Theresa Harvard Johnson

Copyright 2017 Theresa Harvard Johnson
(Read other articles in the AMAZING LOVE SERIES at Chamber of the Scribe)

Halloween time is like Christmas season in the Johnson household. Yes, I said that.

This is not because of what the holiday represents, but because it is the time of year that JJ, my son, can find a wide-selection of superhero costumes locally just to pick through and observe – even though we know he will choose either Superman or Ironman in the end.

It’s the highlight of this time of year for him and has been since he was two years old.

If I allow the religious ideals and condemning speeches of the “Christian-holiday-police” to have their way, the joy my family and I have of seeing him choose a superhero costume would go up in flames.

What some believers may not realize, however, is that the “ability to choose anything” is an amazing accomplishment for JJ who didn’t have the cognitive ability to make choices just a few years ago. We’ve had to pray crossed eyes straight, pray for speech amid diagnoses that he never would speak, and overcome obstacles that many people who know us have never known our amazing son endured. We have so many miracles to speak of in his life that it brings me to tears just thinking about them.

So, if Halloween shopping is important to him, we take the good in that and run with it.

Personally, I do not celebrate Halloween or really any holiday for that matter. But it was the weekend that I gave my life to Christ. And it is the time of year that my son’s eyes light up because all he sees are bright colored, Marvel and DC Comics superhero costumes, swords, capes and shields lining the store shelves.

It’s his time to imagine Superman, Captain America, Ironman… and Batman in full power and coming to the rescue.

He sees the good.

Who am I to take the joy of such an innocent perspective away from him?

AUTISM & SINGLEMINDEDNESS

Many people are not aware of this, but autism diagnoses are associated with “single-mindedness.”

This means that some people on the spectrum may get an idea or have an interest that consumes their lives beyond normal limits. What makes this different is the idea or interest becomes “the only thing or the primary thing” the person focuses on – whether planes, trains, automobiles or superhero constumes.

Here’s an excellent way of describing it:

“To begin with, autism is associated with ‘rigid’ thinking. This sounds quite judgmental, but another way to say it would be to say that people with autism tend to be more all-or-nothing than most people: something is either absolutely not interesting or absolutely fascinating. This can be an oversimplification, but people with autism do tend to think in fewer shades of grey. When applied to favourite subjects, this can turn an interest into a passion, or an obsession.”[1]

My son JJ has a superhero obsession. He has several identical Superman t-shirts, and wears one just about every day during the summer. It has taken us weeks to explain, however, that when it comes to school or outings it is better to wear “a different shirt.”

We don’t always win those discussions.

And Halloween? Well, the holiday doesn’t interest him, but neither does the holiday-concept of Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. In his innocence, he simply connects the season with the best time of the year to do in-store shopping for everything superhero!

Why would I take that kind of joy away from my son over fanatical Christianity that sees a devil at every turn? Not everything is PERMISSIBLE for everyone. We must learn to receive our portion and directives; and allow others to walk within theirs! That's wisdom. So glad Holy Spirit is with me and my family.

Titus 1:10-16 , “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of THE CIRCUMCISION group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. TO THE PURE, ALL THINGS ARE PURE, BUT TO THOSE WHO ARE CORRUPTED AND DO NOT BELIEVE, NOTHING IS PURE. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

Cretan Jews who had converted to Christianity in Greece practiced stirring up trouble among the unconverted Jewish people as well as those who followed the pure teachings of the apostles. They loved pushing law on people, but among themselves were living corrupt, loveless lives.

Think Pharisees and scribes on steroids.

These Cretans, by Paul’s harsh language, were annoying… and could zap the joy and sweetness right out of a cherry popsicle in a five-year-old’s hand on a hot summer day.

They represented influence and wealth, but were antagonists to others outside of their clique and the early Church. As I see it, they are carbon copies of deeply religious, legalistic ideals, behaviors and traditions that strain gnats, swallow camels and live life as dry, white-washed sepulchers.

My son’s birthday is in mid-September. After checking the mail (which is a part of his regulated chores and routine), he brought me a sales paper with, “Halloween Sale,” at the top. It wasn’t about Halloween for him, but all the superhero costumes between the pages.

He was FULL of joy!

This life, for the average person, can be filled with SO MUCH TROUBLE. The trouble can be amplified when you have other significant challenges. It is for this reason that we have had to grab joy when it appears – EVEN IF it is in the aisles of Party City watching JJ patiently and intentionally sift through capes and costumes for 30 minutes. Paying attention to ANYTHING for that length of time is a huge milestone for him inside a busy, noisy shop. But what an amazing accomplishment.

There are some tough days ahead for my son.

As many parents know, autism can be a thief and a robber not just to the child, but for the whole family. Finding things that interest our children, even into adulthood, is extremely difficult.

So, if you find that one thing, it can become EVERYTHING. And guess what… any place of victory, any place of hope is well-worth embracing in Christ.

FOR MANY PEOPLE HALLOWEEN IS NOT ABOUT HALLOWEEN

So I say to you, “Don’t be a Cretan!”

Don’t you know that we have so much we can learn about one another? Sometimes, I wonder how awesome it would be to simply ask people questions about things before making ignorant assumptions.

The truth is: NO ONE knows what people are experiencing or how they are coping if they do not ask.

I have had Cretans make side way comments about my past involvement in a prominent sorority. Perhaps it never occurred to them that the point of listing the sorority in a bio is a place of witness, not a declaration of allegiance. Are we not supposed to be wise and gentle? Are we supposed to pretend our former lives NEVER existed?

I have had Cretans assume that because I enjoy Wonder Woman, I am somehow worshipping Zeus. Wow! This one brought belly rolls from me. Those who know me intimately can TESTIFY to the depth of my belief in Christ, joy and holiness. It probably never occurred to the naysayers that this superhero was a gift God gave me as a girl to cope with a traumatic childhood! Maybe my angel came in the form of what was familiar to my 5 year-old soul.

And JJ’s Halloween shopping, costume-wearing obsession is about empowerment, strength and normalcy “for him” in a world full of labels. MAYBE, JUST MAYBE... God told Him that he is a SUPER HERO!

If there is any rebuke needed, let us stand like Paul in his letter to Titus… and rebuke OUR (parents who make choices religion can’t comprehend) opponents the Cretans.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 , "And a servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome, but he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and forbearing. He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to his will.…"

 

 

 

[1] “Obsessions & Special Interests. “Ambitious About Autism, June 26, 2015, https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/understanding-autism/behaviour/obsessions-and-special-interests

Comments   

#1 Lashanda Holts 2017-09-20 12:54
This is a very good and thought provoking article. Every year I've struggled with the idea of painting faces and doing special effects make up on Halloween because of upbringing in religious systems. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes we don't know how many layers of bondage and strongholds are being stripped until we begin to feel lighter and free through biblical sound teaching.
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