Saturday, 12 September 2015

Worth more than gold

It's a difficult one, worth, isn't it.
What's someone worth?
What's someone like me worth?
Autism has its wonderful naivety.   If someone asked me what someone like you was worth, I'd say, "More than all the gold in all the world".
But if someone in some faith groups is asked what I'm worth, the answer often comes in at, "Well, not as much as £6"  "£4 is too much, obviously"  "Really she should be free, or be paying us for the inconvenience of enduring her and her disability needs".
As if we are just lumps of meat with no feelings.  As if being given this message day after day would have no impact. Over a lifetime. 
It's a difficult thing, standing up in front of a group of people as the real live example of 'not worth anything'.  The days to prepare ourselves, and the time afterwards to recover.  Explaining to people that I cannot even see who they are.  Narrating the difficulties I have with everyday life.  Talking about the way we are targeted through that naivety. Taking all the highly personal questions about my private life.  Somewhere deep inside, we end up feeling dirty, and used, and worthless during the process of being the 'live exhibit'.  As trainers, we fall out of training classes for some groups both delighted to have had the chance to change society....and exhausted and demoralised beyond measure.   Because there are so few support mechanisms in place, we try to 'prop one another up'.  Not many have the strength to keep getting up and doing the job.

But there's so often someone who pops up, brightly, to say how grateful I should be to have been allowed to even apply to do their work for less than my costs.    I should say thank you nicely, they prompt.  Where are my manners, eh.

There isn't anger behind my response.  There is just a numb despair, and tears.
We do it because we don't want a world of pain for our youngsters any more.  I also do it because I believe God loves people like me, and values us.  And this is the only way to get the starting point.  The only way to get people to move past the 'they are not worth our cash' thinking.  No-one autistic gets rich from doing autism training.  Many of us give our time for only enough to feed ourselves the basics from one day to the next, if it makes a difference. Quite often, even that is 'too much', it seems.   What are we worth?

You are worth more than all the gold in all the world.  Yes, you.  

And so, my question to you, is....what am I worth to you?    And to God?  

One big question to pray on, deeply, over time.