Tuesday, February 4, 2014

No More Comparisons

Numbers 6:24-26 - The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Psalm 13:5 - But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

Psalm 29:11 - May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Dear God, Sometimes I feel inadequate because I have autism. And at these times, I realize I am just comparing myself to others. I am sorry for that. But God, I come to You today because something was stated that frustrates me. You see, God, yet again, I am being blamed for everything that happened at Oak Mountain. They claim I am out of bounds or was out of bounds. They claim I lack respect for accountability. The truth? If I was out of bounds, then so was Tom Patton. But according to what BOTH of us were told if I decided to depart from Oak Mountain, then it was up to Tom to decide of he wanted to pursue the friendship that he chose to pursue with me. And as far as that goes, I repeatedly asked Tom for clear cut boundaries but he refused saying that that wasn't how friendship works. Also, it highlights the fact that IF they truly felt that I was out of bounds, then according to their own terms, their church session must conduct official church discipline. Yet they failed to do that. Now I am being told after many months that they would possibly be willing to reconsider me if I earn their trust. What they seem to fail to understand is that trust goes both ways. Although I am willing, and have expressed this many times, to subject myself to some boundaries and restrictions, I cannot subject myself to their old document. It wasn't even an agreement based on the true definition of an agreement. God, why now? After all this time trying to ask them to enter into a peacemaking process, why now would they even express the remote possibility of doing so? They had three months. Almost four. Although I would like to be able to demonstrate grace to them, it comes with limits. As I expressed in return, I am willing to enter into peacemaking with them but only after Tom Patton and I go through the first step of that process. Then, and only then, can I consider it with their church as a whole. But God, my fear is that even if they are willing to enter into the process that I cannot withdraw the complaint due to time constraints. And I have hesitancy. They violated my trust when that care team chose to exclude me because I have autism and "autistics fill-in-the-blank and therefore fill-in-the-blank might happen and fill-in-the-blank." I heard nothing but those kinds of hurtful and hateful things for SIX months and Tom Patton dismissed my frustration about hearing those remarks as me misunderstanding them. Rather than doing something to help, he let them abuse me and bully me. I didn't just leave them out of frustration about the process which even he wrote was mishandled and misconducted. It was partly due to frustration but also partly due to the fact that it was plain and simply abusive treatment. He had the chance to correct that in October, but he didn't do it. Instead, while he was saying that what Oak Mountain did was wrong, he stood back and let it happen and then he joined in. And then he broke every promise he ever made to me and broke his compromise regarding Facebook (and promises too). His own actions were what crushed me. Because I trusted him. They sit there telling others that I have to earn their trust back? What about them earning my trust back? Why do they not understand the very things they expect of me also applies to them?!? My expectation of them was that if they truly found me to be out of bounds then they would do official church discipline. But they didn't! How can I respect that? I don't have a problem with accountability except when that so-called accountability system is violated by the very people who I am supposed to be accountable to. Matter of fact, I have to share this with all honesty: I have NEVER been fired from any of the jobs I have ever had. I quit one job because they put me on call and it was against company policy. I quit my VA workstudy because I was at a point in school where I couldn't find enough hours to work during the week because of my class schedule. My next job had some strange moments: Was told go pick up the playground balls. No one told me I could use a broom and the dustpan; then a supervisor told me to go run an errand on the clock and I questioned him on it; and bathroom cleaning? Well, I couldn't go in the men's room. I left that third job again due to class schedule. Workstudy two ran out as did all other financial aid except for what Voc Rehab provided. Fifth job: I put in two weeks notice and worked two jobs for two weeks. Sixth job was in my field but I had to leave because I was an honors student and the supervisor stole my byline and kept scheduling meetings when she knew I had class because she was my classmate. Seventh job: contract labor. I found myself being removed the schedule and said I couldn't afford to keep coming in when I knew I was on the schedule the night before but suddenly no where on the schedule when I arrived. I quit. I cannot tolerate conflict, especially unresolved conflict. But I also cannot tolerate when people keep putting ALL the blame on me and never take responsibility for their own actions in things. And it seems that that is what has happened again with Oak Mountain. So now, I am in a position of having to state my own terms, desires, and expectations, and refusal to meet me halfway is unacceptable. It isn't about not respecting accountability or boundaries. It's about respecting God and myself. It's about getting what I deserve as a creation of God. As a human. As a person. And yes, as a person with special needs. As I shot back, if they are willing to enter a peacemaking process with me, I am as well. Matter of fact, if one looked back on the past three months of my posts, they would see that I have expressed nothing but a desire to resolve things. It's too bad I don't know how to attach documents to a blog post or I would be able to allow readers to not only see their old document that they violated and therefore nullified but also my updated, nondiscriminatory, and more solid form of what they drew up. At this point, though, even if they entered into a peacemaking process with me, neither their old document nor my document could be upheld. It would have to be a new document that all vested parties have a say in, that goes through final approval based on law, the Bible, the BCO, research and history. So if they are willing to enter the process, so am I, but they have to understand that trust goes both ways, that the first step is between myself and Tom and cannot have their terms on any part of that, and that all parties have to be involved in the final process. A document drawn up by one person without input from all involved parties is nothing more than bullying and demanding. It is not an agreement. And when Tom expressed his own concerns over it, he had a longer list than I did! The reason I am including my thoughts on this here is because first, it is part of my own process too. You see, I am now on my 35th day of solidly being dug into the word. I am on my 35th prayer log based on my 35th devotional day. And I cannot tell you how many devotionals I am in right now, some of them on that youversion site and a few of which have ended now because they were starters for me, but I am plugged into that much more so than I was when I was at Oak Mountain. I had no choice though. They took away my rights as a person. And even though many people could attest to the fact that they found innocence and expressed frustration at the mistreatment that I have endured, those men hurt me. And Tom unnecessarily hurt me. The hurt that he caused me was the most damaging. But I can also tell You that regardless of what happens, if they enter the peacemaking process with me, starting with him, that depending on what happens with him, it has the most potential for the most beauty to be displayed. And oh how I would long for that to be the case. I have my reservations right now though, and I have just been assured that I am within my rights to have those reservations and to express desire to have someone else in the process. So it is that with You God, I am solidifying my desire to enter a peacemaking process with Tom Patton first, then the leaders of Oak Mountain to include Tom Patton second with representation from the presbytery to ensure that they play by the rules and play fairly. The reason for Tom Patton to be included at every step is that of all of them, he is the only one who ever demonstrated any understanding about autism. And that is important for me and for this process to have any hope of success. God, I do hope that a peacemaking process can begin. Although not on their turf right now. But please open their hearts and their minds to the fact that they too have a responsibility for what they did wrong. And God, even if we enter such a process, please keep reminding me that I am an individual created by You for You and am not to be compared with others or to compare myself with others. They need to listen. I need to listen. And what I have to say may be hard for them, but it is just as important. And God, truthfully, if nothing else, then if all that happens is that Tom and I finally work through our interpersonal conflict, then I will be truly fine with that. Because my reservations about giving Oak Mountain another chance were solidified when they interfered with that relationship with Tom to start with. Strike two. I would certainly hope they don't strike out though. Because every innermost part of me would love for it to work out in a way that is fair to me, to them, and to the people who do love me and have consistently loved me before, during, and after the autism diagnosis came into the picture. Now I finally truly get grace. Thank You God. In Jesus' Name, Amen! 

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