I identified with a man I’d met at Joni & Friend’s Camp when I read his post about his little girl with cerebral palsy. He explained that when he took his daughter to the park, there was a park ranger doing a demonstration for the children, and she walked right by his daughter in a wheelchair and addressed all of the other children instead. A few days later, he wrote about another situation that occurred at his church’s Vacation Bible School. Those in charge of the closing celebration did not make accommodations for his daughter to join her friends on stage, so she was again excluded from the fun.
It is easy for me to get on my high horse after reading about those situations and think, ‘Oh, that is totally wrong!” Then I remember how I react to seeing a homeless person on the street; I struggle to look the person in the eye. There is a woman over at the Starbucks near my house, and she wears bright clothes and looks really bizzare. People cross her path all of the time, and yet when I think about it, I’ve only had one or two conversations with her myself. What makes us do that? If I truly believe that everyone is valuable, then that changes everything and everyone. If it is fear that stops me from looking a homeless person in the eye, or talking with the woman outside of Starbucks, then I’d better remember that each of us has been created in the image of God.
As a woman with cerebral palsy, I could have led a much different life if I would have believed that life was too hard and chosen to see it that way. It would have been easy for me to go along with what people thought about me. Instead, I discovered that God had a much different purpose for my life. If I believe what people assume about me, then I am going to limit myself and go around with a chip on my shoulder.
The other day, my friend and I went into a re-sale shop and we had an incredible conversation with the owner who really saw the treasure in me. Rather than assuming what many people think when they see a handicapped person, this guy saw me through the eyes of Christ. He said to me, “There is not an ounce of self-pity or sorrow in you, is there?” No matter what people think, it is important to hold onto the truth found in 2 Corinthians 4:7; “…We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.”
Whenever I start to dwell on how people treated me, or when I marginalize anyone, I have to stop and remember that each of us are valuable treasures in these earthen vessels.