to do what they want with their business. However, where was this support for the Autism community? After all, if we say we care about the people involved, does this mean that most companies today don’t care about people on the spectrum? I don’t want to think that, so perhaps there’s something else going on.

Have you seen what happens if you disagree with the LGBTQ community? You get blacklisted and “cancelled” and often sued. Is it a shock then that so many businesses are putting up rainbow images? Imagine if we changed Exodus 12 to this idea.

And the LGBTQ community said, “And we will pass through your social media accounts, and when we see the rainbow avatar, we will not destroy, but if we come to any business account that does not have a rainbow account, we will bring all our forces on you to show you are against diversity and inclusion and you’re a bigot and we will destroy you in our fury.”

Keep in mind that a few years ago, these were the people telling us we need to be tolerant. As is expected, when such people get into power, tolerance is not a virtue that is cared about anymore. It was useful for the time, but you can be sure there won’t be tolerance for evangelical Christians and others who disagree, except perhaps Muslims since we don’t want to be killed.

So as this Liberal Passover goes on (I wish the name was original to me, but a friend came up withit), other communities can be expected to be ignored as is common. I didn’t even see this much last month when it was for Asians and Pacific Islanders. Of course, that’s also because Asians likely won’t sue you if you say nothing about them.

So then for all those businesses who are treating this month like it’s the most awesome thing ever, where was the “love” when it was the month for Autism? Where was the celebration of diversity and inclusiveness? After all, I think it is pretty firmly established that we’re born this way. I don’t think many of you want to go with the idea that vaccines cause Autism since we have heard enough condemnation in Covid about the Anti-Vax community.

So let’s see. We are born this way and we have a known disability and we’re not even asking for pride. The month for April is not Autism Pride Month. It is Autism Awareness Month. I do celebrate that I am on the spectrum, but I know it’s not because of anything that I did so pride isn’t fitting. What criteria do we not fit that we get people to talk about our month?

Once again, as a Christian, while I do oppose homosexual behavior, I also support the freedom businesses have to do what they want. If you want to support Gay Pride Month, that is your choice, and if you don’t want to support Autism Awareness Month, that is also your choice. At the same time, if someone doesn’t want to support a business for their choices, that is also their choice. That’s the way freedom works after all.

I just would like to have some consistency and I would delight in hearing from businesses. Why is this month something you want to shout out about, but April was met with cold silence? Is it hatred or disapproval of the autistic community? Are we just not worth it? Why the silence?

I think I already know the answer and it’s the one I gave above, but if I’m wrong, let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: Finale

What is the conclusion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. One final example first. It looks like WordPress apparently independently decided to change my font and I am not sure how to change it back. My Aspie side is internally screaming at this. I realize others not on the spectrum could be the same way, but I definitely am being on it.

But for now, until I get that fixed, let’s discuss the heart of the matter. We’ve been looking all this month at life on the spectrum. Today, it has come to an end. By the way, as I said on Facebook, while I have every now and then seen something about Autism in an ad on a website or a commercial, it is nowhere near the celebration when it comes to identity politics. I find that interesting.

So in the end, what is the goal of all of this? It’s to help those on the outside to understand. It is not to justify any sort of bad behavior. I always say that our Autism is an explanation, but it is not a justification, which only applies if we are doing something wrong or inappropriate. I am not asking for special treatment. I just ask for understanding.

After all, who are we? We are your neighbors. We are your family. We are your friends. We are the people you see at the grocery store. We are the people who are serving you at the bank. You worship with us in a church service. You sit next to us at the DMV. We are in the halls of your schools. You befriend us, love us, and marry us.

We are different from you, but in many ways, we are also people just like you. We can be hurt emotionally, physically, verbally, mentally, and in every other way. Rejection can hit very hard for us. We really do know what it’s like to be on the outside.

Like you, deep down, we all want to be loved. We want to matter to someone else. We want to have friends. I even consider myself more of a loner, but I would not want to go through life without having friends.

The difference is that we do not have our disability out there for everyone to see. If you see someone in a wheelchair, you don’t challenge them to a footrace. Nothing in us explicitly screams “Autism” even if you can tell something is different. Today, I do wear an autism awareness bracelet. Part of it is my hope that someone will notice and at least ask me about the bracelet.

Seek to understand first. I know sometimes when I do something people don’t understand in a public place, I can hear people talking about me and thinking I can’t hear. I can. It doesn’t bother me like it used to, but that’s only after years of studying and learning all that I can. Many others on the spectrum could be less equipped.

Then, show some kindness. Be gentle. We want to know if we are doing something wrong and we don’t like it if we receive mixed messages on that. Life is confusing for all of us and we have an extra layer of that confusion.

However, if you come to know us, we are people who want to be a blessing in your life and we can be. We can be your friend and if you marry us, we can even be a lover to you. Of course, there are varying degrees of capability, but many of us strive to be all that we can be. Personally, that is my own philosophy. Life is a gift and I want to live it and appreciate all that I can of what God gave.

When the month ends, you may not be aware of people on the spectrum that same way. I am aware of it all year long. I am thankful there is a month that people can recognize us, but I wish society would take it more seriously. We are special people as well who can contribute to our world just as much as anyone else can.

Thank you for reading this month. Please be aware.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: A Cure

What would happen if there was a cure for Autism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This one will be my opinion in many ways. There are many fine organizations researching Autism and looking for a cure. I have no problem with this. However, I have for years now had the same opinion about the matter.

I don’t doubt there are plenty of people that have extremely difficult cases of Autism such that it is hard if not impossible for them to function. For such people, it would be a great thing if a cure came along. For me, I don’t go that route. If there was a cure today, I would not take it.

I compare it to when the third movie of the original X-Men trilogy came out. Some mutants wanted a cure for their mutation, like Rogue, who wanted to be able to experience human contact without worrying about killing someone. Others would not want it at all because they saw their mutation as helpful.

I would be in the latter group. If someone came up with a cure for Aspergers, I would not be interested in getting it. I consider the benefits that I experience greater than the costs, and there very much are real costs. When I go to a social gathering at someone’s home involving food, it can be a reminder of how I am different in a way I don’t care for.

Despite that, I prefer the benefits. I regularly use multi-tasking and memorization and traits like that. I like the way my mind works. I have even gone so far as to speculate that even in eternity, I could still be an Aspie. I am sure there won’t be any negatives at that point, but I do consider it an important part of my identity. If God takes it from me, then He knows what is best, but I would understand if He didn’t.

Now if you are on the spectrum or know someone who is and want a cure, this is nothing against you. This is just my opinion on my personal situation. If you want that cure and you are sure you will be better for it, God bless you, and I am not at all telling those in research to stop looking. I am also open to anything that improves my life overall.

Whatever side we are on with regards to a cure, whether we want one personally or not, we can all do something to raise awareness about Autism and make life better for those of us on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: Love

Can someone on the spectrum love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What does it mean to love? Sadly, love is one of the most meaningless words we have in our society today. This is not to downgrade love, but love is something that everyone says and very few people bother to define. The other word that comes to mind like that is God, and I’m certainly not one who disbelieves in God so consider the parallel.

The problem is we have so many different ideas all contained in one word of love. We can say we love pizza, a TV show, a video game, a sports team, a neighbor, a spouse, and God, and we use the same word for all of them. I certainly hope that you don’t love your family the same way you love pizza.

Meanwhile, when two people have sex, we often say that they are “making love.” I find this terminology strange, but not totally false since for a married couple definitely, the marital act is to build up love. Unfortunately, in our society, we also think that sex equals love, a trap especially young girls fall into thinking if a boy has sex with them, it means he loves them. No. The boy could really just be wanting to have sex.

But today, we’re asking if someone on the spectrum is capable of love. The answer to this is an unequivocal yes. Those on the spectrum can love, but it might look different from other people.

For me, love can have emotional highs, but those are the exception. I have more of a reality in my mind about the importance of the person. For a spouse, it’s a covenant relationship with them. For friends, it’s my willingness to do what I can to help them when they are in need.

Sometimes, this is difficult still as being on the spectrum, to a degree that could be higher than for others, it is often difficult to step outside of myself and see things from the perspective of the other. I don’t think we’re alone in that, but I think the degree for us is far more intense.

However, for many of us, loyalty remains something very special. I often think I would fit in wonderfully in the biblical world with honor and shame as this is how I examine my relationships with others. If someone betrays me or wrongs me in a great way, it is hard for me to ever trust them again. By contrast, if someone treats me right, I always want to honor my personal debt to them and show loyalty to them.

To return to love, something to keep in mind is that love is not an emotion. It can result in strong emotions, but it is not that. Just because someone has strong emotions does not mean that they have strong love. Love is shown in the actions someone does. I think it was Lewis who said it is your reactions that will show who you are more than your actions.

Love is seeking the good of the other for the sake of the other and if you truly love someone, you have to ask yourself regularly if you are seeking their good or not. There are times that letting go can be for someone else’s good. If you base it on an emotion, the emotion by nature cannot last forever and it will fade.

If you are in a relationship with someone on the spectrum, be it family, friendship, or romantic, be assured that they can love. Someone on the spectrum can also be hurt so watch how you treat them as well. We may not respond the same way as you, but the ways that we are similar are greater than the ways that we are different.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: Emotions

How do we handle emotions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s really difficult on the spectrum to make sense of emotions. When I am debating with an atheist who tells me I am a Christian for emotional reasons, I know not to take them seriously. If anything, when I get really emotional, that is when I am most often wrestling with emotional doubt.

Emotions are difficult for someone like me to understand. I wonder what I am supposed to feel in such and such a circumstance. I have heard also that if there is any emotion that a man can really understand and most often experiences, it’s anger. I do not consider myself an outsider on this.

I think it’s also common for men on the spectrum. In the movie Adam, when the main character, an aspie, finds out that he has been tricked by the girl he is dating, he explodes in a barrage of anger and hostility. I have been told that as a small child, if my Mom moved one of my matchbox cars during the night, I would be angry until things were put back.

I suspect this might be because we on the spectrum tend to live in a world of order. We want things to be as close to orderly as possible and fit into their place. When something goes against that, we have a hard time processing it. This is one reason small talk irritates me so much. When you call and engage in small talk, that means that time we could be spending on dealing with what we are meant to dealt with is wasted going through this routine behavior.

Consider this especially with when I have to call a place of business for technical service and have to hear the script that they read. I’m sitting there telling them I know all of this already and could quote it to me. Can we please just move on and deal with the problem?

Sometimes however, we can be very unemotional. This is especially important in a religious context. If you are trying to get someone on the spectrum to the point of feeling in religious discussion, then you could be wasting your time.

This is also why I struggle when I hear people telling me when I am struggling with something to do what you feel like God is leading you to do or what God is telling you. First off, I don’t see that kind of language in Scripture. Second, how can anyone tell what feelings come from God and what feelings don’t?

I have seen this go on at many churches. I have heard Protestant Churches talk about what God has done in their fundraising drives and I have seen an Orthodox Church do the same. I always wonder “How do you know God is behind this?” Suppose the fundraising drive didn’t work out well. Would that mean God was against you? I don’t think this is really a denominational thing. I think it’s more of an American thing.

When I am talking with someone about something, it’s really hard to see something from their perspective. I can know someone is in a lot of pain, and yet feeling it is extremely difficult for me. If you come to me for a counseling situation and expect me to resonate with your feelings, you’ll likely be disappointed. I will stick to talking about the problem at hand and what to do about it.

I even remember in the past a friend told me that they thought the world of me, but if they had a problem, Allie was better at helping them with it because of her better listening skills. I wouldn’t dispute that. I don’t claim to be a therapist. It doesn’t mean I can’t do it, but it does mean that I will not be what you expect.

Now you might be specifically wondering about love. Is an Aspie capable of love? I think unless something comes up, I will tackle that tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Evangelism

How do we do at evangelism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Evangelism is one of those more difficult areas for me. After all, you’re supposed to go up to complete strangers and talk to them about Jesus. Going up to a complete stranger is awkward enough for us on most anything. I can go up to a stranger, but I have to mentally prepare myself. This includes even a stranger at the grocery store who works there that I need to ask where an item is.

Now if I was teamed up with someone and they got the ball rolling, I could handle it just fine. If I am at home and the Mormons or JWs come by, I can also handle that just fine. I could do the same if you came up and engaged me, although there would be some suspicion at first as I always wonder about people who I don’t know engaging me in conversation out of the blue.

Fortunately, this is the age of the internet and there is more than one way to do evangelism. The internet is a great gift to me in this in that I can easily talk to people I don’t know. There is no need of having them face to face. Be it on Facebook or TheologyWeb.com or even the comments section on a blog or media article, I can engage.

This is important because there are some people who will say the only way to do evangelism is face to face. Maybe in the past, that would have been more likely, but even in the distant past, it wasn’t. Some people in the ancient world were prolific writers. Think about how blessed we are today that Paul was a writer.

What began the Protestant Reformation? Was it a speech that was given by Luther? Nope. It was the written word. There are many cases with writing that the pen is mightier than the sword. Today, writing is all the easier. If Paul had written something like this, it could have taken him an hour or two, maybe longer. For me, I can do this in a few minutes.

None of this is to say that this way is superior. It’s good that some people can do face to face evangelism and there is still a place for that. There is also a place for evangelism on the internet and not everyone is capable of studying apologetics in-depth. Many people don’t care for arguments about their faith and fewer still would like to do live debate.

This really means we balance each other out. I happen to enjoy doing evangelism on the internet. It’s my hopes my writing will be helpful to those who go out and do the face-to-face evangelism or for those who also engage on the internet.

Keep in mind, this is not at all to say I don’t realize the importance of the mission. It’s just that there are some ways I am more capable and other ways other people are more capable, and that’s okay. Part of wise living is realizing you can’t do everything well.

If you can do face-to-face, God bless you and thank you. Please remember those of us who do this on the internet. Those of us on the spectrum who do this find it much easier to do as well. I plan on writing soon on the internet in general, but I am thankful the internet has made evangelism much more doable for someone like myself.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Prayer

How do you talk to God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the difficult things for a Christian on the spectrum like myself in Christianity is prayer. I can understand evangelism. I can grasp hard doctrines like the Trinity and other such ideas. I can understand Bible study and giving to those in need.

Prayer is something that I find much more of a struggle.

Now why would that be? Picture that if you’re on the spectrum, when you’re talking to someone right in front of you, that can be difficult enough. This is someone in front of you who is actively sending social cues to you and actively responding at times. Your mind is trying to study everything and know what they are telling you and trying to understand any cues that you may be missing.

Now carry this over to prayer. When you pray, you are talking to someone who you cannot see and you’re not talking to just another person, but you’re talking to a divine person. You don’t want to treat them casually just like any other person, but you don’t want to go in acting all high and holy entirely because that can just seem fake and like you’re putting on a show.

How long do you pray? People can often talk about prayer for a long time being a struggle, but then we read about saints in the past who spend hours praying. I think of Martin Luther who said tomorrow, he would be extra busy and he would have to spend an extra hour in prayer. For someone like myself, I don’t understand being able to spend hours in prayer let alone one hour.

I understand all the formulas for prayer which are often problematic for me because they make it, well, formulaic. It can seem like you’re just going through the motions. Again, I struggle here.

Going to length, minute prayers as I call them I can sometimes understand. When I am driving and I hear sirens from a first responder going by, I say a minute prayer as I drive that all will work out well. Naturally, I don’t close my eyes or kneel down for that. I can see that as making sense, but I don’t understand the long time spent in prayer. What are the rules? How long do you go? How short is too short? How long is too long?

It’s interesting that when we look at the Lord’s Prayer, it is actually a short prayer. You can say it in under a minute. This we see in Scripture, but we also look at Scripture and see again, hours of prayer.

So keep this in mind when talking to someone on the spectrum. If normal persons are hard to relate to, divine persons can be so much harder. Give some guidance on this to your friend on the spectrum and help them out. It will be something difficult for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)