“But I don’t understand!”

I can’t tell you how many times that thought went through my head when I was sitting at the back of a classroom as a kid, and even now when I’m “adulting”. When you have Asperger’s Syndrome you can be brilliantly smart, yet also have a very hard time learning.

I didn’t know I was an Aspie back then. Heck, I didn’t even find out until a year and a half ago (I’m in my 30s now). I only knew I was different, and quickly realized that in order to mask it, I’d have to figure out what worked for me.

School felt like teachers supplying the material and the means for how most students went about solving a problem or structuring a sentence, blah, blah, blah. While that was happening, my mind was hard at work on the cluttered mass of puzzle pieces someone dumped on my desk. We all knew the teacher was likely to call on someone at some point. Putting those pieces together was like manic panic, a race to put the same picture together as the rest of the class so that I didn’t humiliate myself when, and if, she called on me. Sometimes, I nailed it; most times the latter was true.

I thought I was different and awkward and screwed up because of my home life. I was and wasn’t. There were a lot of factors against me and my perception of love and acceptance, failure and success. A life where love was freely given was my idea of success; where I could be accepted and loved for who I awkwardly was. I was always trying to pick apart and understand the minds of my peers, why they did things they did, and how they saw me. Could they see my effort to seem normal? I know they did. It made things worse. Could they see that I was hiding terrible secrets while pretending I had the luxury of growing up in a family that didn’t hurt each other with their friends who didn’t touch inappropriately?

They were normal to me because they didn’t have those things against them. Without realizing it, I’d drawn a line between them and me, building walls.

When I had kids of my own, it was the first time anything came naturally to me. It was a private conversation that I was fluent in. Each of my newborn babies loved and looked to me with unconditional love and trust. Something I was determined they’d never have to feel the pain of losing or paying a price for. It should be as freely given to them as they naturally gave the moment our eyes met.

As for me, I’ve found that love outside of my children (and my step daughter) isn’t so natural to accept at all. I have the best freak’n husband, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve known bad relationships. Which is why when my fantastic, gentle, genuine man tells me he loves me, I think there must always be some sort of trick. We’ve been together for years, and he’s never given me reason to doubt him. The opposite, in fact.

A hurt person doesn’t accept love freely. No matter how positive I strive to be, I will always be a haunted and scarred version of who I was born to be. I’m skeptical when someone is kind. I have to find a quiet place to try and pick apart why he told me he loved me. Why he did this nice thing or bought me that. Couldn’t possibly be because he REALLY LOVES ME could it?! Because I feel these doubts and fears and have a hard time accepting it, does it make my husband’s love and words any less true? Hell no. It does, however, make for a frustrating companionship, when in reality, I have love like you read about in novels and dream of. The hardest part is acceptance. Here’s why:

According to victimsofcrime.org, 1 in every 5 girls, and 1 in every 20 boys are victims of childhood sexual abuse. Three quarters of those were victimized by someone they knew.

Thehotline.org states that on average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. That’s 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men in their lifetime who have had these experiences.

Naasca.org estimates that 1 in every 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys, WILL BE sexually abused before the age of 18. That equates to one fifth of America’s youth and 20-25% of the population! Between two thirds and 90% (including me) never tell!

For more stats, you can visit any of these sites, and you can see it in person through the loss of connection and compassion in today’s youth and society. But what it ultimately says to me is that millions of men, women, and children are paying a steep price for love, whether they are being compliant to the wishes of someone’s selfish perverted desires, or some bully holding them hostage in their own lives. When you consider that around 30% of victims will go on to victimize others? Ugh.

We live in a society that once preached free love but went on to cross boundaries and love freely whomever they wanted, including children! Hypocrisy at its most dangerous and damaging, so it should be no surprise that when someone shares the sacrifice of Jesus, (yes, here’s the spiritual part) it’s almost absurd to imagine!

“Okay, but I don’t understand! What does he want from me? What’s the catch? How much money do I have to give? Will this require fellowship with people I feel out of place with? Will they single me out? Lay hands on me and say a bunch of words interrupted by a crap ton of ‘father Gods’ or ‘Lord Jesuses’ over and over? How many Hail Mary’s do I have to say to be accepted and loved? What’s in it for me? What does it cost???

The answer is: nothing. It’s free to you if you want it. The only requirement is for you to accept the only truly free love you can ever know. It won’t hurt you. It doesn’t expect anything of you. People do. Ever read the passage in Corinthians on love? Yep. That’s for you. For free.

Now, if someone hands me this beautiful present, and I have no idea who they are? Sorry, I’m gonna have to pass. That’s dangerous. Well played Satan. I can’t accept candy or kindness from strangers these days, dontcha know!

Why Jesus is a stranger is another topic for another day, because I’ve gotten way longer than intended already. Sorry, not sorry.

The gift is free. It’s safe. There aren’t any rituals or gimmicks required to open it. You can puzzle over it and pick it apart the way I spoke of waaaay up there in the beginning of this. It’s okay to be cautious, and you have a right to be after what you’ve been through. You don’t have to understand why it’s free or why a spiritual being would take on the form of a human, confining himself to Earthen weaknesses and limitations. You don’t have to understand why he would choose to walk among the living just to die a horrid death so you could be saved. It’s okay not to understand it, because that comes in time. You don’t have to believe you are loved to make it true. It’s true whether you believe it or not. You are skeptical. That’s okay.

You don’t even have to open the gift. You can leave it on your doorstep, push it away with a stick to keep a safe distance. Watch it to make sure there isn’t a bomb or some sort of chemical inside that’s gonna hurt you. Just realize it exists and it’s available when you’re ready to open it and receive what’s inside. You may find some healing powers in there! =D

But wait! There’s more! Act in the next five minutes, and we’ll throw in as many additional gifts as you like for your friends and family! 😛

Couldn’t resist. If you’ve made it this far, you’re a trooper! Have a blessed day, this was for you.

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