Going The Extra Mile

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
29 June 10

Going The Extra Mile

It would seem some people have more obstacles than others. Some will go over, around or through their obstacles, some will stop at their obstacles.

A man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the unsuspecting mouse into the snake’s cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. The tiny mouse had a serious problem on his hands. At any moment he could be swallowed alive. Obviously, the mouse needed to come up with a brilliant plan. What did the terrified creature do? He quickly set to work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. The solution, however, came from outside. The man took pity on the silly little mouse and removed him from the cage.

No matter how hard we try to cover or deny our problems, its fool’s work. Our problem will eventually awake from sleep and shake off its cover. You can’t hide your head in the sand, especially if you are on the Gulf Coast right now, as you might get covered with oil.

The answers to your problems are often found by thinking outside the box. You must however start by honestly identifying and addressing your problems. A recent Wall Street Journal article addressed the feeling of many people in their hopelessness with respect our nation’s inability to resolve many of our nation’s problems as “Wrong track distress.”

Some will go so far as to re-write history so as to justify their present or their goals. I will give you two examples.

The first example is: Our Country’s history is very important in that we need to know our real foundation. There are those who would like to re-write the history books to take God out and support an anti-Christian message. You may review http://www.wallbuiders.com to see what our Founding Fathers wrote and see their reliance upon God. http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=8755

If your foundation is faulty your house will crumble from shear weight, wind, rain or snow.

The second example is of a boy named Eric who just graduated from Smithfield High School in Rhode Island. Doctors gave Judith and Dennis a diagnosis for their son, Eric, but they didn’t offer hope. He was autistic, they explained, and likely would end up in an institution. Good call, the 18-year-old salutatorian joked at his graduation this year. “Today I stand before you accepted into every institution of higher learning that I applied to, so I guess, in a way, the experts were right about the institution thing.” He has been accepted to Bryant University, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, where he will matriculate this fall to study biology.

Eric, whose challenging senior-year course load included calculus and honors physics, academically bested all but one of his 199 classmates at Smithfield High School in Rhode Island. The salutatorian honor came with a requirement: a speech.

“It felt pretty good,” Eric said. “I was pretty confident in what I was saying and how I delivered “, this from a boy who, at 5, had yet to utter a word. When doctors diagnosed Eric with autism, he was nearly 4. He wasn’t speaking, he wasn’t making eye contact, and he was still wearing diapers.

The diagnosis devastated Judith and Dennis. Devastation gave way to acceptance, followed by action. Judith and Dennis refused to accept their son’s poor prognosis. At the time, interventions that are now standard for children with autism were not offered, so Judith researched treatment options, found toddler programs for Eric and spent a lot of time in the bathroom.

Judith taught Eric to speak using symbols, holding up a card when he was hungry or wanted to go outside. This linguistic stepping stone led to sign language and, as his graduation speech attests, a beautiful command of the spoken language.

Academic fluency came easier to Eric than the social half of the high school equation. People with autism have impaired ability to communicate and read social cues. Eric suffered a lot of anxiety, worrying that he would do or say something to offend someone. With help from family and friends, especially from one of the most popular boys at school, Eric overcame all the naysayers. Needless to say Eric had more problems to overcome than most high school boys.

Many people with a medical condition of a mental illness or a physical disability suffer from anxiety in social situations. One concern of theirs is that people will focus on the condition or disability rather than on the person.

Eric hopes to become a pharmacist so he can combine his loves of math and science, and use medicine to help people like it did his grandfather, who passed away from cancer.

We should be more like devastated Judith and Dennis. Devastation gave way to acceptance, followed by action to achieve more good results like Eric. Eric proved that no matter what the challenge you can succeed. A famous person once said where there is a will there is a way.

Rev. Paul N. Papas II, is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries, (MA and AZ) and founder of the Family Renewal Center. http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org

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