An autistic person’s guide to the fruit of the Spirit
Part 3: Peace
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Biblical idea of peace is not just about the absence of conflict we can think of it as being not just peace also harmony. It is not an exclusive idea to Judeo/Christianity, the Millennium Declaration which the UN General Assembly adopted on 8 September 2000:
Dialogue without addressing issues of social justice is artificial and ultimately meaningless.
Dialogue without a commitment to peace is a contradiction in itself. In particular, civilizations cannot be allied if the exponents of one civilization wage war against exponents of another civilization. Furthermore, in the twenty-first century, there must be no wars with civilizational undertones. Such conflicts poison the intercultural climate not only globally but at the regional and domestic levels as well, thereby eroding the very foundations of multicultural societies and threatening the long-term stability of states.
One cannot preach cultural dialogue internationally and reject the very notion of multiculturalism domestically. Consistency in the implementation of a policy of dialogue is absolutely essential for the integrative approach.
Peace is not just about a peaceful internal feeling, it is about relationships. It is about being one with God and one with other people. But this does not mean that we abandon our individuality. Unity is different from uniformity. Uniformity demand that everybody be the same, uniformity is authoritarian, Uniformity leads to dissent, not peace. Unity is about acceptance of one another not despite but because of our differences.
Unity is something that we can strive for in a human way. But peace, as gifted by the Holy Spirit, is different form this. It is God’s peace, a peace that transcends understanding. (Philippians 4:7). Unlike the peace of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, it does not need to wait until conflicts have stopped before it can exist. The peace of God lives in our hearts even through troubles.
The world cannot understand the peace of God. One example is the prediction that the Church of England is about to fall apart. It happens every time there is a General Synod, different factions are seen to be disagreeing because the things they disagree about are put at the top of the agenda and then discussed in public. The world, which would like to put up a united front by sweeping disagreements under the table, cannot understand putting disagreements centre stage, because they do not understand that because they are one in Christ they have peace. Peace exists in the conflict.
There is a quote whose source is unknown to me, “We are like the single notes on a musical scale and, when we are played together in Christ, we form a musical chord.”
But this is an autistic person’s guide. How does this affect an autistic person like me? I get anxious very easily. Going into a new situation always leaves me anxious. I am not at peace with myself. Even worse is the anxiety I feel when going back into a place where I have had a meltdown, people do not generally understand that autistic meltdown is not about anger but about mental overstimulation. The maxim if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck does not apply here; I look and sound angry but I am not angry. There is anxiety though, because of the tiredness that a meltdown brings and also that a result of a meltdown people can be hurt. My brain is overwhelmed and I have no idea what I am saying.
The opposite of peace is anxiety and depression. But God can be found in our dark places if we let him in. That does not mean that we will no longer be anxious and depressed but that God will be with us through our anxiety and depression, even through an autistic meltdown or shutdown.