Monday, July 9, 2012

Loving The Asperger's Child in Sunday School

We spent our Sunday with Memaw and Papa at the Wonderlab in Bloomington.  I still don't know who had more fun:  Papa or my kids?

Yesterday the kids were exited their Sunday school class when a man walked up to Caleb.  He smiled and then peppered him with questions, 

Do you have a summer birthday? 

Are you going to camp?

Playing any sports?

Caleb eyes darted around the room and made minimal eye contact with this man.  He'd answer, but in either short perfunctory responses or detailed, professor like accuracy.  After a while, Caleb seemed exhausted by the small talk and walked away.

I was left with the man and asked how he knew Caleb.  He introduced himself as Caleb's Sunday school teacher from the previous year.  I never met this man, but I knew his wife.  She always greeted Caleb with a smile and seemed excited to see him every week.  She even made him a whole plate of Christmas cookies around the holidays.

He said, "My wife and I knew Caleb was a little different so we took him under our wings.  We looked out for him and tried to make connections.  We love him."

As he talked, my eyes teared up.  Caleb is such an amazing child with so many unique and interesting gifts, but he is not without his challenges.  He's confusing and frustrating for many (even his parents) and some adults just don't know how to take him.  But these amazing Sunday School teachers didn't see him as a challenge as much, but as a child of God and so they treated him as such.

How can I explain their loving actions?  I imagine these Sunday School teachers love Christ so much that they ooze out that love on others.  I think of Matthew 25:40 which says, "Insomuch as you do to the least of these, you do to me."  I'd rephrase:  "Insomuch as these Sunday School teachers do to the Asperger's child in the Sunday School class, they do for Christ."

The truth is the whole entire process of getting Caleb to church has been difficult over the years.  The first hurdle was always getting him through the door and then next was finding a proper fit for him during the service (Sunday School class or sanctuary).  If he did enter the Sunday School class, I'd sit anxiously in the pew praying his pager number didn't flash upon the screen.  (Sometimes it did.)  I found the whole experience defeating and stressful.  I remember several months not even trying, telling the boys we'd do "home church."  But then, we found a fit for him.  We discovered these wonderful teachers.  Chris and I actually sat in a sanctuary and listened to a sermon (almost worry-free).  It was wonderful for everyone.

I thanked Caleb's kind Sunday School teacher for his kind words and loving actions.  My words seemed trite.  How do you truly thank someone for doing something so seemingly minor, but so deeply profound?

I don't know if we can thank them, but we can pass on that same love to others.  Chris and I signed up to be greeters for the Sunday School.  They've inspired us to love other children (and seek out the different ones) as much as they love Caleb.

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