Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reality Check

Sunday morning is here again. I am avoiding church. Why? Because we are in a new town in a new state and I will have to begin visiting congregations to look for a good fit for us and autism and anxiety. I am a wimp. Not ready to take those risks. Of course, my fear of risk taking with church people has a big negative. I'm cutting myself off from people, adults. I'm so tired of being alone, of having no adults to interact with, except "is plastic okay?" from the cashier at the grocery store who wants to know what type of bags I prefer.

Last night, my girl and I went to the community swimming pool. I was quite anxious. I don't want anyone bullying my child, making fun of her. Watching others mistreat her tears my heart and emotions in two. The pain is almost unbearable. Maybe that's why approaching new churches is so hard. The hurt for me is (unbelievably) even greater there when children move away from her to sit somewhere else.

After about a half-hour of quiet at the pool with just a few people who ignored the two of us, a herd of tweens arrived, 30-40 of them. Thank goodness they were too self-absorbed with themselves to notice my girl. My anxiety diminished somewhat, but my emotions stayed high as I experienced feeling left out, experienced the gap between where my daughter is and where her typically developing peers are. Reality check. What a smack in the face. I wasn't ready to go down that road last night.


Susan said...

Yeah, I know what you're going through. Been there, done that, still doing it.

It makes me glad that we have a largish family. My special needs guy can retreat to the confines of his family.

One way that I've found to overcome the whole church issue is to focus on my reason for going. Once I started to realize that I am going to worship God, and to teach my children that worshipping God is important, it is easier to ignore thoughtless others. When I find myself getting stressed, I'll start praying the "Our Father" in my head to help me have compassion and forgive the thoughtlessness of others. It's not foolproof, but it does help.

I'm also very upfront about my son's disability and work hard to ensure that he is not disruptive to others. He stays with us throughout the service (as do all our children) and on hard days we leave as soon as possible after the final blessing.

If I were to continue to look for the people at church to sustain me, I would probably have quit going a long time ago. My attendance is a public admission of my belief in the risen Lord and my hope that He will one day come again. And, my discomfort and all the work required to get my children to attend and learn is a sacrifice devoted to God, in obedience to worshiping Him above all others, including the fellow worshippers who are giving me the disapproving looks.

Go with your daughter and hold your head high. Do what you need to do to help her worship God too. Don't be afraid to be different from your fellow Christians and pray, pray, pray. And I'll pray for you too.

Bekah and Corey said...

I'm sorry, Penny! I just asked God to send both you and your daughter plenty of positive interactions with others in the weeks to come. Hope you're feeling better about your outings soon!

Marcia said...

I can relate to some of your feelings in that two of my four get treated differently because, well, they ARE different. Now they would technically be considered normal. I guess. But one has severe anxiety and she used to nearly collapse if anyone would even speak to her. I can relate to the bursting in your heart feeling that you mentioned the morning at the botanical gardens. I feel that way when Meg speaks to people all on her own. My 3rd is ADD (or ADHD) and sometimes struggles in the area of friends/peers. It was much harder when she was little. We had problems at a church where the nursery worker told me she would have to warn all of the other parents about my daughter. Yeah. We didn't keep going there long after that. Talk about crushing a mama's heart. Anyway, I don't think any of what I said is actually helpful, but (((hugs))) love ya. If you lived here you could go to church with us. We have a few autistic kids & the teachers do well with us. C'mon! What's one more move? :)

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