(Don’t worry. This isn’t about parenthood. Or childhood. Or anything of the sort. )
I’ve just recently started watching the series “Parenthood”…as prompted by my dear sister. I’m only on Season 1, Episode 2, so don’t judge…yet. (And just so you know, I’m hooked already!)
I just finished watching this specific episode (S1E2) and there was a conversation/interchange/dialogue between a married couple of the main characters and a secondary character.
This couple has just found out that their young son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s…a form of autism.
Here is the exchange between the parents and the doctor.
Dr. tells parents: “Start with more of a big picture conversation. This isn’t a prison sentence…”
Dad: “So how long is this gonna take?”
Dr.: “How long will what take?”
Dad: “Just to get him through this. Get him back on track.”
Dr.: “Unfortunately there is no cure for asperger’s. It is a syndrome that he will always have.”
Mom: “So what is it we’re supposed to do for him?”
Dr.: “You will help to uncover [his gifts]. You figure out how he learns. You get as much support for [him] as possible. Research shows that the greatest barometer of success for children with Asperger’s is their parents’ involvement.”
Dad: “So how?”
Dr.: “The first step isn’t to wrench Max out of his comfort zone. The first step is to join Max where he is. And then when he’s ready, you walk him into the real world.”
I’ve always asked God to let me see Him in the world…in the stories of tv shows, movies, books…in the various situations that present themselves…in the circumstance and happenstance and nitty-gritty of everyday life as we know it. And as I was watching this specific scene, God let me see Him…to see His kingdom. He taught me a very important lesson.
As you see in the dialogue between parents and doctor, there’s something very specific that needs to happen in that situation. Those parents need to realize that there’s nothing that they can do to change the fact that their one and only son is dealing with a condition that will change the way he sees and lives in and interacts with the world. And the only way that the parents can manifest any progress into making their son capable of living in this land that is different than he is, they must meet him where he is, instead of trying to make him like they are.
Here is the spiritual picture I see here.
Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Forgiver and Leader feel like we have definitely reached the pinnacle of our spiritual lives. We have arrived. We get it. No, we’re not perfect, but we know the basics of what Jesus asks/commands us to do with our lives while we are still occupying this big, blue ball.
And now and then (and hopefully more often that not…cuz Jesus said it should be so…) we find ourselves in the company and the midst of those that we don’t understand and that don’t understand us…maybe people who haven’t crossed that spirit-life line. They’re on a completely different wavelength. We simply just don’t get each other. They’re operating on a radically different operating system than we are. Much like the parents of an Asperger’s child.
So the advice of the dr. to the parents is true for us as well.
We will meet people in our lives that are so difficult to understand, so hard to figure out…as if they’re living in a completely different world than we are. Well, guess what? They are!
But that doesn’t mean we try to “fix” them and make it all right. It doesn’t mean that we run away scared from who they are. It doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands and proclaim that we have no idea how to meet them where they are.
It means we run toward them…arms open wide…with a heart overflowing with pure love that wants to meet them right where they are.
Just as a parent, caregiver, God-parent or whatever, meets that child with Asperger’s syndrome, or autism, or bi-polar, or rotten attitude, or whatever else that makes them less than approachable, we need to take the good doctor’s advice: “Join them where they are until they’re ready to walk into the real world.”
MAN!!! This hit me close to home.
So often, many of us tend to steer clear of those that are different than we are, especially in the area of mental health. We feel because they are “different” than we are, we need to keep a wide berth between them and us. But this Dr….and indeed our own Savior, Jesus…says that we simply MUST join those people where they are if there is any hope of reaching them.
Now this isn’t to say that we join in on all of their habits, hangups and hurts. It simply means that we must find a common ground with them…with absolutely no judgment. (“There but for the grace of God, go I!”) What it means is this: unless “those people” see us as willing believers to meet them where they are, they will want nothing, or very little, to do with anything we have to say to them.
I haven’t watched ahead so I don’t know the next moments of the story, but I do know this: Many people have come into a relationship with Jesus Christ because someone close to them…someone trustworthy…someone who is a close heart friend…someone who has reserved judgment to the One and Only High Judge.
It’s not complicated.
I daresay that there are many people in your sphere of influence that need to know about Christ. People of different color, different economic standing, different lifestyles, different political views, different mental wellness, different parenting styles, etc.
Go get into their world. Speak their language. Yet remain totally and completely you in all of it. Figure out how they “learn”…how they “deal.” Join them where they are. Because only then will they allow you to speak the words that they really need to hear…whether they believe it or not!
“Join them where they are until they’re ready to walk into the real world.”
So I encourage you, as you go about your days, seek out those around you that need words of encouragement, words of love and grace, positive words that just might change their life in that moment…and maybe for many years to come.
And with God’s merciful grace, maybe one day soon, they’ll “walk into the real world.”
YES and AMEN!