Once again I welcome Kristi Nolan to the back porch up on Rocky Top. Kristi has been married for almost twenty years. She is the mom to a seventeen year old young man, an eleven year old beautiful daughter, and a thirteen year old son who has to choose to overcome autism every day.
About this time every.single.year we hit a bump in the road – but this year it feels especially rocky- more like a 90-degree turn than a bump.
Every.single.time it feels like I’ve had the breath knocked out of me.
But this time feels deeper and more ominous. This time, my son cries out, “why doesn’t anyone like me?” and he talks about not wanting to go on, about stopping his pain – and he’s done research online.
Nothing prepares you for finding that in your 13 year old’s computer search history. Even if you know that statistics say 1 in 28 people on the autism spectrum will attempt suicide, you really don’t think you’ll become the 1 in 28. Until you almost do.
I’m not sure what part any piece of the puzzle plays into the place where we sit today- but there’s one piece that other people can absolutely help to reduce, if not remove.
Have you taught your children about kindness?
Have you talked to them about noticing the kids who always seem “other” or “different”?
Have you talked to them about helping someone build their confidence instead of tearing it down?
Have you talked to them about having the courage to stand up for those who are being targeted by the meanness of others?
Have you told them how disappointed you would be to know they had been cruel to someone else, especially if that someone couldn’t help their differences?
Let me tell you something about bullying that I’ve learned so well in the last 7 years :
They know how to do it when teachers aren’t watching.
They know how to do it and make it someone else’s fault.
They know how to intimidate others to not be a “tattletale”.
They know how to convince the adults they didn’t mean anything by it.
This isn’t about a school, or a class, or a teacher, or a particular student…..
It’s about the world we live in – we cannot run from it and hide (although sometimes we would just like to).
Because these people aren’t just students at school –
they aren’t just coworkers at your job –
they aren’t just inconvenient people who live on your street –
They’re your NEIGHBORS — as in, “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR” —
How are you doing at being the one who loves your neighbor?
This season of my life has shown what’s in my heart – and it’s been refining.
I have learned that I will hurt for my child – I will be frustrated about relationships that seem too fractured — I will see the world for what it really is – broken and full of sin –
But I can do all this while reacting in LOVE to my neighbor –
I had lunch with a new friend recently and she had the following verse on the chalkboard in her kitchen:
“You are included among those who have been called to BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST – Romans 1:6”
We all BELONG –
that other kid who was mean to yours – they belong
that neighbor who refuses to make amends – they belong
that coworker who stole your ideas to get ahead – they belong
that former-friend who chose the not so typical lifestyle – they belong
that spouse beside you who betrayed your trust – they belong
My child may feel different and left out and like he doesn’t belong at the lunch table or in the courtyard,
but HE BELONGS TO JESUS CHRIST….
And so do you –
And so do your neighbors –
Everyone belongs – are you helping anyone find their way to where, to WHOM, they belong?