Showing posts with label rejection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rejection. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

Being Avoided Is Discouraging

It should not need to be said that being avoided is discouraging, but when it comes to exposing the core reason why Aspies usually don't find a church where they feel comfortable, this needs attention.

Most Aspie Christians stay with a church for a few years and just tolerate it with hopes that it will get better. It never does. They seek counseling sessions with the Pastor to express how lonely they feel in the church. The typical response is, "people avoid you because they sense that you don't feel comfortable being around others." Notice it's not said, "you avoid people because you sense that they don't feel comfortable around you."

Both of these statements are true:
  • "I avoid people because I sense that they don't feel comfortable around me."
  • "People avoid me because they sense that I don't feel comfortable around them."
But only one is the symptom and the other is the cause. By the end of this post, it will be apparent which one is which.

The question is, "Who does God expect to create the atmosphere of comfort? The newcomer or the established group? The established group has the support network. The newcomer does not.

The established group shares the same philosophy that wrongly justifies for each member a reason to avoid the newcomer. Since none of them feel comfortable with the newcomer, all will blame the newcomer. They presumptuously believe the newcomer should feel comfortable with them since they're all comfortable with each other. This eases their guilt.

Just because some newcomers may feel comfortable doesn't mean every newcomer does. Those who are uncomfortable arrive in this condition because of reasons unknown to the congregation. Each new congregation can easily exasperate this problem.

A clique will expect their discomfort from the newcomer's presence to diminish at a much faster pace than realistically possible for the newcomer to acquire comfort.

Being in a comfortably established in a group is nothing like being the outsider. Awkwardness is going to be far more long lasting for the newcomer.

The longer someone has been an outsider, the more established his or her discomfort around strangers will be.

As time goes on, the level of discomfort the newcomer feels from being around another clique increases. This is inevitable due to the unequal balance of intensity in discomfort.

Using the analogy of an abused dog, most people would not hold the same expectation for a dog that's been socialized as a puppy in a proper environment versus one which has not.

A church group cannot judge what effect past experiences have had on a newcomer. Nor are they fit to make any judgments on how quickly the newcomer should stop feeling uncomfortable around them.

People do what they do because they can. They can when they're united. An isolated individual is as vulnerable as an animal separated from the herd.

Animals will turn against their own kind, when it's too different. It's natural for people to like those like themselves. The more different and awkward a newcomer is, the more likely discomfort will increase in the atmosphere of his (or her) presence.

The congregation thinks, "We're not uncomfortable around others. You're the one who's uncomfortable around others, so it's your fault we feel this way." This becomes more apparent during the coffee hour after the service.

Initially, "mingle time" appears to go well. But it doesn't take long before the spark of mingle time dies out. Once this happens, it becomes undeniably obvious to the newcomer he (or she) is not going to ever fit in. In fact, the longer the newcomer tries to blend, the more awkward he (or she) will feel over time because of it.

This vicious cycle the newcomer repeats with each new church only serves to make it more unlikely he (or she) will fit in with the next new church. No church will know this is what such people go through because their acceptance is established and no newcomer dares to tell any church this is the guaranteed pattern, especially knowing how much more uncomfortable he'd (or she'd) feel if he (or she) gave any hint of thinking that the church wasn't so Christian after all in their love for their brother (or sister) in Christ.

For the churches who may think they're the exception, there's the "ask for a prayer partner" test. The buck stops at the pastor and the excuses vary:
"There are Christians in the Middle East who have to live without having another Christian in their life," "Someone in your group will be your prayer partner." (Ask me months later who it is and I'll say, "I forgot. I'll let you know later, when I remember." Later never comes.), etc. 
Generally speaking, the end result remains the same. No prayer partner.

An outsider often times end up perceiving Hebrews 10:25 differently than those settled within a congregation. "Don't neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some. Encourage one another." The second half explains the first. To encourage is to comfort. When you've got Christians avoiding you because they sense you don't feel comfortable being around them, these Christians will only provide you with discouragement. This is what being avoided does. Just because a congregation gathers doesn't mean it is meeting together with the entire body.

It's easy for people to say someone who stops going to church is sinning by doing so. It takes humility for someone established within a congregation to consider himself (or herself) as possibly practicing sin by not developing the habit of encouraging a newcomer's presence long enough for him (or her) to overcome his (or her) discomfort over being around "the regulars."

Newcomers don't normally leave people who encourage them. They usually leave because they're discouraged. The congregation isn't discouraged by his (or her) quitting attendance. If they were, they'd be trying to encourage the one who left to come back. This same principle applies to couples who break up. Someone who's relieved by a relationship breaking up doesn't continue trying to make it work.

If newcomers lacked the desire to fellowship with other Christians, they wouldn't be in the habit of trying to find a church where they feel wanted. However, any habit that goes unrewarded over a long period of time will eventually become extinct.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Risk Aspies Face With Church Fellowship

The risk Aspies face with church fellowship need to be realized and respected by neurotypical Christians. This means accepting the decisions Christian Aspies make in regard to church attendance. Most Christian Aspies never find a church where fellowship is a healthy experience for them.

Typical advice to Aspies is, “Be the best you can be.” This reveals the ignorance of knowing most adult Aspies already are being the best they can be. Sadly, that’s not good enough. What’s also unknown by almost all NTs is how dangerous it can be for Aspies to keep trying to be someone they are not. Tony Attwood knows how important it is for Aspies to be true to who they really are, but Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen does not. If he did, he would not say, “More detailed studies are needed…”

This Asperger Ministry wants to encourage Aspies to be the best they can be. This means embrace being different, accept being out of sync with the rest of the world, and don’t expect most NTs to welcome this approach. What’s the risk of not doing so? Suicidal thoughts are 1,000% more likely in adults with Asperger’s.

If Ryo and Craig did this, they probably would not have committed suicide. Caroline (Ryo’s NT mother) would not have been as motivated to explain about Asperger’s and help people understand how different it is from what most of us are used to; how differently people with Asperger’s see and experience the world. Fran (Craig’s NT mother) might have understood how Craig’s “therapy” fueled his suicidal tendency.

Susan said, “Throughout Craig’s life he made herculean, minute-by-minute efforts to become or at least appear normal.” What maybe no one else knows is that he did this because of being warned by one of his therapists, “Being around someone who accepts you as you are ‘messes up’ your therapy.” Ironically, it was when Craig was with someone who accepted him as he was, who he didn’t feel like a failure with, and who genuinely welcomed his company, he removed himself from that environment because of believing his NT therapist more than his Aspie friend who warned him about trying to be somebody he’s not.

Craig once said, “If I don’t receive the approval in gestures when I’m around others in a social environment, then I feel like a complete failure until I remove myself from that environment.” Who could make him feel more like a failure than his therapists? But yet he kept going back to the therapists. The more he went to the ‘mental health’ environment, the worse he got. Going to church can have this same depressing effect.

Ryo’s mother Caroline said, “Maybe if Ryo experienced [your] Christian faith, he would not have committed suicide.” That’s probably true, but having Christian faith doesn’t necessarily mean church fellowship would have been good for him. Ryo needed to be understood; not judged.

Chris says people with AS tend to get very drained by socializing, since it draws on so much of their mental resources. A 46 yr-old Christian Aspie man says we Aspies spend most of our life being judged and misunderstood by NTs. It’s why Aspie Samantha is at her best in the alcove of solitude.

As for other Aspies…

Jenfrog says all her "heathen" friends at work have always been much more tolerant and accepting of her differences than anyone at three different churches has been. She also says no one has been as hurtful to her in her entire life as church people. She’s darn sure that she won't be trusting them with personal information, seeking to build relationships, or foolishly giving too much of herself again. She has seen these things happen with many other people, as well.

Rachel says she sees the looks when she stands off by herself—(thou shalt not interact unless thou art commanded to come)—but her interpretation skills can be a little off, so that group of women at church she sees as a minefield might actually want me to come and chat. Seriously? This is making friends? You can’t kid her.

Lynne says to this day [Sep 29, 2009], she has found very few "religious" people who have truly embodied the beliefs they espoused.  And, she can honestly say, that many of the worst things that have ever been done to her or to people she cared about, have been done by people who professed to be "religious."

Brant Hansen, a host on Christian radio, says his Asperger's syndrome makes him feel like an alien at church. He has grown up in churches and is a Christian. He states, “Feeling out of place at work is one thing. Feeling like an alien at church is a whole other matter. Imagine Mr. Spock at an evangelical Christian tent revival, and you’ll get the idea. And my father is a pastor, so I was in church a lot… It’s true, though, others won’t understand me. I know that. I’m still an alien in the American Christian subculture. Each evening I retreat from it, and I go straight to the Gospels. It's not out of duty that I read about Jesus; it's a respite. I long for it, because I'm awash in two strange and baffling cultures, both the irreligious and religious. And I long for someone I can finally understand, and someone who might finally understand me.”

NT Stephanie, when describing her Aspie daughter’s church experience says, “The most common stumbling block is a negative experience with Christians. Aspies usually want to have contact and relationships with others… Many individuals with Asperger’s believe that, since their schools, jobs or peers had rejected them or made fun of them, surely the church will be a place to find solace and understanding. After all, the Bible commands us to love God, to love people and to follow the golden rule. This sounds like a welcome refuge to individuals who are often socially rejected, misunderstood and ostracized. But too many times, Aspies experience the same rejection in the church.”

Rejection may not appear immediately. TheatreAS was blown away on his first day visiting a new church. People were genuinely interested in him, started conversations with him, and he became part of the group. This never happened to him before. His assessment is limited to one worship service. A congregation may be curious about him when he first arrives, but the reality is this interest almost always fades away after judgments are made.

NT Steve says churches are to identify the gifts, strengths, and talents of Aspies; then offer them opportunities to use them serving in the church. He does not say what Aspies are to do when churches will not acknowledge their gifts, strengths, or talents.

A pastor says his congregation watches his teenage Aspie son. Most do not understand him, but have learned how to “take” him now and be very “sympathetic.” Tolerance with sympathy shows no appreciation for gifts, strengths, or talents. Does the Bible say, “Because I am not neurotypical, I am not a part of the body?” The Bible does not say that, but the way congregations fellowship does.
read more "The Risk Aspies Face With Church Fellowship"

Friday, February 13, 2015

Judgmental Congregation

Church surveys consistently reveal the greatest need in the body of Christ is acceptance, fellowship, and inclusion! This means include and accept everyone.

Quoting a neurotypical's observation (from Joni and Friends, Part 2: Truth for the Church; section 18:15), "If someone comes to me with poor social skills and I reject them, I've sinned - they didn't. So, if the Lord needs to bring people into my life who are somewhat incompetent, who in terms of communication wise are not the greatest, in order to teach me how to be more accepting of people, then that could potentially also be another benefit."

What makes someone think it's Aspies who are incompetent? The neurotypical majority's opinion? What exactly is incompetent about a neuro-A-typical individual? Wouldn't the incompetent one be the person who doesn't know what to do or how to think?

Teddy & Chiliswoman answer the question, "Why do some NT's find people with Asperger's so unlikeable or annoying?" quite accurately by saying, "...they (NTs) do become annoyed - at them self because now they don't know what to say or do. They have to think about how to converse with you (the Aspie). It is no longer natural and ordinary. Some people are so uncomfortable with that that they cannot continue the conversation, others muddle through, and some excel."

Many accuse adult Aspies of creating their own problems. This thought places the blame of rejection on the victim. It is no different than telling a woman who was raped she must have somehow asked for it.

It's commonly said people with Aspergers are anti-social. This perpetuates the notion that Aspies are to blame for lacking fellowship among the church's congregation. Expressing a desire for a prayer partner for an Aspie can result in being told, "There are Christians persecuted in other countries who don’t have a prayer partner." A pastor may also say, "Aspergers is something psychologists made up." Yes, they made the label up. However, things don't need a label in order to exist. Labels are a communication tool.

The church needs Aspies as much as Aspies need the church. God created man in His own image and we are all one in Christ Jesus. The body of Christ is not complete if it does not fellowship with the believers who are a social discomfort. Social discomfort is a two-way street.

The American Association of Christian Counselors includes the post Asperger’s Syndrome and Spirituality. In it, Rev. Stephanie C. Holmes, M.A. recalls a time in her daughter’s life when she was not drawn toward the church or Christians. The reality of many Aspies’ experience with religious hypocrisy grieves her. She explains why individuals with Aspergers need the church to BE the body of Christ.

It is hypocritical to think Asperger individuals are the only ones with poor social skills. What worse social skill is there than to reject a person simply because she may take you out of your comfort zone?
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Taking Things Personal

There are two opposite ways of taking things personal. One way displays class. The other way lacks dignity.

1 Peter 4:13 tells us, "to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." We can only do this by faith and being humble. Meekness is classy.

There is nothing dignified about the flesh. It's human nature to feel hurt when someone rejects us. Generally speaking, Aspies are challenged by this pain more than neurotypicals. We're less successful at making friends. We forget life isn't about us. It's about glorifying God in our sanctification process.
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

God can use what is meant for evil to work together for our good. For example, He can use ROTTENeCARDS to help end a habit of taking rejection personal. A website like ROTTENeCARDS reveals how depraved humanity is. Society is becoming increasingly proud about its shameful attitudes and behavior.

Aspies may often wonder "What did I do wrong now?" when a neurotypical acquaintance does not lead to a friendship. It's possible the NT acquaintance may love worldly ways (2 Corinthians 6:11-18) or he may be uncomfortable having to think about how to converse with an Aspie. A Christian Aspie may be shunned because of Christ and/or because of not being neurotypical.

It's not difficult to offer up the sacrifice of thanksgiving in our tribulations when we have right perspective. If we see by faith the wisdom of trusting God to know what He is doing and realize how foolish it is for us to think we know what's better for our own good than He does, He will make us glad with exceeding joy! Faith is the cause. Joy is the fruit. Being glad isn't the cause of everlasting trust in God. It's the outcome.

We feel like we think. To question our Heavenly Father's ways may seem like it is the result of feeling disturbed. Doubting God is sin. Unbelief is the root of sin. God does not lie. He tells us He is good. Satan wants us to judge God. God wants us to unconditionally trust Him.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9
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