COMING OUT …. COMING HOME

It’s been over six weeks since I posted.  I’ve had a lot to process.

I decided to send the prospective publisher personal material about my autism journey for inclusion in the manuscript I have submitted about spirituality issues with mental illness and disability.

It was a struggle of trusting God.  I like being in control.  I like knowing exactly what will happen.  I want to know if it will be published and, if so – will there be negative consequences for me and my career?

But, hey, that’s not God’s priority.  God’s top concern is how many people will be helped by my “coming out.”  And that’s really how I want it to be.  I’ve long been a supporter of legal rights and marriages for gays and lesbians.  That dream is starting to find fulfillment, and much of the painful path to getting there has been countless people “coming out” and living through the consequences.  I think people’s minds have been opened by realizing that a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague is part of a group that they have stereotyped and discriminated against.  It’s social change at the grass roots level.

My life-long prayer to God has not been: “Please, God, bring me a smooth, happy path in life without conflict and challenge.”  I have prayed, “Please, God, use me to serve in whatever way You need.”

I’ve had many years of successful work in ministry and in the human services field.  Now that I have achieved some professional success, my “coming out” could help smash some stereotypes.

Recently I heard Temple Grandin speak.  She is my autism heroine!  She was asked what she would recommend to others with autism about coming out as autistic.  She said that she didn’t reveal her diagnosis publicly until after she had achieved success in her profession.  She said she recommended that, whenever possible, people first gain recognition for some achievement, and then talk about being autistic.

Bottom line:  I believe it is God’s call that I honor God’s gifts to me by using them in the service of others who are suffering discrimination – many of whom have been made voiceless.

So I made the decision to walk the path of “coming out”.  It is hard to leave it up to God, however.  Many days I have so hoped that the manuscript be rejected for publication and I won’t have to deal with this.

But, if this manuscript isn’t published by this publisher, I suspect that God will have other ideas on fulfilling my calling.

I know it will not be an easy journey.  I’ve read many blogs and books by other adults who were newly diagnosed and made the journey to come out to others.  Most of them had some painful encounters along the way.  They point out that once you “come out”, you can’t undo it.  I’m moving slowly, but it is a journey I have to take.

I’ve found a family in the community of autistics.  I’m becoming involved in support communities – locally and on-line.  Through these I will continue to draw my strength as we move forward together.

It’s a new year and a new beginning.

Thanks for being part of my autistic family.

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On Coming Out …. Or Not

This is a big decision.  What would it mean to let people know that I am an autistic minister?  Other autistic people might appreciate knowing a minister on the spectrum.  However, neuro-typicals might feel that they could not trust me anymore.  I could lose a job that I love very much.  Or I could lose the confidence of some of the people I minister to.   Probably my ministry would be re-shaped in ways that I can’t now imagine.  Some of the changes would probably make me happy; others of them perhaps would make me sad.

I’ve been writing some things about mental illness and spirituality, and have been in conversation with a publisher who might be interested in publishing it.  When they requested some additional material, I threw in a chapter about my own journey with autism. I think I was hoping they would say that the material about my autism doesn’t really fit in this prospective book.  But, instead, they especially like that chapter!  What do I do now?  Do I leave it in?  Do I give them more of my writing on the subject?  Do I forget the whole thing and walk away?

Continuing this conversation with the publisher could change my life in some dramatic ways.  As an Aspie,  I do not like change.  I especially don’t like it if I don’t know in advance exactly what lies down the road!

As with all major decisions, I know that it is not ultimately a matter of avoiding my fears of the unknown.  It really comes down to my relationship with God.  What does God have in mind here for my life and for my ministry?

 

 

 

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Autism Is the Calling

In my twenty-five years as an ordained clergy woman, I have often felt that there was something terribly wrong with me; something that kept getting in the way of my fully responding to God’s calling me to ministry. Recently, I went for a diagnosis with a neuro-psychologist and learned that I have Asperger’s Syndrome [Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM V]. Now I understand what I’ve believed was getting in the way of fulfilling God’s call to me: it is my autism. Yet, in my prayers, I feel that God is saying to me that autism is not a barrier to my calling; autism IS my calling!
Being an autistic minister means ministering with and through my autism; not in spite of it.
I’m not totally certain what that means, but I hope to explore it in this blog. What does it mean to be an autistic minister? What added gifts does it bring to serving God? How do I fully be my autistic self, and minister through my full being?
I hope to find some answers through blogging – and hopefully getting some input from readers along the way.

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