Troubling Times

There have been some things troubling me lately. The kinds of things that make me have to think about things differently. Of course there are many worldly troubles that keep coming on seemingly nonstop but I can’t do much about those things other than deal with them when they come up. The things troubling me right now have to deal with the many changes that have come into my life over the past year, beginning with becoming aware of having Asperger’s or Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The awareness alone has allowed me to come to understand it and manage it. Unlike in the past when it just ran rampant through my life and I had no idea what was going on. I’ve learned that the mental breakdown I had about a decade ago that lead to about a decade of chaos in my life, causing me to suffer such terrible anxiety that it nearly caused me to take my life was caused mostly by the obsessiveness that comes with ASD. My main obsessiveness is doing things right. When I lost everything after the last huge recession it was the first time that I couldn’t correct what was happening and because of this it felt like I was being attacked from the inside.

But this isn’t what’s troubling me lately. My relationship with the ASD is much better now. Lately I’ve come to enjoy a journey to again pursue God. I spend a lot of time reading the scriptures and I’ve come to enjoy, amid all the controversy, an online show which is the first ever multi season show on the life of Jesus and the Apostles. Yes, they boldly create backstories that aren’t in the scriptures but, for me, it has made the scriptures more interesting to read. The show is called “The Chosen.”

They stay scripturally sound overall but they do take artistic license to give more life to the characters in the bible. One interesting thing it has given me is a greater interest in the Jews themselves and the lives they lived. I appreciate this very much.

Even beyond this, as I said, I study the scriptures daily and I find that I am seeing things within them that I never saw before. It’s much more clear to me now. I actually spend more time reading the Old Testament than the New Testament because I’ve studied the New Testament much more in my life. The thing I can now see is how it all works together. The difference being in the new law that Jesus gave to us that mainly comes through the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew.

I’ve always loved the Sermon on the Mount. It was what I always based my spirituality on throughout my life. The difference now is that, when I read it, I now see just how seemingly impossible it is to live this law. I think that is the point of the Sermon. It is to mainly say that we can’t do it alone. We need Jesus. We need God the Father in order to do it. Even then we, or I, still fall short. I’ve even come to tears at times reading it simply because I’ve regained my deep love for Jesus and because of this I don’t want to let him down, but when I read the Sermon all I see is how I’ve let him down, or at least not fully abided by the law.

But in the law I can see one come theme. One that others I’ve talked with in the past didn’t seem to see. As a whole it is a unifying statement. It is all about unifying us through Jesus. To not be angry with anyone. To give until it hurts and then give some more. To not be worldly. Basically he allows us to hate one thing and that thing is the world. I have no problem with this aspect mainly because the world won’t accept me anyway. This has always caused me frustration throughout my life. Made me feel lonely and isolated. But, as the Lord said to me recently, I should rejoice in this. I’m not of this world and shouldn’t seek their acceptance. This should make me happy.

He tells it to always forgive others. This was a new interesting insight for me, not the forgiving part but from coming to understand what I’ve said many times in the Lord’s Prayer but never really grasped. If I forgive others then God will forgive me. If I don’t forgive others then God won’t forgive me. For me, this makes forgiving easy. I want to be forgiven so I forgive. Why would I want to stay angry at another person for what they did to me and not be forgiven by God when I want to be forgiven?

It’s hard sometimes to know that only a few will come to understand these seemingly simple things that will allow us to come to be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Most seem to enjoy the darkness and would prefer to not forgive and to be angry with others. But even for myself, am I or will I be one of those few who will come to know the Kingdom of Heaven? I don’t know. I can’t fulfill all the laws that Jesus has laid out, or I do sometimes and not other times. I know that simply remaining in Jesus is the way to get there, even though I fall short. Even so, I don’t know and I’ve found that this keeps me humble.

I’ve learned that judging others is not for me. I’m not to judge others. Therefore, if others are doing things that don’t seem to be in accordance with the law that Jesus laid out, it’s not my place to judge them. Jesus is the only judge. I’m only to love them. To forgive them if they do me harm. To give to them if they ask of me and if they ask to borrow from me then let them borrow from me. If they are my enemy then I’m to love them and do good to them. Yes, all of this seems hard and it is. Yet, it all leads to one thing, unifying us through Jesus.

This is why it is so easy to see that the world is in a very evil state right now. Very few people actually focus on any of these aspects. When they are angry with another they hold a grudge. When another does something harmful to them then don’t forgive but hold onto it as long as they can, always reminding that person of the thing they did, even decades later. They simply don’t let go of things.

They seek their own desires and pleasures even if it comes at a cost to another. Many don’t feel any remorse in doing this and, if the other person becomes angry with them they are so hard that it doesn’t bother them. It is like it is expected so they don’t even care if another person is angry with them. I would say that “hard” is the word that many in the world have become. Their hearts have become hard and, because of this, God has become dead within them. Neitzche was correct that “God is dead.” at the end of the formal Catholic rule of Europe during the Enlightment and with the advent of science becoming the main religion. A religion that focuses solely on human endeavor and perspective while disregarding God’s participation in their lives. Taking credit for what is actually God’s. And this is where we are today.

I was reading the Beatitudes and stopped for a while on the first one. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Just what is “poor in spirit?” What I found in my research is that being poor in spirit is actually coming to realize that one is completely dependent on God. That self exaltation is not a virtue. That everything is Gods. All that is around us. All that is within us and all that is created through us.

Yes, we are in the image of God and because of this we can create. But God is our creator and thus, all we create is His. Yet, most people today take credit for what they do and accomplish in life. In fact, this is a virtue in the world. One can experience this in a simple job interview where they ask a person what they have done and what they can do. While working jobs people seek appreciation for what they have done to motivate them to do more things. If they don’t get praise for their work then they feel they don’t have any purpose or they aren’t appreciated. All the while, all that they have and all that they can give is God’s and only God deserves any praise. This alone should be their purpose, to act in life to glorify and praise God who made all of this possible through their creation. They shouldn’t seek praise from humans but instead praise God who in turn will reward them with what they truly need.

But one thing that came up which troubled me was a conversation I had with an openly gay man. He is a very kind man with a beautiful heart. One of my other coworkers who isn’t gay is going to the Pride parade. She nonchalantly asked if I would want to visit the booth they will set up to sell some crafts. I said that I would like to get out and visit them. When I said this the gay man warned me that it is “Very gay. Lots tassles.”

I thought about it overnight and thought about the Pride parades I’ve seen on TV and felt it wasn’t something I would enjoy. So the next day I went over to tell him that I won’t be coming but I will visit him at his booth at the Farmer’s Market later in the month. I happened to mention the Lord which is something that is natural to me now. This caused him to become very defensive. It opened up a conversation where he told me that he used to think of himself as agnostic but is thinking of becoming an atheist. I pointed out that it isn’t my place to judge him and as I listened to his arguments against religion I couldn’t help but agree with him. Basically he was angry with God because of what Christians have done to him.

So I brought up the Sermon on the Mount. In this I told him of how I have come to tears while reading it because I fall short of what Jesus presented for us. That I can’t do it alone but I can through Jesus. I then said, “Hypothetically, if your way of life is a sin then I’m just as much a sinner as you are, the only difference is that I live through Jesus and His grace and forgiveness.”

This statement that I made would cause many Christians to become upset. Many simply don’t accept homosexuals based on what Paul said about their not being able to know the kingdom of heaven and, because of this, they judge these people as being immoral and even disgusting. Yet, for me, this is not my place. It is not my place to judge this person nor is it my place to change him. It is only my place to love him as he is. Jesus is the only one who can judge him.

Why did this trouble me? Because it broke my heart to see him going further away from Jesus and his love because of the perspective of Jesus that some Christians have given to him through their hate disguised as love and concern for him. I found out later from one of his friends that his parents, both very religious, had disowned him for his way of life. As I listened to his anger toward God and his desire to leave the presence of God completely without truly understanding and knowing God, tears filled my eyes.

I didn’t pursue him. I stopped there. I will still go and visit him at his booth at the Farmer’s Market and I will enjoy his beautiful heart as it is and love him for who he is because this is what Jesus asks me to do and also because it is in my heart to do this for any person in any situation.

This is how I’ve changed since I came again to pursue God and how everything has changed for me. Yes, the world still caused me trouble but now the Lord makes me face it rather than run away or isolate myself away from it. It’s hard but it’s easier now that I’m aware of my ASD. Even this, which I don’t necessarily call a “disorder,” is a gift from God and makes me who I am.