Monday, November 15, 2010

All the Single Ladies

Wow!! I haven't had a girly-related post for a while. My purely nerdy side has taken over this blog for a while. Not like that's a bad thing :D Anyway, the single women in The Rock/Symbio are dropping like flies. With two weddings and TWO dating pairings of 2 good friends within about two weeks, I'm at that stage where I'm like, "DUDE!!!! EVERYONE'S GETTING MARRIED including EVERYONE YOUNGER THAN ME!!! :O " That's not a bad thing because that means dressing up & hanging out with people I might not get to see every day and of course dance parties when the reception comes. 

I've been wrestling with the marriage question for a while. For much of my college life & even into grad school I assumed at some point I would probably get married. If so, the goal was to somehow attain enough developmental normalcy and get to that point where I could manage issues from my past adaptively enough so that it wouldn't freak out Mr. Whoever and it wouldn't affect the next generation. Well, that whole achieving-developmental-normalcy was completely ripped apart with my diagnosis of PPD-NOS. Suddenly I was like, "Crap!!!!!! I will never be normal even though my HDFS training equips me to develop / participate in interventions that help children and families lead a more normal life. Hm. God, that's ironic, but unfortunately not very funny." I also thought, "Wait, if I struggle with social interactions and other stuff, does that make marriage possible?" According to Dr. Grandin, it's only possible if I married another person on the spectrum since our brains would be more similar. She bases this on interviews with married people who have autism since she herself is not married. According to Donna Williams (author of Nobody Nowhere and a special education teacher / consultant in Australia), it's possible because she's married and has high-functioning autism as well as multiple personality disorder (resulting from extreme physical/verbal abuse as a child) as well as other DSM diagnoses. According to my friends, it's possible if God wills it and whether He chooses me to be married to a person on the spectrum or an NT person, He has His purposes. 

This should close the case, but there is more to consider than just the fact that I officially have an ASD. What was my goal in marriage? It was to go down the expected trajectory of a Christian 20-something woman: Get saved, get involved in college and/or young singles ministry, get married, focus on raising children to know Christ and minister to other families in the same demographic. Much of the women's literature in the Christian world is geared toward married women, and the singles literature (from what I've read) is: be content & learn about God until Mr. Whoever-God-Chooses comes along. Having noticed these patterns, it made sense to conform my life to these expectations. Also, Mom really wants grandkids at some point, and as an only child, I'm her only source for that. Dr. Grandin has several other brothers and sisters, so her parents got grandkids from other sources.  Therefore, she probably didn't have that pressure like I do. In summary, my goal in getting married was to say: I'm following the normative pattern of a Christian woman's life and I'm giving Mom grandkids. I know God would use marriage for His sake and that is something that still excites me, but to be honest, that wasn't my primary motivation. 

Another thing to consider that God helped me understand from Mitch's message yesterday on building intellectual towers for ourselves is this: am I giving up on marriage because I might be bad at it and thus need to build my accomplishments in other areas such as research, a career, getting a PhD, etc? When I realized this, I thought, "Dang." Marriage or singleness with a focus on professional development and/or getting a PhD would not be glorifying to God if the primary motivation behind either one was just to further my own sense of accomplishment. That is humbling. Very humbling. This made me cry, but I needed it. Both the crying and the humbling. Yes, if I stayed single AND got a PhD AND became a professor, I would live a life really similar to Dr. Grandin :D (though I will probably never be as famous as her & that's completely ok!!!) but if I lived for my own accomplishments, how much would I really be allowing God to work through my life to reach academia? Or if I had a career & stuff but lived for that, how much would I rally be allowing God to work through my life to reach my community & workplace? Similarly, if I got married and lived for that I would be in danger making my husband and children live up to the make-Katie-appear-like-she-is-developmentally-adjusted and I would be repeating the same parent-child cycle that I'm still hurting from. 

God, You made my brain, You determined the places I should live in order that I may know You and learn more about You and come alongside You in Your work. For these things and for Your redemptive power and Your ability to teach me more about Yourself and conform me to Your Son (by Your grace) even when it hurts and makes me cry - I am really really really really thankful. So, Thank You for making me realize that my singlness or marriage must firstly be motivated by You and Your glory. My accomplishments either professionally, academically, or developmentally will fade literally a million years from now. But what You do with my life when I have submitted to You will remain. That's humbling and still makes me cry. But God, I just ask You to use me in whatever capacity for Your glory and Your glory and accomplishments alone. I know I will never perfectly submit to You. THANKS FOR SHOWING YOUR FORGIVENESS AND PROPITIATION FOR THAT and a TON of other things on the Cross. Amen :) 

PS: In Heaven, I actually get to give You a hug and that's pretty exciting! :) 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A specialist mind needs a like-minded person

I wrote about the joys of having a specialist mind in an August blog post on this site. Going throughout life these past few months, I've just wanted another like-minded similarly-wired person just to hang with and to share random awesome nerdy stuff with and someone that I didn't have to act normal around. This need to have someone to relate to and someone to go to and lean on has been a void in my life that has never really been filled. I knew I was different in childhood, but I couldn't figure out why. I received support from teachers, relatives, and my mom as a child, but I was also called to be a support to an adult earlier than is developmentally appropriate. 

The lights came on in my head during my quiet time when I was going through Beth Moore's Breaking Free study where she goes over how God can fill the voids in our lives with His unfailing love. In Ephesians 3:19 Paul prays that we would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. According to Moore, the word know in the Greek is ginosko which implies experiential learning of a concept - learning by trial or perception. I pretty much 'eeeked' because I thought: "THIS MEANS THAT PEOPLE THAT ARE VISUAL LEARNERS OR CONCRETE THINKERS LIKE DR. GRANDIN CAN EXPERIENCE GOD'S LOVE!!!!" That was super-awesome to think about because I think it would be way cool if she came to know Christ :) :) 

Then God reminded me: You need to learn this too. Then I was like, "What!?! Oooooooooooh! I get it!" The reason I wasn't getting God as the One to run to / confide in / lean on and who could relate to my crazy brain was because I haven't really experienced it. Until now!!!!! Until He gave me that nerdy thought about experiential learning. During seminars on college teaching in grad school we talked about different learning styles and how students can get concepts using more than one learning style and experiential learning is the best method. God, using this study, revealed that He works in that same way. He understands our own unique learning styles because He has wired our brains in specific ways. For example, I'm an auditory learner, so oftentimes, theological concepts really  click when I hear them integrated into a song. I also get excited when I can compare concepts to HDFS related concepts. God knows what my special interests are at the time (because He's God!!!!!!!!!!) and so He uses them in teaching me things. Creationism has been a long term special-interest within my Christian life, so He uses biological concepts and reminders of Himself as Creator to really root and ground me. 

What does this mean to tie this all together? If all this is true, I no longer have this need to try and find that one earthly mentor that understands my brain and thinking to be my go-to person. God is more than enough. He wired my brain and knows any/all special interests I currently have or ever will have, and He has shown me that He can connect with me in moments where all I can do is jump around and eek or if I go into a meltdown and all I can do is cry. He knows the voids in my life left by my past, and He knows how best to fill them - even more than any attachment specialist or HDFS interventionist. I can stand on this foundation of truth with confidence and seek God to lean on no matter if I have to go to Him for mundane ordinary things or share an ultra-nerdy moment with Him or ask Him for help when my ASD makes functioning difficult. 

Though I have began to get this in fragments, it seems like I got a more complete picture of how this works today. As God teaches this through experiential learning - meaning throughout my life - I will always be learning this at a deeper level and will only truly see it in full in Heaven. It is in that hope that I continue to press on and ask God to teach me more about His love and presence now.