Right now, I’m reading a book about the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who was Britain’s conservative Prime Minister throughout the 1980’s. Its author is Nicholas Wapshott, and its title is Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage.
In addition to describing their relationship, the book contains biographical details about Reagan and Thatcher before they actually met. I was already familiar with much of the Reagan material, since I’ve seen many documentaries and read a number of books. But I really didn’t know much about Thatcher.
This is not a book review because I’ve not finished the book. In fact, I still have a long way to go. But, fortunately, I’m starting to get into it. My focus today is on a detail about Thatcher that caused me to think about my own life.
When Thatcher was in her early adulthood, she had a hard time fitting in and acquiring an office. She came from a middle class family, so she had difficulty gaining acceptance from the British upper class. Since she was a woman, British politicians didn’t exactly view her as a person with leadership potential. And she tended to turn people off with her tough personality. She struck them as overly assertive, if not aggressive. She once dated a pig farmer, who dumped her and married her sister.
But what she may have considered her liabilities became her assets. Her assertiveness brought change to England and the rest of the world (for she helped end the Cold War). Her toughness made her an effective leader. I like the story of how she slammed a book by Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek onto a table and said to her party leadership, “This is what we believe in!” What once turned people off became her greatest strength. And, although she struggled to gain acceptance for many years, she made a difference in the world.
Her experience reminds me of a story I once read about a missionary to India, Amy Carmichael. When she was a little girl, she grew up in Ireland, and all the girls around her had blond hair and blue eyes. She, however, had brown hair and brown eyes. Every night, she earnestly asked God to make her like her peers. But, when she got up the next morning and looked in the mirror, she saw the same little girl with the brown hair and brown eyes.
Eventually, she became a missionary to India. When she moved there, she noticed that everyone around her looked just like her: all of the people had dark hair and brown eyes. She had finally found a place where she fit in. And the Indians trusted her because she looked like them, so she ended up making a significant difference in that country.
I wonder if the things that I hate about myself right now will actually turn out to be my greatest assets years down the road. I really hate the fact that I have Asperger’s. I wish I could be more of a social butterfly, who interacts with people more easily. And, while I enjoy my time alone, my experiences of rejection can take a toll.
But I have this syndrome for a reason, and maybe God can use it to help others and bring glory to himself. I’ve never viewed myself as an advocate for people with Asperger’s, since, to be honest, a lot of them get on my nerves. (And I’m not alone in this, for that’s something that many people with Asperger’s say about others with the syndrome.) But God may use me to help people on the autism spectrum. I really don’t know. As more and more people are diagnosed with autism, such a task will becoming increasingly important.
That is not to say that I shouldn’t work on certain things, such as my social skills. I’m just saying that I don’t have to see myself as a mistake. And God may take all of my bad experiences and personal deficiencies and make something good out of them. God doesn’t make mistakes. I’m not a mistake, and neither is anyone else.