Oct 27, 2006

I Still Can't Believe It!

Yesterday, my wife Marge and I spoke at a one day conference for teachers and parents of children with Asperger Syndrome. I had a portable tape recorder on the podium and was able to record much of it.

I listened to a little bit of it, and was incredulous all over again. Did I really do a good job? Is what I have to say really entertaining and insightful? Wow. Was that really me? Yes, I have proof. That's my voice, but how can it be that by displaying my "weakness" and "disability" I am a source of strength to others.

I was slightly detached yesterday as I spoke. I normally filter so much that yesterday I made every effort to stay out of the way, and just watch me talk. The whole time I'm thinking, "Is this really what people want to hear? This is all the goofy stuff. It's the stuff that I've wanted to restrict in favor of the responsible adult sounding material."

I've worked hard at becoming a responsible adult, yet I subscribe to the principals of clowning. Really. A truly skilled clown is vulnerable with his/her flaws in a way that both entertains and teaches. By doing so, the clown exposes flaws or even evils in his/her audience in a way that stirs a change without discouraging the listener. That is the fundamental heart of a clown.

Perhaps I state too specifically to my own situation. Let me say it more correctly: A clown uses foolishness as a tool to point to the value of another.

Some clowns are purely entertainers. The circus clowns come to mind, but their entertainment may not be only that. By laughing at them we are really laughing at ourselves. We are laughing at our flaws and minimizing their power over us. We all fall down, we all fail, clowns redirect our perspective to see the humor in our own failings.

Failure can become a monster that haunts us continually. The monster of failure can gain strength as it feeds on our energy, draining from us our will to try new and scary things. Draining from us our daring to attempt that which frightens us.

In reality the monster of failure is only as large as our perspective of it. The lower we feel the taller it appears. Conversely, the taller I feel the smaller my failures appear. Failure has no power. The power of failure is a lie. In the Bible (John 8:44) Jesus is recorded as saying that the Devil is a liar and the father of lies. That's the Devil's real power. His power to convince us of that veracity of a lie.

It's so easy to embrace the power of a lie, and to live in it. It takes energy and daring to step out in faith, and live by different principals even when the lie still has some grip on us. It still has some grip on me. The lie that people won't like the real me so I'm better to wear a variety of personalities that people would rather see.

I remember once when a coworker stopped me in the hall after a meeting and said, "Quite telling everyone that you don't know what you are doing or they might start believing it." I was stunned. It hit me like a bolt of lightning: my value in this job is my thoughts and ideas not my official credentials or work history. My expertise is already in my head. My value to my employer is in the way I think about things.

Shock! I am valuable to my employer just as I am.


So at the conference yesterday, I just let my inner Aspie pour out through my public speaker face in a way that I have never done. It was mildly organized chaos. A mosaic of thought. To my audience it had essential value.

What a shock!

It's hard to untangle the chains of the lies I've held so dear for so many years. I embraced the "Adam is junk" lie well over 20 years ago and it lurked in the corners like a secret addiction. I've heard that an abused spouse may choose to stay with the abuser rather than risk living lonely. I don't see myself as a victim frankly, but my wrong thinking became a constant companion, and it is easier to maintain the current state than it is to bust into unusual ground. So much so that the "Adam is junk" lie had taken on an air of reliability.

This is really getting long, and I need to go back to work.

Let me close with this: Relentlessly stay on message with everyone you know. The message is that everyone has intrinsic value because they were created by God and created in His image. For that reason and that reason alone every single person has inestimable value that is neither bound to what they can do or what they can't do. We all need to improve and grow, but that is our source of joy, for God never condemns those who try to please Him and fail.

Success or failure should never be the issue, but the measure of . . . a . . . "successful" person (is there another way to say that?) is that they reach beyond their current limits and aspire to something more.


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