On identity crises and small group

Mom’s in Vegas for a week then visiting family in California.  This leaves Lydia and Elsie Momless and rather disgruntled.  Momday is Saturday… only today it was Friendday and Auntday.  Friend and Aunt are lovely and I love them, but they’re not Mom, and I’m on the verge of melting over the whole thing.

I ran a small group at church for young women (14-25) with ASD today.  One of the girls made it very clear that she is not into the whole religion thing, nor was she a fan of crafts (I’d planned a craft) or for that matter, people.  I told her, listen, I’m not here to make you be something or do something you don’t want to be or do.  Yes, we’re going to talk about God some, but you can choose to paricipate or not as you wish.  You can do the crafts or do something else.  You can text or listen to you iPod.  I don’t care.  And, seemingly magically, she perked up.  She joined in the conversation.  She did the activities.  She loved Applies to Apples (who doesn’t?).  Next time, I told her we could play with the Wii or watch college football, not to mention more Apples to Apples.

To be clear, I do have a plan in my mind.  I have a series of goals, sort of… and the first one to accomplish would be to show these girls that all people don’t royally suck.  And a step beyond that, that all Christians don’t royally suck.  I want to help them develop their own identities and be able to verbalize who they are.  I do not want to force religion on them but rather build from the ground up with relationships and community and safety.  I want to build the right environment, have some discussion, and hopefully get them thinking.  If, via this group, they can learn that church is an okay place and that some Christians are decent people, if we can open those doors so that someday they can make these important faith-based decisions for themselves… then that is my goal.

For some of the girls in the group, it seems that autism is our only identify.  Others won’t let it into their identity in any way.  They build up their other interests and abilities in order to push out the autism.

We all need balance, don’t we?

My friend emailed me last night saying that she doesn’t know who she is apart from teaching.  When she’s not teaching, she feels aimless.  You, reading my blog, might think that I don’t know who I am apart from autism.  I find that many of us focus ourselves on one aspect and say that that is who we are.

I have a shirt that I wear to autism events… it says I’m So Much More Than Autism and has a bunch of adjectives around the big words.  I wish everyone had a shirt like this.  My friend J’s could say I’m So Much More Than Teaching and include words like helpful, passionate, and curious.

How about you?  What would your shirt say?

I’m So Much More Than A Mom.  Try smart, quick-witted, and easy-going.

I’m So Much More Than Cancer.  Try joyful, understanding, and a good listener.

I’m So Much More Than This Wheelchair.  Try an actress, a teacher, a friend.

I’m So Much More Than An Engineer.  Try a football lover, a father, a deacon.

We’re all multifacted.  When we focus on one aspect of ourselves to the exclusion of all others, we do ourselves and our Creator a disservice.  We were created to be ourselves- all of ourselves- and not anybody else.  Don’t let anyone tell you, most especially this world of ours, what or how you should be.

Be who you are.

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6 thoughts on “On identity crises and small group

  1. That was an awesome way to handle that girl in group! And I really love the t-shirt idea. You are right we all get hung up in a certain definition of ourselves. Thanks for the insight!

  2. “If, via this group, they can learn that church is an okay place and that some Christians are decent people, if we can open those doors so that someday they can make these important faith-based decisions for themselves… then that is my goal.” . . . That’s a great approach to your group, Lydia. Keep up the good work.

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