Finding the feminine image of God in the Bible and in women.

Archive Tag:Asperger’s

The Divine Task of Parenthood

Having babies is like starting your own fan club. But then sometimes when kids get older, they start to question us, like believers question Mother God as they get older in faith.

Marshall is that age where we get critiqued regularly.  He says, “I feel like an intruder lately.” He wonders if we love his new brother more than we love him. He wonders if we no longer adore him, now that he isn’t a baby and included in that mutual adoration club.

He’s right that we don’t love him in the exact same way as his brother who is fourteen months old. In some ways the love I have for Marshall has stronger, deeper roots due to more time, nine years vs. 14 months. In other ways, the love I have for him is like offering vegetables when a child wants brownies. It’s not sweet enough.

It stings. It’s hard for me to admit that I treat Sam with warmth because mostly what I get from him is positive, and I struggle to treat Marshall the same way when he calls me names and criticizes me. (He is repeating the behaviors of the bully, but it’s still hard to take).

Yet, Marshall scarcely even knows what he is saying, or its impact on us emotionally. Asperkids, at least sometimes, lack a “theory of mind.” They don’t fully realize others have a mind separate from their own. It makes these kids and adults seem egocentric.

John Elder Robinson, who wrote Look Me in the Eye, says he will sometimes walk into a party, go straight to the television, and turn it off, because it bothers him. He forgets to think about the fact that someone may be watching it. But he means well.

For Marshall, when he calls us “creep” and “jerk,” he is stating a fact. That this fact-naming might make him less immediately lovable never occurs to him. Our voice tone changing into irritation is inexplicable. One of us leaving the room suddenly to try to cope feels like rejection. We are learning to do the superhuman feat of staying cheerful in all situations or Marshall’s feeling of rejection is only intensified.

Marshall wants to stay connected in the same way Sam naturally is by being dependent, vulnerable and cute (like Marshall was at fourteen months old). He wants baby-cradling, but at 4 foot 6 inches, it just isn’t happening much, despite our good intentions.

And now all the anger and hurt within him is expanding into a universe, creating someone we don’t know.

Suddenly we parents are not adored anymore.

But the real divine task of parenthood is to always reach out; to be Jesus of the one lost sheep; to never give up; to, like El Shaddai, be ready with new mercies every day, and with an open heart that can heal, and be hurt again.

Jesus spoke the truth to people about sin (including sin toward children), but in the end, his final word was forgiveness—because “they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus took their perspective, and he could forgive.

The truth is all of us have difficulty seeing from others’ point of view. Parents may have this problem even more than people with Asperger’s. But that is key in being a good mom or dad, especially to a child who is often misunderstood, and another child who can’t yet speak for himself.

We’re all children inside, seen inaccurately, and without the right words, sometimes. We criticize Mother God when we’re really asking for love and protection and for Her to understand us.

And we’re always in need of the kind of forgiveness that sees our hearts and stays open, the kind She gives every day–even when we don’t adore Her like we once did.

The Perspectives of Love

Marshall flopped on the floor of the psychologist’s office, playing with one of those sensory pin toys that make the shape of your hand. He was explaining to her why he hates people: “They have destroyed so many animal habitats.” She nodded—she loves animals, too—and asked, “Is there any one you don’t hate?”

Marshall then climbed up into my lap, all 83 pounds, 4 and a half feet and I gave him a long hug. I was the Good Mama.

But at the end of the session, he accidentally hit his head on the side of the door. Then he came back into the room and hit me, with threats quoted directly from the older girl who bullied him.

I try to stay half in denial about Marshall’s new self, affected by trauma. The other half of me, at least, has to enter his world and see what he sees. And occasionally kick a demon out.

This is the Mama-Jesus-Task—walking scary roads together, never abandoning, always beckoning.

The Reign of God Starts with our Parenting

Jesus said John the Baptist was “the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14). The second Elijah, John, was to “turn the hearts of the parents to their children” (Mal. 4:5,6; Luke 1:17).

Repentance and the reign of God is at least partly about children, in their worst moments, the times we most want to turn away or to threaten to withdraw our love. To really repent is to love our children with open hearts even when we’re in pain, and to stop the control-through-fear, the manipulation, the verbal or physical abuse. It’s to choose to see from our children’s perspective.

I’ve never heard a sermon on this verse, yet if John was the greatest human in history (Matt. 11:11), in Jesus’ estimation, then we need to listen. I need to listen.

There are so many components to love, like a big Lego heart. The funny thing is, I’m not aware of having learned love from God, like the part of love that sees from the other person’s perspective.

Yet I believe Mother God sees life through my eyes; I think Mother God understands me. This is where I feel safe. If I thought Mother God would only argue with me about anything I said, I would never speak.

Arguing is the easy place to parent from. I have nearly reduced my interactions with Marshall to asking him to get off the computer so he can interact with us. He almost always say, “No.” The computer is now his friend, his safe place. I see it as an enemy.

The only thing that will put the pieces of our lives together is love, which will mean going deeper and deeper into his world and helping him sort it out together. That means I quit trying to control him and see what is important to him and why.

The Perspective of Grace

Yesterday, Joel had a moment of grace for Marshall, one I usually don’t. Marshall has taken to walking away from the house lately when he feels rejected. He and Joel were both in bare feet. Joel followed him down the street and said, “Can I come with you?”

Marshall looked back gratefully and said, “Yes,” and then began to tell Joel what a bad parent he was.

But by the time I saw them, outside, they were walking together toward home, smiling, side by side.

This is the metaphor for our parenting of our wounded Asper-boy. Don’t try to get him to change; go with him into his own choices and back out again. It is the safety of unconditional love that changes us.

This is also a metaphor for Mother God’s parenting. She doesn’t shout stern commands to come home; she follows us where we choose.

She never leaves no matter where we choose to go—the office, the pub, the bus stop or the Internet. And she loves us unrelentingly, loves us all the way home.