We had a sermon series preached on some cliche phrases spoken by christians as biblical truths, but in fact are anything but. The phrase that hit me hard was, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I know I’ve said it and believed that the message it was getting across was Godly. We are meant to love everyone, but not engage in their sinful lifestyle/choices or act as though we agreed with their lifestyle/choices. Right? But after hearing the sermon, I find the flaw in that statement glaringly obvious and am ashamed to have spoken those words myself.
I debated on whether or not to write about it in the realm of parenting an autistic child. I know I will get a lot of people who disagree with what I’m about to say. But just as the above statement is false, so is saying you love your autistic child, but hate autism. The two are inseparable. Autism isn’t a disease. It isn’t a disorder. It is part of who my son is. To love him, to really love him, means to love all of him. To say I love you, BUT…isn’t really saying I love him. It’s saying I tolerate him. And that’s not the same as love.
Love, true love, Godly love, Christ-like love – means to say I love you EVEN… Even the parts that are hard. Even the parts I don’t like. Even when the behaviors and the meltdowns and the aggression are more than I can handle. Cause the truth is we all have parts of who we are that are tough to deal with. Just ask my husband. He will give you a long list of the things that he doesn’t like about me. We all struggle and we all have places that we can work on in ourselves.
God told us to love our neighbors and our enemies. He showed us how to love through Christ. To love unconditionally. To love no matter the cost. And he loved us at our worst. At our lowest point, when we were as far away from him and his grace, he pulled us close and said I love you. Just as you are. He didn’t have stipulations – when you’re no longer a sinner, when you follow all of my commandments, when you….He loves us. Period.
That kind of example is what I want to set for my child. To show him autism or not, behaviors or not, improvements or not, I love you. Just because you are mine. You don’t have to earn my love. It is just there. Always. Even when I’m not so good at showing it because life gets hard and I don’t get enough sleep and so on and so on. I’m definitely still a work in progress. I am no where near perfect and still fail at showing love and grace at all times. But I hope to continue to work towards loving the way God taught us – To be able to say I love you. Period.