Saturday, October 1, 2016

Fellowship without fear

It's Fall here in Georgia. In honor of the (finally!) cooler temperatures, I scheduled a visit to the sunflower/pumpkin patch with my friend. It's not too far from us, only about 40 minute drive. It's free to get in, and the only thing you pay for are any pumpkins or sunflower cuttings you might want. It should be a fun morning. I'm envisioning us to grab a coffee, enjoy a nice drive out there, stroll in the crisp air, take LOTS of photos, and have a relaxing drive back.

The previous social engagement I scheduled was with this same friend ... last December. Does it seem strange to you that I have social outings only twice per year, or ten months apart? Not to me. It's normal, and the pace is perfect.

I'm autistic and most weekends and evenings I spend recovering from the day and the week alone at home. In the silence. The bewildering aspects of sociability, the noise of being among people, the nasty surprises like a bell going off or a car alarm blaring, wear on me like I'm cheese on a cheese grater. By the end of the day every last nerve is whittled down, my body is actually throbbing in pain, and I'm near tears.

Not that I don't enjoy people, I do. Most times I enjoy a witty remark, a pleasant exchange, or just seeing what people wear or what they brought for lunch. I like the people I work with and I love the children. It's just that by the end of the day it's sensory overload. I need time to recuperate.

It's also that I don't really want to have lengths of time with people. Though it's true that sometimes I really don't, other times I think it might be nice to do so. Whether that flickering desire stems from a genuine level of empathy or friendliness, or I'm just succumbing to a social pressure to do something most people enjoy, I don't know. Being a typical Aspergers person I don't care. The thought is fleeting and then I'm on to more serious pursuits.

But then...I read things like this in the Bible:

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:46)

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. (John 2:1-2)

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. (Mark 2:15).

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. So they hosted a dinner for Jesus there. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him. (John 12:1-2)

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (Acts 2:44)

The Bible shows us that there were gatherings in the Lord's name and friendships and dinners and parties and weddings and banquets. The Bible is strong on gathering together, fellowship with like-minded believers, koinonia, service, hospitality and building each other up. So avoiding any and all gatherings is not an option. Church going and small talk afterward, being a member of a small group study, and joining the occasional all-church gathering is important. I do so because it's commanded and I seek to honor the Lord. I just wish it wasn't so painful.

Well, someday it won't be!

In heaven the fellowship will be without limits, without fears, without any negatives at all. I can't imagine how it will be to be freed from the distress of social interaction. Talking will be full of meaning because it will center on Jesus without reservation and without error. The sweetness of being together will be fully realized as we visibly see our selves as His body and visibly see Him as the Head.

I suppose I will still have the same autistic brain since He made me this way in the first place. I am guessing that even in heaven there will be those people there who are more gregarious and those who are more shy. We will retain our personality after all, but without the underlying cause being fear, or distress, or anxiety. I'm looking forward to visiting with martyrs, Apostles, heroes, and all the rest of the laypeople who comprise His redeemed church in a sweet fellowship devoid of anything negative and wholly saturated with glory, goodness, and joy.


10 comments :

  1. No small talk in heaven about the weather, television, movies.
    No small talk about things of the world.
    We can always talk about God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
    What a relief to all of us who are autistic.

    Jacco Pippel

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  2. Nice post, Elizabeth. Thanks for opening up about this and showing how Scripture applies to our everyday lives, struggles and all.
    Melissa

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  3. I don't think you'll have the same autistic condition in Heaven. I don't know that there's any Scripture that says that, but Paul did state that we are now an imperfect work:

    "5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart. For in my chains and in my defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partners in grace with me . . . . Philippians 1:5-7

    When my New Testament Greek professor would come to this passage, he would hold up his hands, fingers spread. Somehow, he had lost the top of his right index finger from the knuckle up. "I'll have 10 fingers in Heaven." What he was saying is that God would continue perfecting us until our Perfection in the Heavenly Places.

    I understand that there are some who think they will not be comfortable or the same person if they are in Heaven not the way they are here. But is seems that Paul is implying that our incompleteness in what ever form it now takes, will be transitioned during in our Perfection--our maturity--process.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that all of whatever does not measure up to perceived norms in us, will become different--restored. "Behold [get THIS]," Paul said. "I show you a mystery. We will not sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." Seems that Paul is saying that the ultimate change in what was our earthly bodies, will be changed after that: restoration to the Lord's standard of perfection. And, in His original version of the human body, there was no sin or illness or differences in Adam and Even. In other words, I have to think think that we will be as Adam and Eve were by the time we get to Heaven.

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  4. Dear Elizabeth, I am a bit distraught that you believe you will have the "same autistic brain" in Heaven. I see that you believe there won't be fear, distress, anxiety or "any negatives at all", but...I really have been trying (these past two months or so) to understand correct doctrine and the tenets of Calvinism. I must ask: do Calvinists believe that we will retain all the deformities/infirmities/"original design" flaws we were born with on earth? The only difference is that in Heaven, we won't cry about them? Or even more severe, we *will* still cry because we will still not function as others were born to do, but God himself will wipe those tears away (Revelation 21:4) (and leave us under-functional)?
    I live in an agony of body that requires teeth-gritting obedience every day not to take my own life. I truly do live for the "hope of glory" and the release of not being in my "earthly tent" someday. To hear that *even in Heaven*, I will still have all of my "original design flaws" because that's how God intended me to be...I simply don't know where to put such despair.
    Even to hear that I will still have a body that "by design" doesn't operate well, but that the major difference in Heaven will be that I won't feel bad about it...it still adds up to despair to me. I understand that autism is a spectrum and maybe you are saying that God won't change your personality for Heaven, but I have been believing this whole time that people born without limbs or sight or other body functions (or brain operation) would be given a resurrection body that is fully formed, fully functional, fully whole and "perfected." I would also like to add that I am more than willing to have a different personality for eternity (!!!!); it is safe to say that I wouldn't recognize myself--nor would anyone else!--without my incredible capacity for selfishness, depression, exasperation, melancholy, anger, despondency...and I can hardly wait!
    I will devote further (slower) study to 1 Cor. 15, but...please help me. I am hanging *everything* on the hope of glory; everything in me cries all day and all night for the perfection of Jesus reigning over ALL and the absence of wickedness. Must I still only look forward to perfection in everything else *except* my body?

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  5. Hi Deanna,

    Don't be distraught. This is just a conversation. It's OK.

    Calvinsim has nothing to do with our bodies in heaven. Calvinism is not a Godzilla stomping its way through the Bible, for which all other people must cower in fear when it's mentioned. Calvinism actually has nothing to do with bodies in heaven.

    Third, Autism is not a deformity or a flaw. It's not leprosy. I actually prefer it. I think it would be great if God changed all other neuro-typical people into autistic people in heaven. That would be heaven to me.

    It just means my brain is wired differently. I see the world differently than people with typical neurons. It makes me, me. I believe my personality will be the same, just perfected and as I said, without any negatives.

    There is no statement in this essay even close to your interpretation that "To hear that *even in Heaven*, I will still have all of my "original design flaws" because that's how God intended me to be".Nothing even close. You're reading your fears into things, heavily.

    We will be perfect in heaven, each of us individually. Timothy's frequent stomach issues will be gone. Jacob's limp will have disappeared. Paul's eyesight will be perfect. And yet, Timothy will still be Timothy, probably a little shy or retiring, Paul will still have a sharp legal mind, and Jacob will still be family man Jacob. They will all be all uniquely themselves.

    If you are living in teeth gritting agony not to take your own life every day and are that close to taking your own life every day, you need to seek professional help. This is not the way Jesus would have you to live. Contemplating suicide each day and counting it victory that you didn't kill yourself is not victorious living. Please, consider help.

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  6. Ahhh...how sweet heaven will be! You and I seen to have a few "symptoms" in common. I share in your need of solitude to cure the irritation of daily life in this world. Unlike you tho, I go through periods of deep longing for "typical" relationships, but at the same time find it uncomfortable to socialize or even have conversations. I have been particularly convicted of not participating in full fellowship with others. Our preacher said a few months ago in a sermon that the word for fellowship ment being in a legal partnership with someone where you would be bound by law to give absolutely everything you have to make right a mistake made by the other person. That really struck me. Of course I feel that for my child, but my brother's & sisters in Christ? I'm failing miserably. I do thank God for opening my eyes and am trying to build better relationships and love the body in better. I am really looking forward to there not being any sin in heaven, especially my own!

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  7. I can't even fathom perfection and sin not muddying everything that I think and do. I completely understand the day to day frustrations (particularly sounds - smacking, cellophane wrappers, plate scraping) and the need to decompress after it all. Smells can be as plaguing to me as the sound issue. Scalp smell, multiple food smells, breath, body odors are all true bothers that near disgust. I have had unfortunately great hearing and sense of smell since I can remember. I always feel guilt for being rattled by such mundane ridiculousness. My fellow man is undeserving of thoughts of frustration over things that they can't control. Perfect fellowship with our perfect bodies, perfect ears and perfect noses that won't be bothered by the simple daily norm? Praise God.

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  8. It's comforting to see others share in our "uniqueness" LOL. I always credit my idiosyncrasies or my different personality to being an introvert. I always question labels society gives such as Autism/Aspergers, yet it seems I am on that spectrum myself. I am very much like you Elizabeth and Barré5o4. I have ultra-sensitive hearing and sense of smell, bothered IMMENSELY by many odors/chemicals/fragrances, they make me ill and I have to leave the area. Friends think I am odd because I ask them not to burn candles (except beeswax or ones with essential oil) or use air freshener plug-ins, perfume etc., when I come to their home. I STRESS greatly at the thought of being trapped at a gathering at someone's home that I don't know, because inevitably one or more of those things are being used. Same with loud sounds, voices, crowds or annoying chewing food loudly, crinkling wrappers while I am trying to read or watch a movie...it just makes me crazy and I have to complain or leave the area asap! I have to have COMPLETE silence when I read or I cannot concentrate or comprehend what I am reading. It's as if I hear EVERYTHING all at once and I am unable to block out the peripheral sounds. It's really awful in a room full of people all talking (like after church) and someone tries to carry on a conversation with me, I hear everyone's conversation so I can't even engage in a personal interaction...I usually apologize and end the conversation, then sneak out to my car.
    And finally, I abhor functions or being trapped in small-talk or with strangers (especially in my home-horrified!). I love people, I really do, especially the brethren, but most of the time I just don't want to talk to them... unless it's something deep and profound that interests me, like scripture etc. I enjoy spending limited time with friends (best if we are DOING something, not just talking) but I can't take long visits, it just wears me out and I need to recharge by myself. Most of the time I prefer my own company, where it's comfortable, I don't have to try to think of something to say, or worry about saying the wrong thoughtless thing (which I do often). I hate shopping (love Amazon though!) and can only go in about one shop and I am worn out emotionally by being in crowds and stimuli. I LOVE QUIET! I'm not shy at all or aloof, but I get pegged that because I don't jump in and interact, preferring to observe and ponder in my own mind.
    Now, with that being said...imagine being married to someone who is completely the opposite, and doesn't have any understanding (well he tries but ...) of my quirks. Yeah, we are at odds often because of the lack of understanding. I guess it's a good thing haha, because I am in prayer a lot, crying out to God to help me cope with living this life with HUMANS! :) I smile and nod my head when I read your revelations like the one you posted...because I DO UNDERSTAND and empathize and it comforts me because I am your sister from another mother...LOL

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    1. Hi Heather-CA,

      Everything you write is what my life is like (except being married.) Everything! I can't wait to fellowship with you in heaven. :)

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    2. Amen my sister, amen! That will be lovely! I do not even know (besides virtually) even one person who is like us. I guess if there is one, they keep to themselves and don't want to be known LOL!

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