I have known over the years any number of guys whose first name is Michael (usually they go by "Mike"), but at this point in our lives, we are most familiar with three Mike's. There is our family friend (who shares our same last name, but no close genealogical connections that we have been able to ascertain) who is married to Kari, an outstanding blogger. There is Mike, the film guy from Los Angeles, that we have been getting to know over the past couple of months. He is at work on a documentary about FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) and became aware of us as a result of a google search "FASD skateboard," which brought him either to Claudia's or my blogsite (I can't remember which, although I think it was Claudia's). And there is our son Mike, who is concurrently a very challenging and very charming young man of eighteen years old.
In the past few weeks all the Mike's and we have had opportunities to get together (it was quite comical the night we all had dinner at our house trying to distinguish between the three Mike's in conversation). Each of these Mike's is a great person in his own right, and as I was thinking about the unusual way that we all have come to know one another (drawn together by an interest, whether by choice or otherwise, of a shared diagnostic condition), I began to wonder about the name meaning of "Mike," which I quickly discovered means "who is like God."
It would not be appropriate for me to psychoanalyze the ways in which two of the Mike's I know are or are not like God, but I have thought a bit about my son Mike, and the ways in which he is like God. (It is, perhaps, ironic that our Mike has as part of his portfolio of diagnoses the DSMIV designation "Narcissistic Personality Disorder," but you'll have to decide for yourself whether I am reaching too far into sarcasm). On second thought I need to remind myself that the name meaning is "who is like God," not "who thinks he is God." There is more than a subtle distinction in that.
In any case, I wanted to take a moment to blog about the ways my son Michael teaches me about God. It seems only fair to blog some positives in view of all the realities (often construed as negatives) I have blogged about his life recently.
Our son Mike is a very gifted young man. He is kinesthetically talented, as this video from our friend Mike the film guy evidences. This video doesn't show Mike at his skateboarding best (he's been out of practice for some time now), but it does give you a glimpse into his ability. Were it winter you might see him snowboarding and understand what I am talking about. Mike's gifts, often clouded by his diagnosis, remind me that God gives each of us a purpose in life, a way to bless all of creation.
Our Mike is also gifted artistically. While I am not a supporter of this particular form of artistic expression, Mike has self-tattooed himself over the years rather extensively on his left arm (he is right handed), and while I hate tattoos, I have to admit that he is gifted. He has always had real ability for drawing, understanding spatial connections and creating things. His hands have always been busy ones.
Our Mike lives for the moment, so he doesn't have much time to contemplate the past or the future. While this is no benefit when it comes to antisocial behaviors (cause and effect relationshipos are pretty important in helping all of us to make appropriate decisions in that realm), what it means is that Mike doesn't experience a lot of worry or anxiety. At times that has frustrated me, because I've thought that a little anxiety on his part might help curb his impulsivity, but I have yet to find any connection between the two in his life.
Our Mike is relentless. I must confess I have not always seen this as a positive. To be continually or repeatedly badgered or lambasted is not pleasant, but as you can see in his skateboard video, he is not averse to trying again and again a maneuver he wants to perfect, even when it results in personal pain. If we could just find a way to incent Mike to be as relentless when it comes to abiding by the law or choosing appropriate friends we would be doing well.
One of my foundational life premises is that all humans are created in the image of God. There are typical ways I identify that in many of the people I come in contact with, whether it is the ability to reason, or the drive for excellence, or a compassionate spirit, or a passion for social justice. It is not always so easy to see God's image in the life of one who has a disability that detracts from his ability to make socially appropriate decisions, but when I take the time I can see something of God in my son Mike. That helps me to remember that he, like all of us, are unfinished "products" in the continuing process of life, and it is then that hope in its nefarious, surreptitious ways once again ekes into my tired heart.