Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How the Greek Orthodox Church Helped A Somewhat Evangelical Christian Mom Deal with Autism

Things have been pretty rough lately. 

I mean, they’re good. 

Therapy is good.  School is good.  Marriage is good.

The Big Three are good. 

Well, kinda. 

They’ve been a little frustrated with autism lately. 

It’s hard putting your little brother first ALL THE TIME.

It’s hard having to pay attention to the environment you’re in, so that you are mindful of what may or may not rock the little guy’s sensory boat, so to speak.

Especially when you’re thirteen.

And especially when you have a pretty dynamic personality.

And especially when your dynamic personality pushes EVERY LITTLE autism button your little brother has. 

Every.  Single.  One.

No one likes to have his or her buttons pushed.

Especially little guys with autism.

When those buttons get pushed our little guy with autism goes into what’s known in the therapy world as “fight or flight.”

Except Davy doesn’t flight.

He fights.

And it hurts.

There’s been a lot of that lately. 

Bless him.  Charlie, especially, just can’t seem to do anything right these days. 
In Davy’s eyes.

And what’s super hard is that he really is doing almost everything right.

He’s trying.  He’s listening.  He’s consistently making an effort to connect with Davy.

And Davy just isn’t having it.

Davy is hard on everybody in the house, for sure. 

I probably get the worst of it.  He feels safe with me, so I get a lot of his angst. 

But I’m his mom.  I can take it.

Charlie shouldn’t have to.

It’s not fair. 

And we’re not quite sure what to do about it.

But last week I received insight into this situation in the most unlikely of places.

A Greek Orthodox Church.

Charlie and I attended a vespers service in a local Greek Orthodox parish.  We went as a part of our homeschool co-op world history study, and also because a close friend recently converted to Orthodoxy.  We thought it would be cool and interesting to check it out a bit.

The whole experience was fascinating and thought provoking…  and foreign. 

I found myself at times watching with wonder, at times trying to understand what in the heck was going on, and at times fighting that old enemy, boredom. 

It was LONG, people.

By the end of the service, I was just so relieved that both my teenaged boy and his buddy managed to hold it together through the whole thing. 

I was wholly unprepared for what came next.

The priest came out again and began to share a few personal words with the parishioners.  He explained why he had chosen a particular Psalm, and how he so identified with it.  And then he went on to say that all the scriptures chosen help him identify with the life and death of Christ.  

In particular, he talked about how he had been falsely accused as of late… and how Jesus was also falsely accused.  Jesus forgave those who accused (and KILLED) him by saying, “Forgive them.  They don’t know what they’re doing.”

And then it dawned on me. 

Charlie is being falsely accused by David. 

I am being falsely accused by David.

We all are being falsely accused by David.

And it hurts.

But the little guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.  He really doesn’t. 

When I remember that, my compassion tank is just a little fuller.  And maybe I’m just a little bit more like Jesus.