When Lan was younger, I often worried about him. Not merely about his development, but also his loneliness.
He and his brother shared common friends in elementary school. But as their friends grew older, their interests drifted toward those things middle school kids do. However, Lan’s interests remained with Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers or whatever he deemed cool at the time.
Lan’s longtime friends looked out for him in school for sure, but they didn’t “hang” with him. Very few called to ask if he could come over or go places with them. This became more apparent as his older brother accepted invitations from kids while Lan remained at home.
I think we can all relate to being an “outsider.”
Maybe you’ve been the new guy on the job or moved cross country without knowing a soul. There may be times you don’t get the joke. Yet, most of us can eventually move from the outside in.
Being an outsider can hurt. It often lasts longer than expected. When Lan was first diagnosed with that vague “pervasive developmental disorder” I certainly felt alone.
Who could understand my wants and fears while watching other kids move along carefree?
His child was viewed as an “outsider.” Jesus didn’t talk like everyone else. He saw things differently. He broke the rules. Even as part of a larger plan, I can’t believe any parent is “okay” watching their child suffer or hurt.
Not even God.
I don’t doubt God was with us even when it didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned feelings can be deceptive. I don’t allow them to smother my faith!
Yes, Lan and I were a bit melancholy that first year of high school. I was standing in faith that God would bless him with one “good friend” his freshman year. Despite my prayers, that didn’t happen.
I now realize that first year “alone” was a blessing in disguise. Or, more accurately, a lesson in disguise.
I initially feared Lan would be taken advantage of in high school. I didn’t want him blindly following others just to be included. Instead, that first year taught Lan he could live on the “outside” and still be okay.
I also learned that lesson.
My normal doesn’t have to mirror everyone else. We can deal with autism. Our lives may be a bit different from the “norm” but then again what is normal?
God was with us.
We were never really alone. We didn’t break under the pain. Crack?
However, we are still in one piece and Lan is lonely no more!
Lan spent yesterday at an arcade with his best friend. They met this school year in a visual arts class. They both have their quirks. They “get” each other. They have a shared love for “Hero Up!” and its superheroes. There is no need to “conform” when they are together.
God is good like that. His timing is perfect.
So whatever you are going through, remember you don’t have to go it alone. God is the Father we can run to! Better yet, God carries us until we find the strength to walk again.
It is often the loneliest times that make us stronger.
And should you see someone peering in toward you, show a little love! Act on that urge to take the new guy out to lunch. Stop and say hello to the new neighbor. You don’t have to move out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes, all God really wants is for us to let someone into ours.
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV