Monday, April 2, 2018

How Tyler Contributes

Some time ago I explored Tyler's relationship with the church, and with religion in general.  I theorized that Tyler benefits from going to church by feeling the fellowship and acceptance of the others in the congregation.  Just having God's love surrounding him is something he may experience in ways we do not know about.  Its obvious that he enjoys his time there and seeing his friends and family.  He enjoys the music.  And he enjoys a feeling of participation.  If I knew nothing else about how he felt on the subject, this would be enough.

The sad truth is, however, that many churches would not welcome Tyler with open arms.  Even fewer would go out of their way to accommodate and invite more special needs people to attend.  Fewer still would make Tyler a member and baptize him.

This discussion is very much at the heart of why I had left organized religion for so long.  I believe (and I represent only myself in these words) that many churches and congregation members have the absolutely wrong idea about what a congregation should look like, or act like, or aspire to.  Church is not a fashion show.  Its not a place to gossip, or to judge other people.  Its not about gourmet coffee and assigned seats.  

Instead, we should ask ourselves "how much do we reach out to invite the poor, the addicted, and the disabled?"  These are the people that we are called to serve, and these are the people that we should embrace having around us to hear the word.

Back to Tyler.  While I had addressed the points of how church has impacted Tyler's life, I hadn't given enough thought to how he impacts the church.  How does Tyler contribute to his congregation?

The entire family tries to contribute in different ways.  Samantha helps with communion at times, and participates in the youth choir.  My wife helps make food for events.  My wife's parents make food and attend various groups.  I collect canned goods, host the spring yard sale, and assist with security.  I don't cook because we want to encourage people to come, not scare them away.  These are all just small ways we try to give back.

What about Tyler?  How could a young man who is non-verbal and severely disabled give back to others?  

He is going to give them Bibles.  You see, Tyler has a monthly amount that he gets to cover his rent and other expenses.  What remains is for us as his guardians to decide how to spend it on him.  It will often go for clothes, special foods, etc.  Or he shops for x-mas gifts for the family.  Its a challenge at times to think "what would Tyler want?" when he really has very little regard for material items.  One thing I do know about Tyler is that he would want to enrich the lives of those who share their time with him.  He loves to make people smile and to be happy with them.  So, on his behalf, we will be donating some Bibles to the church for those who need a new one or can't afford one.  It will be stamped on the inside cover that it has been donating with love by Tyler.  

Tyler is going to place a beautiful gift in the hands of those who need it.  That gift may help another person open their hearts and change the course of their spiritual journey.  

We are so proud that he uses his very attitude, presence, and perseverance to inspire those around him to continue to progress in their faith and their lives.  We are proud that he inspires me to write and spread his story of love as far as the internet will reach.  And we are proud that he can give such a wonderful gift to those who are looking for the word.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

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