Friday, June 14, 2013

"My Way or the Highway"? No Way!

Unless you've watched absolutely zero broadcast television or fast forwarded/muted every single commercial break over the past several years, no doubt you have seen some commercial with a little kid saying, "Mommy doesn't ______!" The entire point of those ads is to show that "Mommy" has a better way of doing things: using the product which is being advertised.  My mom doesn't like those commercials, and I agree that they are a bit annoying.
Still, I think they make a valid point about the "way" we do things.  Of course, there are always certain rules that have to be followed, especially on the job.  When it comes to everyday life, especially leisurely pursuits, however, there aren't many rules.  As long as you keep it in following with Biblical commandments, no one should have a problem.
Most of you reading this probably already know that my "way" of doing things is...well, not "normal".  Compared to the "average" millennial, my tastes, my priorities, my hobbies, my interests, and even my way of thinking are quite different.  (If you and I are coeval, can you honestly disagree?)  You could even say the same about me and the "average" guy of any age; how many other human American males do you know who couldn't care less about professional sports? (Okay, maybe you know a few...but only a few, I'm sure!) It's a combination of being mildly autistic--though not disabled; remember?--and being raised in a family situation that was unique in multiple ways.
As most of you can imagine--and some of you probably already know--people have often challenged my "way".  Here are some common behaviors of mine, along with the questions I get and the responses I give (or would give):
What I DoWhat They Say About ItWhat I Say in Response (If I Can)
Bring my own books with me when going to the library just for fun"Why do you need those? There are plenty of books to read at the library!"I have a large collection of books of my own that I need to read in order to get rid of them.  Going to the library is a good way to get out of the house and avoid getting "cabin fever".
Consume "kiddie" entertainment instead of shows, movies, music, etc. that is popular with my peers"You're too old for that! You should be watching stuff meant for people your own age!"Most entertainment specifically intended for "young adults" is morally offensive, and I refuse to take part in it.  My friends aren't bothered by it in the least bit, and, by getting all out of joint about it, you've proven that you are not my friend.
Consuming entertainment that some find too "girly" (i.e., Princess Diaries or Christian "young adult" novels with adolescent females as the target demographic)"What would your guy friends think if they knew you were reading [or watching] _____?"My guy friends would probably be more bothered that you feel that such a matter is a problem than the fact I was consuming whatever entertainment; they're mature enough to refrain from judging, unlike you.  Your response smacks of the immature behavior that I saw kids deal other kids who were "different" when I was in middle school. "For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10d, NKJV)
You bet, my "way" has been challenged for years! Even on Facebook, I have been unfriended without warning several times, presumably because they were "weirded out" and didn't know what else to do.  Therein lies a problem, though: I have to stand firm in what I believe in...but how do I refrain from becoming conceited and/or believing that my way is the only way? Just over a year ago, an acquaintance commented, "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong. [...] Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore."  Before that, other friends and peers had similar things to say.  One older friend commented on a post about the likely impossibility of me driving and said, "The real issue is pride: 'I am right and pretty much everyone else is wrong.'" (Yes, he was quoting me.) Even if you go back to my freshman year of high school, a coeval friend from church reprimanded me for my attitude after I talked about something I knew that the rest of the class--including her--didn't; her exact words were, "You shouldn't think you're better than us because you know who that is and we don't!" When I replied, "Did I say I was better than you?", she quickly countered with, "No...but you implied it!" In those cases and other similar ones, it was not my intent to look down on others because their belief was supposedly incorrect or they didn't know some bit of trivia...but I still came off that way.
When I was in seventh grade, we did an activity at my youth group meeting involving a hypothetical coeval classmate whose situation was randomly generated from a numeric list of options.  One of the kids ended up with a "sloppy, disliked kid" whose problem was being conceited.  Upon hearing that, some of the kids there started to laugh; if no one liked the kid, how could he be stuck-up? They were soon silenced, however, by a rather smart girl who commented something to the effect of, "Maybe his opinion of himself was inflated because everyone else's opinion of him was so low."  I think I had a similar problem: When countless people told me my "way" was wrong, I insisted it was right and said that their "way"--which was usually much more "normal" than mine--was wrong, which caused a lot of friction between me and that person, and, sometimes, our mutual friends.
That attitude is wrong, though; it's problematically similar to the hypothetical Pharisee whom Jesus vilified: "I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income." (Luke 18:11b-12, NLT) Though it's right for me to stand firm in my beliefs--as long as they are correct beliefs, that is--it's not right for me to use conflicting opinions as a catalyst for dissension.  It shouldn't be a "my way or the highway" deal; Paul warned about that in 2 Timothy 2:23: "Stay away from foolish and stupid arguments. You know that these arguments grow into bigger arguments." (ERV)
One thing I've noticed about myself--which could be an A.S. thing, or simply a personality trait; maybe even a combination of both--is that I tend to operate in extremes.  Essentially, I either take things too far--eating too much of the same food, the obsessions/addictions, reading the same material a thousand times--or don't take it far enough: walking as slow as I can on my "mile run" in P.E. class, only opening a Bible during a church service or Sunday school class, not taking my medication or brushing my teeth as often as I was directed.  In both departments, I have improved to a degree; still, it seems that I don't know how to "stand firm" or have good self-esteem without becoming prideful.  Though Psalm 139:14 says us humans are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (NIV), Proverbs 16:18 also says, "Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin." (NCV) I used to choose to have low self-esteem because of not only that verse, but also annoyance with people who were stuck-up.  There's a happy medium that I need to strike: standing firm in my beliefs and being proud of the way God made me, but not becoming "dogmatic" or conceited.  Unfortunately, I don't know if I can do it; it seems like I'll just end up gravitating to one extreme or the other.
I will end by saying this: Most of you already know that I have felt that a relationship is unlikely in my near future for multiple reasons.  That right there puts me at odds with many people; some folks feel that getting married is a rite of passage, just like graduating from high school or learning to ride a bicycle.  That acquaintance who called me "dogmatic" also said, "[Siobhan], I truly believe you have the potential to [...] have a happy, full life with [...] God willing, a wife/family. I know that you have the rocky path of Asperger's [sic] to deal with, but I think that if you are given the right guidance, you can overcome the obstacles in your way. It may take longer for you to reach, but that goal is attainable for you." I hate to disagree with something that is presented in such a sweet, kind fashion, but said individual is, in a word, wrong.  Marriage isn't for everyone; I don't need to quote the Bible verses again that say just that.  Still, people like that acquaintance think that they're doing the right thing when they suggest that I should try what "everyone else" is doing, not realizing that they could be sending me down a path I'll end up wishing I never traveled.  That doesn't mean that said road is wrong for my friends, but it is wrong for me.  All the good intentions in the world aren't going to change that.  Is living "the single life" any better than being married? No; every sort of lifestyle has its own pitfalls and temptations.  What I need to do is learn to work with what I've got, instead of obsessing over what I don't have.
Any comments?

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