“The Unsaid Things”
I recently had a very interesting experience as I was talking with my son about things of the spirit. We have had quite a few discussions over the years on what it means to “feel” God talk to us. Some people refer to this as inspiration, personal revelation, being moved upon by the Holy spirit, etc. There are many different ways in which various religions describe how one has a personal connection or communion with God and it almost always refers to some kind of emotional experience. This is a very tricky thing when your emotional experiences are limited by autism.
My son has found this to be very confusing and because his experiences have been different, has at times felt like an outsider. Let me emphatically add here that those on the spectrum do feel emotions! They experience sadness, anger, empathy, happiness, excitement, etc. The difference is that the experience itself is not necessarily the same. Sometimes feelings get mixed up, sometimes they have a more logical emotional connection but rest assured that the feelings are there.
I am a firm believer in God and that he loves all of his children! I believe that he communicates with us through the promptings of the Holy Spirit and in a way that we can individually understand. I have wrestled with how to help my son recognize how the Holy Spirit talks to him. The typical terms used to describe such and experience might be having feelings of peace or filled with warmth. The scriptures teach that “I will impart unto you of my spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” Through a series of events, my son and I have come to a better understanding of how the Holy Ghost talks to him personally. I think that the ways in which the Holy Spirit communicates are as varied as the people on this earth because it is individual.
Why bring this up? As adults or peers in the lives of those on the spectrum, this is an important aspect of gospel living that we need to acknowledge and respect. You might be a gospel teacher, pastor, bishop or other religious leader and it can be helpful to know that this is a relevant topic you will likely come across. We can look for ways to uplift and encourage those whose experiences are different than our own. We may need to be patient with the process.
For those on the spectrum, know that you are not less valuable because your experiences are different. I recently read and article, “Mr. Spock Goes to Church” in which a self declared Aspie explains his struggles with this very aspect of religion. He searched for a long time to have an “emotional experience of God’s presence.” Though he did all of the right things, he didn’t feel what others told him he was suppose to feel. “But” he says, “Jesus himself finally reached me, and man did I feel that!”
Regardless of your religion, I hope that this adds a unique perspective on this subject. I would love to hear about your experiences. How have you have found answers and peace in the process? What would you wish others to understand?