This week on the Beardcast Matt and Zach discuss the differences in resolutions and disciplines.
You can listen to the audio version of the Beardcast here
I’ve been called weird and odd in my life. They were just labels I accepted early on, because I couldn’t even explain the way I was in a manner that made sense with the rest of the world happening around me. No one could truly lay a claim to understanding me. I was the eccentric friend, brother, son, uncle, husband… At least some people liked me and loved me anyway, right?
I left high school early, only to remove myself from college before getting done. Once I got done with college, I swore I would never go back, only to go back twice over (to this point). My worst class was always math, but math has always been one of my strongest abilities outside of school.
I’ve always had people that made assumptions about things I’ve said or my specific behavior in any situation. Always had trouble with it in school. Thought I had gotten away from it outside of school, but haven’t escaped it when I’ve tried to make professional leaps to better myself and my family. There are grown adults spreading rumors about me just in the past two years because they never took the opportunity to figure out who I was and how everything worked with me.
There was one day that my wife and I were visiting with some friends, and I apparently cut one of them off with a correction in a mean-spirited manner. My wife asked me later what in the world I was thinking, doing that. However, I couldn’t recall that feeling ever being present at the time that occurred. That friend, who is also an educator, later told my wife the more she thought about it, she thought I might be Autistic.
I did what I always do and read everything I could find on the subject. I could see how that would be the case that I would be Autistic, but didn’t do anything further with that information at the time. Being parents of a toddler trumped a lot of things at the time, including this. But those two would dovetail together after we began to suspect that our toddler might also be Autistic.
At a later date, I had a really bad day at work. It felt like I was having a bit of a breakdown, so I sought out a psychologist. In one visit, that psychologist had identified me as Autistic. (To be fair, he said Asperger’s Syndrome, but the current diagnosis standard has everything rolled under the same umbrella as Autism Spectrum Disorder.) So my breakdown that led me to the psychologist could more accurately be described as a meltdown.
In the last 18 months, it’s been tough to walk around quiet about it. Some days, I’m really spent because certain things just violate the sensibilities I have that sometimes only make sense to myself. There have been things that seem to be new issues for me when the truth is I am only just now understanding things that have caused me trouble my entire life.
It’s been an interesting ride at home not only re-learning about me, but also learning about my son in an additional light finding out he is Autistic as well. I’ve also selectively told people I thought would be open-minded.
I share my story now for a few reasons. One, it really is tiring not to share with those that know me best out of everyone. I’ve always been an open book for people, and that still hasn’t changed. Two, the battle amongst the growing Autistic community to dispel the stigma of being Autistic requires education and understanding of others about the troubles gone through to persist in a world not designed for you. I like to make bold moves, so I decided I wanted to jump from one at a time to many
at a time.
A little about Autism:
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurotype that is legally classified as a disorder in the United States, as well as many other countries. Diagnoses have spiked in the past decade because the knowledge of what Autism is and isn’t has only just started hitting its stride. Most adults diagnosed as such probably should have been diagnosed as children. There is still a lot being learned about Autism.
The one confirmation the medical community has made about how a person ends up with Autism is that there is a heavy genetic causality.
Autism manifests itself differently in every individual identified as Autistic. Because it can cause a severe effect on development, some Autistics will require assistance the duration of their life. Others may need no assistance because they’ve learned ways to “fit in” to a level where most people would never know how different they really are.
There are some general areas in which Autistics process differently than everyone else.
1. Executive Function: This is the ability to operate every day, doing normal tasks that anyone has to do. This can be a minor or a major issue. For me personally, I operate nominally as long as I have things hammered into a routine. The moment that routine has to change is when my world can get turned upside down, even on the tiniest of things. This is why I like project management. I am a planner!
2. Processing of emotions or emotional information: The stereotype is that Autistics have no emotions. This is untrue. They just process differently. If you allow me to be a fly on the wall, I will have the entire room read in no time flat. However, if you insist I interact and be involved with anyone, it can take me hours to days to process their emotions and what they said. This makes me seem uncaring at the time, and “late to the party” when I revisit something later. Even just a little bit of distance allows me to be more efficient.
3. Sensory Processing: This is something that manifests itself differently for every Autistic person out there. This is something I am even still learning more just about myself. Sound, smell, touch, sight, taste… All these things have the possibility of being hyper-enhanced. I often have issues with sounds that are needlessly loud. They create physical stress reactions. I can function through them, but in the case of attending a college football game where the loudness of the experience (not including the noise produced by the fans in attendance) was indiscriminate, it took me about 3 weeks to recover.
4. Honesty: The saying goes that honesty is the best policy. But that is never held to be true always. Some people will lie, or withhold the truth, to spare feelings. Others will do it to avoid consequences. There are many reasons people will lie. The way Autistic people are wired, they tell the truth…every time…practically. For most Autistic people, they would be bad liars. Manipulative ulterior motives are rarely ever existent for an Autistic who is telling the truth about something. Some people have suggested this is tied back into the emotional processing issues.
5. Meltdowns: Over-stimulation in any area can cause meltdowns. Meltdowns are basically when the brain short-circuits on you. Meltdowns can be loud and messy, especially with, but not exclusive to, younger kids. They can also be very quiet, where someone just shuts down and doesn’t participate in the world for a little bit. Meltdowns go away at some point after the removal of the over-stimulation.
Goals for Autistic people to self-regulate often include exercise, diet adjustments, yoga, and meditation. Goals for “normal” people to be inclusive of Autistics include having an open mind and allowing time (in multiple ways) for whatever the relationship is supposed to be to form, as well as always communicating in the most direct way possible (we don’t normally understand innuendo).
In spite of these differences Autistics have with “normal” people, we often learn things faster, are very loyal (sometimes to a fault), and are already extremely hard workers just trying to keep on par with others in a world not designed for us.
Remember, Autism is a little bit different from person to person. What I would share with you that specifically applies to me may not work in the same way for anyone else. That being said, I am always happy to answer anything I can.
Tim Brewer is an awesome Husband and Father to his wife and son. Tim currently lives in the Panhandle of Texas, where the star are bright at night and you can watch your dog run away for three days. Tim is also a great friend of the Bearded Theologians.
Have you ever had a book pick you? Recently, my family traveled to stay at Lake Erie. We were doing some shopping as a family. My seven year old asked to go into the bookstore. So I journeyed with her to the children’s section. While I was waiting, I thought I will peruse the religious section beside the children’s section. My eyes rolled across book after book. There was one book that I noticed, but I was not in a book buying mood.
I walked back to my daughter and discussed her selection. As I walked to the front, I picked up the book that had caught my eye. I actually thought to myself, you don’t need another book. I didn’t even know what the book was about. Waiting for the cashier, I glanced at the back of the book. I noticed that two of the people making comments were football people, Tony Dungy and Chris Carter. I was still not excited by this book, but I could not convince myself to put it down. I purchased the books, one for my daughter and one for myself. As I exited the store, I chastised myself in my head to myself about all the books I own that are not read or not fully read. “All I need is another book.”
The next day I started reading the book. I was finished reading in 3 days. I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to make my purchase of the book that day. I am very thankful for the promptings of the Spirit. That book was exactly what my heart needed. It very much prepared me for the journey I would take in the next couple of weeks.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to be born of water and the Spirit. Uncertain of Jesus’ words, Nicodemus questions the meaning of this birth. In today’s world, I fear, we have lost our understanding of what it means to be born of the Spirit. When we accept Christ we become a vessel of the Spirit. That means we are transformed by the Spirit of the Living God. Wow! Impressive! Overwhelming! How amazing is it that we can be filled with, transformed and guided by the Holy Spirit!
In the world today we need the Holy Spirit so desperately as we encounter issues such as addiction, diseases, financial crisis, and relationships (just to name a few). I am drawn to the words of Francesca Battistelli’s song, “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what my heart longs for to be overcome by your presence Lord.”
Kara Rowe is an ordained Elder in the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She currently serves Newell and First Chester United Methodist Churches. She lives in New Cumberland, West Virginia with her husband, Michael and her three children: Caleb, Abigail, and Jakoba. In Kara’s free time she is a crime fighting ninja, but don’t blow her cover!
If I had the finances, luck, or a DeLorean complete with a flux capacitor I would love to travel back in time. Of course, I would love to travel through time seeing various events throughout the past and even into the future. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, time travel is not a reality at this point in time… or at least that’s what I want you to think! One of the trips that I would make back in time is to my 18-year-old self. Fresh out of high school, on my own, in college, and working up to 4 jobs all at once. I would like to tell myself 3 very real truths I wish I would have known some 14 years ago. I do not have many regrets in life, and these 3 bits of encouragement to myself or anyone in the same position are not about regrets, simply encouragement.
1. Save your money. Just because you have a little bit of money doesn’t mean you have to spend it. Save your money and when you spend it, spend it wisely. Spend your money on things that will provide you lifelong memories, not temporary happiness.
2. See the world. There are really awesome towns and sites to see so close to you. Go see the world that is right in your backyard and then keep going. Don’t limit yourself to the big cities stop in the small towns too. Get off the interstate, take your time, cruise. This world is full of rich history and people. Take the time to travel the world and hear people’s stories.
3. Slow down and smell the roses. Take the time to take all that life is throwing at you in. You will have the opportunity to experience great joys and great tragedies, take them all in. Good, bad, right, and wrong these moments make you who you are. Slow down and take them in, let them shape you into who God is calling you to be and where God is calling you.
Life is an amazing thing. There is not a moment or experience that I regret or take back. My life is not perfect nor has it gone exactly as planned but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I would simply slow down a little bit and take it all in. Life is too short to spend it worrying about money, missed opportunities, and missed moments. The fortunate thing about this life is we do not have to have a time machine, we can life into these ideas and hopes today, no matter our age. Enjoy life. You owe it to yourself and your family.
Rev Zach Bechtold is the Co-Founder of BeardedTheologians and a Pastor for the United Methodist Church in New Mexico. When Zach is not sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ he is fighting crime as the masked avenger “Beardy Face”, but don’t tell anyone!
A lot has happened in 16 years in our world since I walked across the stage and graduated as a Miami Wardog. Last week we asked Jake to write for us on the topic: 3 things I would tell my high school self. Zach and I felt that we should also look at this question. Zach will write his next week.
1st words of wisdom I would share to my High School Self: Don’t be Scared
Some of my moments of greatness over the last 16 years have come because I did not let fear take a hold of me. The first mission trip I would take, I had to fly on a plane something I was not too excited about especially not so long after 9/11. There have been a lot of cool things that I have been able to experience because I conquered fear that was attempting to stunt my growing. I have also let go of the fear of the other and have gotten to know people that I would have not encountered and get to know had I let that fear. Jesus dinner party with sinners in Mark 2:13-17 was the verse that pointed me in that direction.
2nd words of wisdom I would share to my High School Self:Do or Do not there is no try.
These wise words from Yoda have really motivated me in my life and ministry since I left high school.
3rd words of wisdom I would share to my High School Self: Kill Them With Kindness
This was a lesson I learned early on in my ministry. I wish I would have known that in High School. But killing my enemies with kindness has been a great lesson to learn and there have been times when my enemies then became my friends or best ministry partners.
What are some words of wisdom you would give your high school self?
About our writer: Rev. Matt Franks
My xbox gammer tag is rabbi franks, on Tuesday nights you will find me navigating Destiny because it is reset day. When I am not investing in my hobby of Beardcasting, I serve as Lead Pastor of FUMC Locust Grove (for a few more days). I also coach the Stars U8 Soccer team which our motto is 40 min. of chaos. I have a great wife Ashley who writes for us from time to time and two kids.