Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Too Much Information

One of the things I've discovered since my Aspergers diagnosis a few years ago is that I have sensory overload.  I know that shouldn't be a shock to anyone that has an autistic disorder  or for someone who knows someone on the spectrum, but there it is.  I see it most often on Sundays after church, but it makes itself known at other times as well.

On Sundays, I will come home and have to take a nap, even on Sundays when I don't preach, which is most Sundays since the Senior Pastor does most of the preaching.  I know other pastors that will chime in and say "me too!" when it comes to preaching.  But while it might be the same, it's a bit different for me. Maybe the best way to describe this is that I feel at times like a laptop that runs on it battery far too long.  After a while, the battery starts to cause the laptop to get hot and soon thereafter, the battery is out of juice.  My brain is sorta like that.  I run low and I need to "plug-in" after worship.

Being pastor, even part-time is a very people-intensive job.  You are constantly dealing with people who want to talk to you about anything and everything.  Then there is the constant worrying that you'll say the right thing during worship or properly greet someone after worship.  Pastors also have to engage in a bit of small talk with their flock and always greet the new folks.

This is draining for neurotypical folks, but it is just deadly for those of us with Aspergers.  The battery is run down to nothing. I come home on Sunday afternoon not as much needing a nap, as needing time with no people to interact with- at least for an hour or so.

Seeing all of this might make one wonder why I'm even a pastor.  I've wondered that myself at times.  But I think that as much as this position can tax my senses, I've learned better people skills and at the very lear, I've learned how to "act human."  Plus, I've learned so much about the people I worship with that it can make some of this all worthwhile.

But this all means that I have to learn my limits.  I have to learn to get away when my brain gets overloaded (or overheated, if I use the laptop analogy).  It means, I can't always give 100 percent when it comes to something people-intensive, but I try to give at least 90 percent. 

Life is a balance: learning to appreciate you limitations and allowing yourself to be stretched as well.  This all reminds me just how complex my life truly is.

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