From time to time it is good to take a diversion away from all this theological stuff and do a bit more getting to know you stuff.
Those who know me well would describe me as a bit of a hermit. Even those who have shared a house with me would say I tend to be a little insulated and emotionally distant. Don’t get me wrong, if someone pushes my buttons the right way, (or the wrong way) I can be quite vocal. In saying this we all have a thresh hold where we say okay its time to speak out. This isn’t about that I am just saying that introverted and insulated people also have those moments where enough is enough.
So what do I mean about living like the boy in the bubble? Well there is a story about a boy who was born without immunity to all the general microbes and germs that most of us are immune to. He apparently lived his whole life in a large sterile plastic bubble and not even his parents or family could touch him physically. However if you google this you will find there is some truth to this story as well as a fair amount of urban myth that evolved along with it.
How does this relate to me you may ask? I guess to answer that I have to go back to my childhood before I converted to Christianity. As a small child I was generally happy to play on my own although I gave my mother a lot of grief because I had a tendency to wander off from our home and roam the streets. Mom would come and retrieve me from where ever it was I ended up and drag me home only to have me disappear a little while later. I had ways of escaping under fences until I learned to climb over fences. I have often wondered why mom just didn’t tie me up sometimes, it was the 1960’s people got away with that kind of thing in those days.
After I began school I was happy to mix with the other kids but I always felt like an outsider. More often than not some of the children would attach themselves to me although I was fairly oblivious of the need to feel the same kind of attachment. By this time my family had moved from the city to a small mining community that allowed me a lot more freedom to roam, which I did frequently. Mostly it was me and my dog.
Some would think this is a fairly ideal situation, lots of freedom, small town, and in most cases easy to find because I had a fairly predictable pattern. The problem with this is that I was overly trusting and naive when it came to people. In fact I really didn’t get people they were somehow like insects, I watched them interact and thought they were funny. I didn’t see how this related to me personally and it never really occurred to me that I was personally part of the whole human interaction. I was even puzzled sometimes as to why others were interested in me….. No offense to them but I wasn’t overly interested in them at the time. I did understand that I was reliant on the adults for my own survival so I guess I got that much.
I can recall a few of my relatives thought they could say stuff to me and I would just believe them. One of my aunts used to tell me she was a witch. another one of my older cousins used to play mind games with me although I just thought she was nasty. I did used to play along so although I was fairly naive I knew my aunt wasn’t a witch and couldn’t turn me into a goat. It was all just pretend. The thing is at that age a child can know when someone is pulling their leg but they don’t know how say it; I just used to think “You’re an idiot!
Another thing that was different when I was a child was that the education system had a one model fits all perspective. If you haven’t picked up on the clues, I come in at the milder end of the autism spectrum with what has been called Asperger Syndrome. Of course when I was at school I had a supposed learning difficulty. A clear example of this was a teacher asking me in class one day if I could read, to which I replied “Yes! I could read quite well but the teacher asked a question not made a request. The teacher should have said “Christopher I want you to read aloud from the book we are looking at”. Oddly enough I could read and spell better than most of the children in my class. The fact that I wrote in my school books should have been a fairly obvious clue that I had some idea about the English language. One other little anecdote; the picture cue cards that had the name of the objects under them should correctly reflect what that object is! A picture of a log with twig written under it does not make a LOG a TWIG! One other thing, we used to have these self paced modules in some of our classes I never got very far with those because I was too busy debating in my head what was wrong with some of them. The one that sticks in my head was a science module that asked a question about gravity, does I feather fall to the ground at the same rate a cannon ball when dropped and will they hit the ground at the same time? In most cases when objects of two different weights are dropped they will hit the ground at the same time however one has to take into account aerodynamic. A bird feather is designed to float and when dropped will eventually fall to the ground. It may fall to the ground in vacuum at the same rate as a cannon ball but if dropped from a building it wont! Apparently my answer was wrong even though Einstein proved I was right. I hope the education system has learned something from its past mistakes.
After I became a Christian at age 14 something changed for me. I began to seriously question how I viewed the world and how it related to me. I still wasn’t sure how I fitted into the big picture or of I should, but I did start to question my reality. Where people were concerned I began to question our nature. Could I trust myself of others? The bible talks about having discernment. In some places it talks about the gift of discernment. At one time It was like suddenly peering into peoples souls and wondering why the things they were saying were some how out of sink with the person themselves. Other times it was like they were too good to be true. I couldn’t always fathom why this was the case but it became instinctive. I am not saying I could read peoples hearts, I am not God only God knows the heart. I think it had more to do with the fact that the bible says the heart is inherently wicked or fallen. Human’s can’t be trusted.
Where I was once very trusting, almost to the point of being oblivious of peoples motivations, I became almost too acutely aware of what people were like. I am not saying that this made me paranoid or mistrusting of everyone. Generally I still took people as I found them, I didn’t over analyse others. Where I did form a bond with someone I admit that I would some times look at them through rose coloured glasses. I still do that today.
I think what has changed for me since my conversion is that I don’t see myself as an outsider looking in anymore. I am a participant in this experience we call life, I still struggle to understand certain facets or rituals that are part of being human and I still tend to depersonalize what I am observing in other people’s interactions. At least now I understand why people do what they do.
In some ways I still live in that bubble because I have trouble personalizing my own interactions with others or I should say personalizing others interactions with me. I know when I am being criticized or complemented although I am not always sure how I am supposed to respond those things. I think what I often do is go into information mode where I overload people with data which is not always a relevant response. If someone tells you they love you it isn’t always appropriate to reply with an explanation about how chemicals in the brain form the experience of being in love with another person. It is less important that this phenomenon called falling in love is a chemical response to a human interaction than the experience of falling in love itself. It gets complicated sometimes.
What I will finish off with is the assurance that through the grace of God and through His mercy every now and then these complicated things do fall into place for me. You could say I was born with a heart of stone but God changed it to a heart of living flesh. He can do that for you also.