TGIF? How about TGIM…

Fridays on facebook, I always see a bunch of posts about how glad people are that it’s the weekend, TGIF, etc…  But truthfully, weekends are always a challenge for us. There is not the same structure as the boys have at school, and they both (Wickett in particular) thrive on structure.

People often ask us what our plans are for the weekend, and a typical response is, “To make it through until Monday morning.” This is mostly a joke, but there is certainly an element of truth to it. We are somewhat limited in what we can do with the boys due to many factors (behavioral issues, finances, lack of appropriate things to do nearby, etc.), so we often feel like we’re scrambling and struggling just to keep them from beating the crap out of each other and destroying the house.

Not trying to get all “poor us,” but just being honest about how the weekends can be rough. We love having the time with the boys, but weekends like this one where weather will likely keep us indoors a lot, well…send prayers. 🙂

When “Loving the Sinner” is Not Enough

I have thought about this issue and written versions of it in my head countless times over the past couple of years but haven’t done anything with it until now. But I just read another online article about an LGBT teenager who committed suicide after being bullied post-coming out. I need to write this NOW. I need to get this out there NOW. Things need to change NOW.

I have friends who are conservative Christians who have contacted me very respectfully on the issue of marriage equality. I want to say right off the bat that I appreciate that they are interested in dialoguing about this issue, and that they chose to reach out to me. I hope that my response will be respectful as well, even though we disagree.

The main issue at stake is that these friends of mine have indicated that they are really bothered and offended by the accusation that because they support “traditional” marriage, this means that they automatically hate gay people. They were also offended by the fact that some articles surrounding the Chik-fil-a/Dan Cathy issue (financial donations to organizations that are “pro-family”) referenced the CFA issue alongside hate crimes.

I have thought about a number of different ways to respond to what has been brought to the table. I thought about engaging in a discussion about scripture, and how/why I do not believe that the Bible actually condemns homosexuality (for an excellent resource, check out www.matthewvines.com). But ultimately, that discussion will never really result in mutual understanding because from previous discussion I know that these friends and I have differing interpretations of the Bible. So I won’t waste time and energy on that front…although I am happy to discuss it further with anyone who is interested!  Feel free to contact me privately.

Regarding marriage equality, think about it as a civil rights issue. By supporting marriage equality, no rights are being taken away from people who support “traditional” marriage. But by standing against marriage equality, ultimately what is happening is that people are taking their religious beliefs and legislating with them. It’s turning one’s religious beliefs into law, when there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. Denying rights to a group of people based on a particular characteristic of theirs when that same right is afforded to other people is unethical and illegal, in my opinion. Yes, you have the freedom to believe that homosexuality is wrong. You have the freedom to worship how you choose. You hae the freedom to donate money to whatever causes you choose. But I do not believe that you should have the opportunity to impose those beliefs on others in the form of legislation.

But it goes much deeper than just marriage equality. The problem extends beyond marriage, and this is where the real danger lies in my opinion.  By denying a group of people a right that is afforded to others (such as gay people having the right to marry), it is sending the message to them and to the rest of society that they are “less than” the group that has that right. That they are not as worthy, not “right,” etc. So when society (and the LAW) are supporting this sort of discrimination, it is essentially giving people the freedom to treat that group as such…less than, less worthy, less right. This is when bullying happens. This is when suicide happens. This is when hate crimes happen. This is when deaths like Matthew Shepard’s happen.  The LGBT community has been set up to be subordinate, so some people feel justified in their hatred and justified in their bullying and violence.  And it is NOT okay. And the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality contributes as well. How are you truly loving someone when you are telling them every day that they are less? That they are wrong? Merely “tolerating” or even “accepting” homosexuality implies that there is something less-than-desirable to be tolerated or accepted. So even churches that profess to “accept” people who are gay while still professing that homosexuality is a sin, even those churches (although it’s preferable to the alternatives like Westboro Baptist…) are telling gay people that who they are at their core is WRONG.

So to my friends who say that they support traditional marriage but profess not to “hate” gay people, I just encourage you fully, deeply, truly, and honestly examine what that belief system is supporting.  I agree that there are people who are pro-marriage equality who have been ugly in their response to traditional marriage supporters…and there is no excuse for that. It’s incredibly unfortunate that they have allowed their hurt and anger to lead to that sort of disrespect. But the sense of discrimination that has plagued the LGBT community for so long HAS. TO. STOP. The bullying, the ostracizing, the hate, the violence, and just the simple act of denying rights that are afforded to heterosexuals.

And to all of you, thank you for keeping me honest, for encouraging me to examine my own beliefs and to articulate them.  I appreciate the opportunity.

Namaste. And God bless.

Welcome to Holland

The original title of this blog was “Loving Holland,” and I want to explain why. The following essay was written by Emily Kingsley.  I find it to be the heart of what we are trying to figure out on this new journey, and I re-read it often when I find that tailspin heading out to sea.

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!” you say. “What do you mean, Holland?” I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

This journey we are on

Over the past two and a half years, I have started this blog several times. But I never published. Perhaps it felt too “close,” too personal, too soon, too…something. But I suppose enough time has passed where I have some perspective and feel ready. Well, as ready as possible.

Blogging started out as a way to help me process through the challenges I was facing, and in reading others’ blogs I realize that there can be much comfort in knowing that other people are facing the same challenges. So I hope that by sharing my stories, perhaps some of you will be comforted…or at least I will have made you laugh.  🙂

This blog started out as a “parenting-on-the-autism-spectrum” blog, but I have realized that there is much more I feel the need to process. So this blog will be a bit of parenting, a bit of autism, a bit of faith, a bit of sustainable living, and more thrown in. But here is the first blog entry I made (January 4th, 2011) but never posted:

‘On August 25th 2010, our son was diagnosed with mild/high-functioning autism.

It has been just over 4 months since the official diagnosis.

But it has been longer since we suspected it, since I worried about it and felt inadequate and helpless, since I felt him slipping further away from me and yet powerless to stop it.

But now we know.  The diagnosis is heartbreaking and validating and anxiety-inducing and a relief all at the same time.  No one ever wants to have to hear that about her child, but it is the diagnosis that is now making it possible for us to get him the help he needs…the same diagnosis that has sent me into a tailspin, grasping at the grief process and trying to navigate this new territory.  Without a map.  Without a guide book.  Away from family.

I understand logically that the diagnosis is ultimately a good thing, but my heart is just taking awhile to catch up to my head.  And that’s a lot of what this blog is about.  The heart divide.  My head and heart rarely truly being in the same place but working towards that synthesis.

I can’t promise that it will always be uplifting and inspiring…but I promise it will always be honest.”