By Pamela Urfer
A lot of people are put off by Jesus because they think of him as a stern taskmaster who is just waiting to whack us if we step out of line. This concept is particularly anxiety-making for neurodiverse people who are, by definition, always out of line. As a woman on the spectrum, I had to come to grips with religious authorities (I was brought up Catholic) who have well-defined ideas of how young girls should behave. Over the years, I came to understand a few things about God and Jesus that were more reassuring than off-putting.
I saw that people often get Jesus mixed up with God the Father, the creator and enforcer of the Law. Laws can be strengthening and comforting (imagine if we had no laws against assault!) but they need to be balanced by what Jesus brings to the situation – love and compassion. Jesus loves everybody but he has a particular soft spot in his heart for the disabled and the wounded, those on the edges of society. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and caused the cripples to walk.
Some people didn’t like this. He was accused by politicians of healing ‘illegally’ and of associating with the ‘wrong’ people – prostitutes, tax collectors, heathens, apostates, foreigners. It was partly these relationships that led to his trial and execution. He definitely stepped out of line – and paid a price for it.
He could certainly relate to those of us who don’t quite fit into society’s approved roles. One of those worrying rules is other-defined gender roles. Transgendered people endure many hurts and trials on their way to a satisfying self-identification, as do all of LGBTQ participants. Jesus knows what it’s like to be ostracized. He’s ready to sit down with them for a cup of coffee and listen to their stories.
And gang members, disaffected young people, are in particular need of a friend, someone who can answer unspoken questions about the purpose of life.
Those who are unequipped, mentally of physically, to deal with out cold, unforgiving world might find that Jesus can be a sympathetic listened and advocate, and will point them in the best directions to find food and shelter.
It’s good to have Jesus on your side.
I am a seventy-five year old woman living on the spectrum. My symptoms have receded as I’ve grown older but it’s been a long, interesting journey. I’ve been involved in the arts and theater my whole life. I have been happily married for fifty-two years and have three children and five grandchildren.