Ephesians 6:16 - In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
James 4:7-8 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Revelation 12:10-12 - And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But owe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"
Dear God, Based on what I am reading today about what Satan's arrows of lies are, I am saddened to realize that some of those lies that I had to endure hearing actually came from the very people who were assigned to work with me at Tom's church. And that I did tell him about the injuries that were inflicted upon me as a result of them and yet he did nothing but try to accuse me of misunderstanding them. But Ginny, who I miss greatly, saw through them and saw the hurt and heard the pain and even felt it and she was moved with compassion for me. She tried to turn things around. Mikki's words still hurt me today as do Mark's, and I will never be able to truly recover from them, especially not after what Tom did and the way he did it. God, move through my heart today as I start the process of the letter to be mailed. And move in Tom's heart as well. Mikki and Mark both used the diagnosis of the autism against me. They belittled me and they used it as an excuse to exclude me, when what they should have done is used the knowledge of it to find out more about why I am the way I am and how they could more effectually minister to and with me and include me. "You can't do this activity because you have autism and to might happen and this and that and this and that." Baloney sandwiches. I have autism and I CAN do everything that my peers can do except that I might need a little bit of help along the way and some mentoring and I might need an escape and a safe room to go to when I do need it. I have autism and I CAN do it. I may need to go through therapy to desensitize me. I may even need to use a device to help me communicate better. I may need to run letters and e-mails and other things I need to say through some people who can serve as filters before I can say them, but I CAN. I can do choir because I love music and music gives me a voice. I can do puppetry because puppetry gives me a voice without putting me in the spotlight. I can play music because, again, it gives me a tool for communicating. I can write because writing is my voice. I can paint now because I am less afraid of the texture, and it gives me a way to show the world how I see it. I think in pictures. Right now, we are concerned because the hearing aids I need will cost a lot of money, but I need them so I can hear the world again. My exhaustion is literally from having to work TOO hard at what I need to do in order to do what I need to do. My body and my brain can no longer handle things. It comes to being able to work efficiently, not harder. I have autism and I CAN. That care team, particularly Mark and Mikki! should have worked toward the I can rather than the I can't. They should have strived for inclusion rather than exclusion. "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to Me." (Matthew 25:31-46) "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. ... On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." (I Corinthians 12:12-31) A church that does not act as a body may not be a church at all. And on the case of Tom's church, I can see where it forgot that it is a body and that all people who come through it and become a part of it are equal and deserve to be treated equally. If one member messes up and gets to go through the Matthew 18 process toward reconciliation, then every member should have that same opportunity. But I never got that and when Tom screwed up, I was not given that chance, but rather they violated their own document that they kept insisting I sign before they would even consider making the corrections that are needed before I could sign it. But the thing is, if no other person has to sign something before they can attend church there in terms of that same kind of document they drew up that outright excludes me from everything that the church hinges on, then why should I have to? Because what that document would do, if signed, is give them permission to abuse me. As it is, they took the lack of a signature and abused me anyway. They destroyed things with Tom after he had reassured me that we could remain friends after I severed membership. And even though Tom had the responsibility of acting in accordance with Matthew 18 with regard to our conflict, he did not. He was irresponsible and he crushed my spirit. And now I am being called to more and being stretched by being called and pulled to write a letter that may or may not even get read to extend grace to Tom and give him a chance to make things right with him and me or at least talk with me and give me the closure I still need. As to his church, maybe I won't bother because they are not a church. They are a disorganized group of bullies who abuse people who have autism and other special needs. Their leaders are arrogant and corrupt. I wonder if they are republican? Lack compassion for the least of these? Check. Say one thing but do another? Check. Biblically bankrupt? Check. Yep. Sounds republican. Not to offend, but there is just too much I now have to ask myself in all of this as the distance and the time have led to a lot of things including the capacity to think for myself and reason things through. Can I extend grace to Tom as an individual and his wife and invite them into a conversation that if nothing else will give me much needed closure? Yes. Can I extend grace to his church and invite them into conversation for the same reason? Yes. Will there be enough grace to give them another chance even if they did meet with me and amend things and present a new document? I don't know. Because they don't deserve it. Will there be enough grace should we say, okay, it will not work out with me, but what can be done for the future consultation? Yes. If Jesus spent the greatest part of the three years of ministry that are recorded on the Bible ministering to people like me the most, then churches need to model that. The greatest number of people who are unchurched in America are those who are challenged and blessed by special needs family members. And 90 percent of special needs families are unchurched. That is a lot. So, back to Satan's lies. Tom believed lies and it got to him. I believed lies and it got to me. God, equip me so I can hear Your truth and not the lies. Thank Hou. In Jesus' Name, Amen!