The latest numbers from the CDC show us that 1 out of every 68 people have autism.
That means, statistically, if 1 in 68 people have it, then 3.6 million of Walmart’s 345 million weekly shoppers are autistic.
It means if you’re in a restaurant on a Saturday night, you’d likely find someone in the room who has it.
And in church on Sunday, it’s probable that you’re sharing a room and an experience with at least one person who has autism.
In fact, it is unlikely that nobody in the room has it.
Those are difficult facts, and, in my experience, I’ve noticed that the way people of faith attempt to deal with those facts fall into one of two camps.
Most people have been taught that God knows best, and a pious Christian doesn’t question. They’ve been taught that suffering shouldn’t hurt so badly, or for any length of time, if you have the joy of the Lord. Most people have been made to feel like they’re not allowed to ask questions, or just let heartbreak be heartbreak, lest they be told there’s something wrong with their faith.
I am not most people.
I’m the other sort. I am a fiercely devoted Christian, but sometimes I have questions, and I ask them. Sometimes, I’m mortified because he’s run headlong into our priest again (I tell myself he’s zealous in his faith). Sometimes, I get a moment to myself and I cry my face off because I have no idea if all this work is even making a dent.
So if you’re looking for inspiration for home décor, it isn’t here. I’m sitting on my husband’s futon from grad school and resting my mug on a coffee table that’s decorated with a stack of Nancy Drew books and a dirty diaper.
Here’s what I do know, and here’s what I can offer you.
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:37-40 NIV
God Himself gives our children the dignity of solidarity when they are forgotten or skipped over because they’re too difficult. He wants them to be an active part of the church, too.
Sometimes we need reminding of that. Sometimes we need something to celebrate. Sometimes we need a good, head-rattling laugh or someone to enter into our pain with us and stand with us there.
I got your back.