Living like the boy in the bubble (One of life’s little detours)

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.

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