Autism: Seeing Dimly

The Activities Building was crowded with college students that night. The Bible classrooms empty, and gym unused, we congregated to play “Sardines” – a twist on the childhood favorite “Hide and Seek”. We often played this game on small college campuses, in church buildings, or large facilities because a big area was needed for this game.

To play, one person hid while the other 50 or so individually (or in pairs) looked for them. When the person looking located the person hiding, they hid alongside them. The last one to find them was “it” the next time, but more importantly… the loser! Also, this game was played in the dark with no flashlights allowed.

This night did not involve an unusual duration of game time, but it was peculiar that I had been walking around for over 45 minutes and had not seen a soul! I looked more than once in every classroom, under every table, behind every door – but I was clearly the only one who had not located the group. Where could so many people be hiding and I NOT KNOW!?

On the second floor of this building, I peered into a classroom. In the distance I made out the vague shape of a person. Oh how wonderful, someone else was still in the game (and I was not the loser)! I could not see who it was but as I ran across the dark room toward them, they ran toward me. When we got close enough to whisper I said, “Hey have you seen anyone else?” They did not answer. “Hey, have you seen anyone?” No answer. “Hey, can you hear me?!” Finally, I reached out to grab their arm to gain their attention – only to find I had been talking to a mirror the entire time! Immediately the lights came on, revealing everyone hiding in the same room. A looming witness to the entire fiasco, they all burst into laughter…and I joined them. I was in fact the loser, feeling it in a myriad of ways while also seeing the humor in the moment.

Have you ever been deceived by your circumstances? Ever looked around and interpreted what was going on in your life by the information you could see dimly? How many times have you been in darkness groping for pieces and clues to put together so you would not feel alone or like a loser? I did not know this night in the Activity Center would be a foreshadowing of my life as an Autism mom with a plethora of dark rooms, an abundance of looking and looking again, and (if I could keep my wits about me) a lifetime of moments at which I could laugh.

1 Corinthians 13, most notably known as the “Love Chapter”, has been read at weddings and funerals, been framed for Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, and has probably been engraved on so many things only Psalm 23 might outnumber it.

While 1 Corinthians may not be the full picture of love defined in scripture it is helpful  as God’s people evaluate if our behaviors are loving toward one another in the Body of Christ. It also shows the tremendous love God has for His people. Interestingly, however, 1 Corinthians 13:12 uses an illustration I understand well: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (NIV)

As Paul addresses the unloving interactions he desires to rebuke and correct in the Corinthian church, like the uselessness of the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues, faith, knowledge, generosity, or self-denial apart from love, he is also pointing out one day some things are going to change and it is important we understand love, know love, and demonstrate love to one another. After all, “…faith, hope, and love remain but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13)

I admittedly am not able to adequately deal with all of these topics myself, but I can see the big picture of what Paul is communicating here: We see dimly now (like reaching out to mirrors), but there is coming a day we will see God’s plan unfolded and fulfilled clearly as face to face. We understand only part of what is going on in this life, but one day we will understand it (as if someone turned the light on in the dark room).

Hear my encouragement to you:

Hold on to Christ!

Don’t give up.

Keep trusting.

Keep believing.

Pray knowing God hears.

God’s love is perfect!

Lastly, hold onto the end of verse 12, “Then, I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” I am known. Not I will be known. We may not know everything fully, but that is not the case with our relationship to God. He knows all, He sees all, He controls all, and He is all-loving.

We Are Loved and …We Are Known.

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