Friday, March 10, 2017

It Really Is THAT Important!

If you do not consider yourself a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

I'm going to try to keep this short, because it's getting late and I want to watch Jeopardy! before I go to bed: In my online postings, there's been a lot of talk about relationships, and people have been discussing about me potentially marrying a woman with the same condition.  They're not the first people to say it; years ago, a professor at my college said the same thing...but, I disagreed back then, and I still do now.  Here's a few short and sweet reasons why:
  1. The ratio of males to females with Asperger Syndrome has been estimated as anywhere from four to one to as much as ten to one, so, there aren't many women out there that have it.
  2. When I've met people--okay, they were guys, but still people!--with the same condition, we had next to nothing in common; they couldn't have cared less about all of the things that make me...well, me, probably due to lack of common experiences.  It isn't just my condition that makes me who I am; it's being raised without a father and with a disabled sibling, gaining a brother-in-law at age eight, becoming an uncle before finishing high school, growing up in the church, etc.  I don't really know anyone--with or without any sort of "condition"--who has even half of those same experiences.  Thinking all people with A.S. will get along is like thinking all Texans, or Hispanics, or single parents will get along.
  3. You probably know that I've used the title characters of Mork & Mindy as an example of a relationship.  Mork looked like a young adult, but, he was actually very childlike, and Mindy had to be the responsible mother figure and keep him from getting in trouble.  However, imagine if Mork's companion on Earth had been a fellow alien who was just as clueless about Earth ways as he was; he would have been in even more trouble.  I mention that for one reason: When in a relationship, I don't want the female version of me; I want someone who is the things I'm not but wish I could be: organized, calm under pressure, able to solve problems easily, etc.  If I get stuck with someone who has all my same problems...I'm in for a world of trouble!
As important to me as those reasons are, none of them are important as the one I'm about to name: media discernment.  That was a value I was raised with, but I've known hardly any people my age--even those who were raised in Christian homes--whose parents cared about what they watched, listened to, played, etc.  Maybe they drew the line at outright pornography, but, that's about it.  Much like I heard a former friend who was involved in our high school's show choir say she could never marry anyone who couldn't dance or sing, I can't marry anyone who doesn't believe in media discernment...but, it seems like almost nobody does.  Even some of my older friends will watch movies and shows that merely hearing the titles of makes me cringe!

You may think that is an A.S. thing, but, I know it isn't, and here's why: Like I said above, people I've met with the same condition have next to nothing else in common with me...including rules about media.  My roommate at Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center--a place for people with disabilities--had the same condition, but unknowingly creeped me out by telling me one evening about the first survival horror game, which was so graphically violent it was never even released in America.  He didn't go into any lurid details, but, it was still enough to keep me up late that night.  Other fellow A.S. sufferers were the same way.  Other than random online users or the people at sites like Plugged In or the Dove Foundation, nobody seems to understand my rules.

So, until I meet a single girl in the Church of Christ who agrees with me about media discernment, I'm staying single...and, at this point, I doubt it's ever going to happen.  I know I'm walking a narrow road, but, that's what Christians are supposed to do; remember how Jesus said that the way to destruction is wide, but the way to life is narrow?  Too many Christians I know are way too worldly; they may attend church two or three times a week, but, in their daily lives, they do the same things anybody else does.  We are commanded to "be in the world, but not of the world", why aren't Christians doing that? If people can't tell you're a Christian without you telling're not doing it right!

A postscript: When I was in seventh grade, I was constantly frustrated by the immature and crass behavior of my classmates, and wanted to be switched to a different class.  My mom used to tell me that, if I searched hard enough, I might find someone who agreed with me...but, I never did; even the Christian kids in my classes were no better than the rest of them.  The adults in my life agreed with me, but, they were the only ones.  I mention that for one reason: Much like back then, the only people who agree with me about media discernment are ones much older, i.e., ones at least old enough to be my parents.  Even within the Christian realm, the millennial generation is pretty much "anything goes," which is not God's way.  I'm not about to tell you what you should and shouldn't watch...but, don't expect me to see some trashy sex comedy or torture-porn flick just because you endorsed it.  You can make fun of me; you can talk about me behind my back; you can unfriend me; go ahead and do whatever you want...because I'm not living for YOU!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why Marriage Scares Me

Before I start, I will say this: If you do not consider yourself a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

If you are or have been married, I would hope that your wedding day would be one of the happiest, if not the happiest, days of your life.  If you had a traditional wedding, you probably spent a while planning everything: finding the locale, inviting guests, getting someone to officiate, etc.  Unfortunately, for those of you who have been through divorces, you probably would say that getting married is the biggest mistake you've ever made.  What should have been a happy union ended in tragedy and heartbreak, the kind you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.  I know how that is; I'm a product of a marriage gone horribly wrong.  While I've never been in a relationship myself, what I've seen happen in others' relationships--especially marriages--scares the pants off of me.  These days, people throw around the term "scare" like they do the word "love"; someone once told me, "You scare me!," just because I knew the name of an obscure Growing Pains character, and the actress who played her.  I'm not just saying that it scares me, though; it really does...and for reasons that may surprise you.

What are the reasons? As usual, I'll make several points, and bring it home with a conclusion.  First off: I'm afraid of being abandoned.  As Christians, I'm sure most if not all of you know Jesus' teaching about divorce: "except in case of marital unfaithfulness".  Some have argued about whether or not that includes cases of abuse, but, I'm not going to debate that here.  What I will say is: Though that may be the Biblical standard, Christians everywhere violate it, and have for a while.  Many years ago, there was a celebrity couple--I won't name names just because of how embarrassing this story is to everyone involved--that went through a divorce.  The wife got emotionally involved with another man, and left her first husband for him.  She cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the divorce, but her first husband was quoted as saying, "There was only one irreconcilable difference: I wanted her to stay and she wanted to leave." That may sound like a typical Hollywood romance, but we're not talking Tinseltown A-listers here; the divorced couple were both contemporary Christian musicians, and this was early in the days of CCM.  Worse yet, the guy that she left her husband for was a mainstream singer.  (Maybe now you know who I'm talking about, but, don't say if you do.)  Though not in the global spotlight, that kind of thing happens all the time among Christian couples...which just makes me sick.

Even if there's no wrongdoing, someone can still leave his/her spouse in the dust.  If you went to my old church, you probably know the story of a beloved church member and father of four who died of pancreatic cancer, leaving the whole congregation, especially his wife and school-aged kids, grieving.  I'm sure the mother of that family never intended to be a single parent, and that her husband would never have willingly abandoned her...but, it happened, and she has not remarried to this day.  I've been abandoned by too many other people; just this past Christmas, I woke up to news that a once-trusted friend had given up on me for no apparent reason, and completely out of nowhere.  I considered that lady a good friend; how could she do that to me? If I get married, I open myself up to that...and that's enough reason to stay away.

Second off: I'm afraid of getting abused...and being an abuser.  Though my parents never abused me, plenty of other people did.  I could tell you some horror stories about how people who should have been trustworthy--teachers, supposed "friends" at school, even fellow youth group members--treated me like dirt.  Unfortunately, I have no room to talk; I'm just as guilty of abuse as they are.  Usually, I responded in kind to how I was treated, so, if someone treated me like dirt, I treated them the same way.  Even those who never meant me any harm got treated that way; my immediate family members and even our pets often faced my wrath.  I despised Sparky, a dog we used to have, as soon as I laid eyes on him, and it wasn't until well after we got rid of him that I realized what a grievous error I had committed, especially since I was a Christian when I did it.  I don't do that kind of thing anymore...but, at the time when I did, I felt that I had every right to do it.  Who's to say the woman I marry won't feel the same way? Even if she promises before we get married to never do such a thing, people change, and there may come a time when she feels she has no choice but to do it.

Third off: I'm afraid of getting held back.  If you've known me for a while, you probably know about my severely disabled sister who died in 2005.  What you may not know is that our family situation--which was largely because of her being the way she was--frustrated me for years.  Constantly worrying about finding someone to look after her was a big pain, not to mention the times I had to send my mom to get something for me that she would never use--i.e., a Nintendo GameCube controller--instead of getting it myself, which caused all kinds of confusion.  That's why I viewed it as a divine birthday gift when my sister died; not only was her suffering over, but, to a degree, so was mine.  The many great things that have happened since--us moving to a bigger house, my mom getting married again, our trips to places ranging from Washington, DC, to Lancaster, PA, to even Tampa/Clearwater, FL, etc.--wouldn't have been possible with her still around.

Since then, I've been afraid that such a situation will rear its ugly head again.  No, I don't think my eldest sibling is going to come back from the dead; that's not what I mean.  I just don't want to be in a situation where a relationship--even a non-romantic one--is holding me back.  Before you ask, I don't think my parents are doing that; if they don't want me to do something, it's usually for my own good, and my folks are usually happy to take me where I want to go (i.e., the used bookstore) if nothing else is going on.  However, what's going to happen if I get married to someone who refuses to take me to the used bookstore for some stupid reason, or is adamant that I need to accompany her to Busch Gardens? You may say that couldn't happen, but, I've seen it in more than one situation.  My point is: Right now, I've really got nothing holding me, why do I need to add something that (or someone who) will?

Fourth off: I'm afraid that my heart won't be in it.  Despite being in Boy Scouting for thirteen months, and spending over 2.5 years in Cub Scouting preparing for it, it was never important to me.  I was only in it because someone made me join the troop, not because I had any interest in being there.  That was why my mom decided to pull the plug on it so early; it just wasn't going anywhere.  If it had been important, I'd have been well on my way to earning Eagle...but, I never was.  I just couldn't get excited about it the way I did my favorite things--i.e., entertainment--which I still consider an obvious sign that I shouldn't have even signed up for it.

Unfortunately, when you're in a relationship, it has to take priority; if your significant other isn't important to you for any reason, you're headed for Splitsville.  I've seen relationships end because one member of the couple felt he/she wasn't a priority.  As much as I would want my wife to be important to me, that doesn't mean she would be; just because something is supposed to be important to me doesn't make it that way for me.  I may try to make it important, but, my "hobbies"--which are more than just hobbies; they're passions--will likely get in the way.  Who wants to be involved with someone like that?

This is getting rather long, so, let me list some other reasons briefly:
  • I'm afraid of getting stuck with someone who won't respect my convictions...because way too many people don't even understand them.
  • I'm afraid that sex won't be all that it's cracked up to be.  Sure, the media makes a big deal about it...but, I once read an article in Christianity Today that said that the whole "if you wait to have sex, it's a blast" teaching is killing Christian marriages.  Maybe some of you married friends of mine have a field day with it...but, that doesn't mean everyone does, or that I will.
  • I'm afraid of having children...because I have never wanted kids.  If I found out I was going to be a father, even if I were married, I'd probably shoot myself.
 (There are probably others that I'm not thinking of at the moment.)

Now, for my conclusion: With all this against could I have ever even considered seeking out a relationship? Simple: I've always been afraid of being lonely.  I don't expect to have someone like Ash's Pikachu, who constantly tags around with me everywhere I go, but...what is a wife if not a best friend? For years, I've been afraid that I would have no friends, and, as I lose contact with more and more people, it seems all too likely.  I would hope that those of you reading this would never abandon me, but, anything could happen, and there may come a time when you're forced to do just that, even if it's neither my fault nor yours.  I need friends I can count on, not just people who give a nonchalant "That's nice" when I tell them something.  Plus, I can't live alone; I need a helper--isn't that what God called woman when He created her?--to assist me; help me figure out what I need to do, what someone is trying to tell me, etc.  Since hired help is no good, it seems like the only option is to get married...but, that doesn't seem viable, either.  So, that leaves me not knowing what to do; I guess I'll just have to trust God.