There are those among my family and friends who have declared for decades now that I consistently sacrifice far too much. They say that this is unhealthy, and that I ought to do more for myself, that I should take time to discover what truly makes me happy — that I really need to get a life.
For many, many years I have actually carried around a small measure of guilt over this. After all, they speak as though they truly understand this simple fact-of-life which my autistic mind is somehow just not getting. I suppose from their perspective my life must seem pathetic.
It’s not as though I’m deliberately trying to live an imbalanced life. Yet even so, as odd as I may seem, I must acknowledge that I am the way that I am. And the truth of it, which they just don’t get, is that I find no joy at all in doing for myself. Any seemingly pleasurable distraction in which I might engage, ultimately makes not the slightest dent in that empty hollow of my heart.
It seems the only thing in my power which can kindle any embers of joy for me is to bring joy and relief to others by simply loving them the best way that I know how — through the constancy and quality of my service. In my heart, this is what I’ve found has value. Once you’ve asked this autistic guy to do something for you, you can then count on him to give you his best, to represent you well and to look out for you and your interests, no matter who you are. I’ve noticed that people are often surprised by the lengths to which I will go for them.
So, tell me Doctor. What exactly is wrong with me? Am I diseased or just from another planet? Why does my love language seem so different? Why does it make some people uncomfortable such that they would want to push it away?
From my deep and secret places, wherein I search for serious truth, I have asked myself “where else can I seek to find the joy and happiness that I sorely lack?” And as I listened hard for the answer, from out of that empty hollow in my heart came a tiny whisper carried on a cold and lonely wind which said — “What you need is what you give.” …What?
Upon deeper reflection, I was eventually shown the meaning of this truth. It’s the Golden Rule in reverse.
The Golden Rule was given to us by Jesus who said “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) This is very similar to what Jesus refers to as the second greatest commandment, which is simply to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
So the reverse of this Golden Rule would be, “In the same way that you love others, you then need to be loved in return.” Or in other words, if you are truly keeping the Golden Rule, then “What you give will be what you need.” But sadly, I’ve discovered that the kind of love which I give and need is seldom found these days, at least along the paths upon which I tread.
If Jesus, who so dearly loves us, is meant to serve as our example of the Golden Rule in action, then, having considered what He endured to save us, and having seen just the tiniest gimps of the lengths to which He goes for us both in heaven and on earth, I now believe that there is no such thing as sacrificing too much for the sake of love. I believe this even though I’ve yet to soar upon that uplifting joy of consistently being loved this way in return — I say this even though it could mean that I may never “get a life.”