19 November 2009

Wordless.

I posted a bit ago about how I rather dislike the whole Christmas season as a secular package. The whole purchasing season and the obligations, I felt, can detract from the message.

Woodjie is teaching me something different. He loves the Christmas lights, even if he doesn't understand the "message." He LOVES the Christmas lights. HE LOVES THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!! He's jumping up and down, waving his arms about and screaming happy about the Christmas lights. I've just got to hold him sometimes and bring him over by the tree to feel him just shake head-to-toe with glee. His little smile. His bright blue eyes.

Did you know he wakes up giving kisses? Did anyone ever know *extreme* joy before he demonstrated it?

You know, I don't worry too much about teaching doctrine to this one yet. Even "Jesus loves me, this I know" might not be getting through. He has a "pray" PEC and he has learned to be silent for just a moment while the blessing is spoken. Is he really praying over his food? I highly doubt it. I used to worry a bit about how that would effect his "walk with God" until I realized... most of us aren't really praying, either. Not really.

I'm not sure how well-connected he's going to be with God as he grows. I know that it's hard enough to present the idea of "no" to him, and the whys behind it. Sin as a concept is a bit beyond that yet still. He's nowhere near understanding that. Is he going to be saved? Not saved? Is there any sort of doctrinal third category into which one heaps the assorted disabled people? Sort of like the "wheelchair" symbol. It's kinda sexless and nondescript. It could be anybody who doesn't fit the "male or female" model. The handicapped? They're almost like a third sex or a third classification of person, pictographically.

No, I don't think that about Woodjie. He's a boy. He's a toddler. He likes doing boy and toddler things. But sometimes I do understand why some organizations use the puzzle piece to symbolize the autistic person. Do they fit? Not fit? Do we say they fit, but they really don't fit? I find myself going back over the Bible and trying to figure out what God has to say about teaching this particular child.

And I'm really finding nothing.

I mean, yeah. Good precepts about "train up a child in the way he should go" and yeah yeah yeah lots of vague generalities. But nothing about "how to make God clear to a non-verbal person" or "how to integrate the people God chooses not to heal for the present moment into worship services." Or anything like that. Or even a MENTION of a non-verbal autistic type person. There were deaf and mute but not people who could hear perfectly well and still didn't speak. Nobody like Woodjie.

Our church has very kind volunteers who genuinely care for Woodjie. They are kind to him, even though he can be difficult to care for. At the same time... I'm reading through the church membership packet and realizing Woodjie will NEVER be a member. He cannot "declare" his faith in Christ. He doesn't even understand the words "faith" or "Christ." Guess he's doomed to Hell.

Crap, that is so not funny. That was me crying while I typed that, ok? And you know, browsing the denominational website, I see all kinds of things about the disabled being a part of the church and how it's important to incorporate them into our family. But Woodjie does not speak. He does not write. He will never be a member on paper, someone considered "one of us" on the church rolls.

Part of me really gets that differentiation. One fellow at the membership meeting quipped that God sure isn't going to be checking our membership cards at the door. And he's right! Then again, the church (you know, the ORGANIZATION, not necessarily the Church, the body of Christ... get a Venn diagram and see there are some that are both, some and/or) shouldn't open itself up to let anyone in to teach its children without some basic agreements on "this we believe." I see both sides of that argument.

But I'm left back where I started. I'm left with this "puzzle piece." I am realizing that it is not a piece at all, but a complete work of God, a reflection of His very image. A wordless reflection, given to me for a season to love and raise.

I am wordless myself, typing this.

11 comments:

  1. Jeremiah 29:11

    For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.


    I always find that comforting, somehow.

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  2. The verse that Deb wrote is so comforting. God gave me that verse. Now I'm not the type to go around saying that God gives me messages. But, when I was told by the doctor that he had found a lump on Nutkin's little neck at 13 weeks gestation (and not to get my hopes up), and I was crying in the bathroom, God did indeed give me that verse. I didn't even really know that verse at the time, but there is was in my head - or, heart, I should say.

    Our friends have a daughter that is profoundly deaf. He says that he believes these "special" kids are God's little prophets. I think he is right. I think these kids are closer to God in a way that we won't understand this side of heaven. That's what I believe.

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  3. When our son was diagnosed a very old pastor in our church talked to my husband and told him that to whatever capacity God gives him our son has some capacity to know God. That God would be faithful in that respect. He also told us a story about his own son who has several difficulties. They told him that he needed to put his son in an institution. He said that he stood up and told the person: My son is in an institution, the institution of a family!

    This man was a missionary to Ethiopia for many years and we respect him very much!

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  4. IF there is a GOD... and I'm very sceptical on that one.... I am sure he would accept Woodjie just the way he is... and not EXPECT HIM to necessarily be able to read/write/pray/talk etc... Woodjie is a perfect little boy, he is pure of heart and will certainly NOT go to HELL (if there is such a thing)!

    I definitely think that even though I am NOT a religious person, it does not mean I am evil and going to hell.
    I do good for anyone I can, I care for my family and friends, and even complete strangers... but I do not believe in 'God' as such. Does that mean I am going to hell?

    Anyone who says I am is not a very nice person. Who is to say at the end of the day who is right and who is wrong? I don't think anyone is right or wrong, I think we are all entitled to our own opinion, and as long as we respect that right (to have our own opinion) then all is good!

    Yikes... I think I got off track a bit.
    But basically I just wanted to say that Woodjie is no way in HELL going to hell! He is perfect in his own way.

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  5. Do any of us, disabled or not, really 'understand God'? I look at all the denominations and that tells me 'No.' We all believe we do, and live accordingly, but i think we all probably have an inth of an understanding.

    One thing I believe is in a God of Love, a God of compassion, who meets us ALL, autistic or not, verbal or not, at our level of understanding.

    One of the things said to me when Finbar died was, just as well he did, as when he had gotten older, he may not have been able to make a decision to live for Jesus. I am still 'what the?' to this day on that one. What kind of God would allow people to be born, unable to make a decision to live for him as us able bodied people can, and then condemn them to an eternity in hell. That just doesn't make sense to me.

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  6. I'm in a non-denominational church and we don't really have memberships and such but I have been going for 30 years to the same church. I know God has a special place in his heart for disabled. :) God judges the heart. We can all talk, do good things, read our bibles or not.... but in the end, only God sees our heart. He knows what's going on in the inside that no one else sees. I have some worries with my kids. I worry all the time that I'm not doing good enough to train them in the Lord.

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  7. Church membership.

    Went 'round and 'round with one of my friends about this. We both took the "membership class" at the same time. She was convinced that I needed to sign the paper and become a member--even though/especially since I'd been there for years, taught Sunday School, helped with leadership...--and I was less than convinced.

    I finally decided it wasn't hurting anything to be a member.

    She one day just disappeared, never to return to the church she so passionately "membered" herself to.

    I still attend and help where I can.

    Doesn't relate much to your experience. But I felt like sharing mine.

    We're blogging buddies, so that's okay... right?

    ~Luke

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  8. "I am realizing that it is not a piece at all, but a complete work of God, a reflection of His very image. A wordless reflection, given to me for a season to love and raise."

    Whew! I was so torn reading your post, and then you wrote this. Exactly!

    Woodje is "fearfully and wonderfully made." The scripture applies to ALL of us made in His image. There aren't any mistakes, and every single person on the planet has a purpose.

    Have you ever seen or heard of Nick Vujicic? http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/inspired.php

    My son and I met him a few years back, and will never forget his testimony. His website has lots of great stuff on it. :)

    Blessings, sister.

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  9. I am wordless too! with joy and happiness. That was beautiful.

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  10. I have been reading a lot of books about the theology of disability. I think when we just institutionalized everyone who wasn't neurotypical... the church forgot these people even existed. It is hard to wrap your brain around a omnipotent, loving God and a disabled child.

    I still don't have answers. The biggest sticking point is that I don't think we still know what it means to be an image-bearer. Whenever it is tied to anything cognitive it leaves some people out.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)