Fisher’s of Men

Last week I couldn’t resist clicking on the Yahoo! post promising to list the 10 most dangerous jobs. Particularly intriguing was the note in the teaser that the most dangerous job also paid the least amount of money. Wow, if that isn’t an unfair situation!

When I discovered that this very underappreciated job was fisherman, I wasn’t terribly surprised – I had heard that statistic before, about fishing being one of the most dangerous jobs.

But what really got to me is the fact that Jesus promises his followers that he will make them “fishers of men.”

When I think of fishing, I think of a quiet time on a calm lake in a little aluminum fishing boat with a few of my favorite people, just holding a line over the boat and trying not to lose to much bait while at the same time hoping to catch at least one keeper crappie before the sun sets.

I guess introducing people to Jesus can be like that some days. But I think he wanted us to think more along the lines of the commercial fisherman, who risk life and limb to tell people (catch fish), who really don’t want to know at the time. And not only is the audience often not interested at first, there are many powers arrayed against our work.

I am thankful that He is making me into something, and that He promises to hold me when the sharks bite!

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Do people with Asperger’s Syndrome know right from wrong?

I would give a resounding, yes, to that. Now, people with Asperger’s Syndrome do not understand all of the little cultural nuances of what is right and wrong in every little social interaction. For instance, I had to be told not to discuss fishing during a Easter dinner when I was old enough that most children my age would have known better.

And it does take children with Asperger’s longer to realize that adults feel physical pain just like them. To all children, adults are seen at first as these amazing individuals who are impervious to any hardship. But most children realize early on that adults, though hardy, do still feel pain when jabbed in the side with an elbow. An elementary child with Asperger’s has to be told this, since they still believe that the adult will react to them as he or she did when the child was a toddler when the child, now much larger decides to jump on their leg.

So why do children with Asperger’s Syndrome (and some adults, too) cause terrible pain or damamge to someone or something, even after they are told not to do something like that, even after they know that what they are doing is going to cause pain? Often, in the moment, they believe that that person or thing has offended them in such a way as to warrant such behavior.

The problem for people with Asperger’s Syndrome is that they do not have the ability to regulate their emotions like a typical person does. People with Apserger’s Syndrome are often fine, or furious; happy or depressed. There is no, “I am happy, but I can feel that I am starting to feel a bit unhappy, what should I do about it.”

Anyone who feels furious has a difficult time thinking clearly. But neurotypical people have time to think about what they might do, should their growing feelings of anger become fury. An Aspergian, doesn’t have that time. What I have had to learn to do is manage myself, even in the midst of great fury. As my family can attest, I have not always handled myself well, but I am getting better.

Basically, when I start feeling furious, I have to try to get myself to think about what is going on: why am I furious, is it reasonable that I feel furious, how can I deal with this situation constructively? Sometimes that means that I will tell my children to go to their rooms until I can calm down and figure out what needs to be done next. Sometimes I excuse myself to the bathroom or to a quiet place to read, if my husband is home and can manage things for a bit.

I am glad that the research out there is helping to give kids with ASD a break. Because when they are preschool age and younger, they really don’t realize what is right and what is wrong, often. However, I want people to know that the child may have known that they were doing something wrong, so help them find other ways to handle it, don’t just assume that they didn’t know what they were doing. They are smart enough to use that as an excuse to cause trouble, and they won’t learn how to handle things properly, causing them great trouble when they are adults.

Asperger’s and Pain

So often I have read that people with Asperger’s Syndrome, and other ASDs do not respond correctly to pain. It is true that we do not respond typically to pain. It is often assumed that we must not feel pain at the same level that others feel it. We definitely do have a different way of integrating our senses than others. But the thought that we do not feel pain as strongly as others, I believe to be untrue.

Here is what is really going on (at least for me, my son and other biological relatives of mine who do  not think they have an ASD, but probably do). We sense the pain, but we do not want anyone else to know that we are sensing it. To let someone know means that they will start asking questions, and they may start pressuring us to treat our pain. We fear the treatment, because it may involve  even more pain, and there is often no 100% guarantee that the treatment will treat the pain. There is often a tiny percent possibility that the pain may actually become worse, or that even if the pain goes away, some other horrible side-effect will remain.

We have seen how life can work, we are generally not optimists, so we assume that the worst will happen to us. Therefore, we would rather stick with the current known pain and its familiar circumstances than trade it for a lot of unknown circumstances, that could include a lot of social interactions with a lot of unknown people in a lot of unknown places that could result in even more pain and unknown complications.

This is my Father’s world

While driving home from vacation this past weekend, it really struck me how we US citizens really are newcomers and usurpers of this land we call America. I have known this since studying American history in 5th grade – I loved how our teacher had us play quizbo to study for tests. She would divide us up into teams of four or five kids, so that must have been 6 or 7 teams since there were always around 33 of us in a class. Then we would spend one class period writing questions from our textbook on slips of paper. The next class period, our teacher would read the questions. Teams would compete against each other – the details on how that all went fail me now, but the team with the most correct answers at the end of the game, won.

I have read a lot of novels set in the days of westward expansion, and devoured many a National Geographic detailing archaelogic finds of Native American sites dating back thousands of years. But there was still always this sense of, “Manifest Destiny,” I guess. Though I was always horrified when confronted with what we did to the Native Americans to get this land, I never felt an immediate sense of the reality of the situation. Everything was still just head knowledge.

Until driving across Wisconsin on Interstate 94, Sunday, July 11 at about 2 pm. First there’s, Milwaukee, then Pewaukee, which reminded me of Waukesha, and farther east, a sign for Wausau. “I wonder what, “wau,” means in whatever Native American language was spoken here,” I thought aloud. “It sure must be important since it is so common.”

My husband thought that maybe it meant, “water,” sort of like, “minne” means water in Minnesota. Let me go check that out – be back in a moment. OK, so it seems that since the Chippewa who lived in the area had an oral, not written language, when white folks tried to write down Chippewa words, they didn’t always catch all of the nuances of the language, so, “wau,” ended up being used a lot. The words that it is used in often have very disparate meanings.

But seeing so many names of places that obviously hearkened back to a different people’s tougue really brought home how we are now living on lands that once held a very different people with a very different lifestyle.

Why God allowed us to take this land, I cannot say. I am sure He was not happy with how everything happened. I do know that he wanted the peoples here to learn of him, but many things happened that I am sure broke his heart.

It reminded me that I am only here, living life as I know it because He has allowed it to be so. The United States of America is just one of many sovereign nations that has ruled this little patch of land currently called Minnesota and Wisconsin, but God is the ultimate ruler and decides who rules what, when. I wonder if he will decide that it is time for us to be overthrown? If we strive for true equality, as God sees equality, would he have mercy on us?

This reminded me of Jesus words when he said that His kingdom is not of this earth. I am so glad for the current comforts we enjoy in America, but if they were to end, I would be bummed, but am thankful that I don’t have to worry about my soul – since it is included in His kingdom. I hope yours is, too!